AES Marine informs safety, health and environmental professionals in the production, manufacturing, construction and service sectors about trends, management strategies, loss prevention, regulatory news and new products that help them provide a safe and healthy workplace.



Are You Prepared, Will You Take It Seriously?
January 15, 2018

An Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is a written document required by particular OSHA standards [29 CFT 1910.38(a)]. The purpose of an EAP is to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. This is the character statement provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration when it comes to standards and requirements established for organization managing emergency response. However, this past weekend, the EAP, more importantly the early warning notification system established by the state of Hawaii during it's emergency drill did not work as planned. 


A push alert-text message, that warned of a ballistic missile heading straight for Hawaii was sent to more than 1.6 million residents who were sent into full-blown panic mode. State emergency officials stated that this was a "mistake" and the text message, "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.", was a false alarm and the agency is trying to determine what happened. Another text was distributed more than 35 minutes later, informing the residents of the false alarm, with further information to follow. 


This false alarm has come under significant criticism from community leaders, government officials, the FCC, and many others in Hawaii. Governor David Ige apologized for the error, which was blamed on an emergency worker hitting the wrong template during a routine drill. The mistake, along with the identification of many alert sirens flailing, have raised questions as to whether the preparations are having unintended effects. A huge concern after the false alarm is how people would react to the next emergency alert. As one Senator asks, "How seriously are people going to take this or any emergency alert system?" 



Reshaping The Nation's Approach To Workplace Safety
January 4, 2018
Scrapping the Obama-era protections and tools, the Trump Administration is changing the nation's approach to workplace safety when it comes to holding dangerous companies accountable. One of the most significant examples is finding out about worker injuries and deaths. In March, President Trump signed a resolution that was passed by Congress, for companies bidding for large federal contractors, no longer requiring them to disclose labor violations, including workplace safety penalties. 

During his first week in office, President Trump invited manufacturer companies to propose ways to cut "regulatory burdens", and the companies responded. Last year, on March 31, the companies met with Trump at the White House and delivered their forty two (42) page wish list. This list included some regulatory changes, such as:

-Streamlining the permitting process
-Streamlining regulations through sunsets and retrospective review
-Increasing sensitivity to smaller businesses
-Support centralized review of agencies' regulatory activities
-Strengthen and codify regulatory analysis
-Hold independent regulatory agencies accountable
-Improve regulatory cooperation and reduce burdens imposed by conflicting international standards
-Enhance the abilities of institutions to improve the quality of regulations
-And much, much more...

In late August, these companies caught a break when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), was required to remove specific information about work-related fatalities from its homepage. The list included the names and circumstances of each person's death. This was what referred to as "public shaming employers". David Michaels, former 2014 OSHA administrator, claimed that prodding employers into providing safe workplaces by disclosing their injury data, fits squarely in the agency's previous enforcement theory of "Regulation of Shaming".

At a meeting of the National Association of Manufacturer's in September, Trump reinforced the removal of the OSHA practice with a point he made previously, "My administration is working every day to lift the burdens on our companies and on our workers so that you can thrive, compete, and grow."

However, posting information about fatalities and injuries encourages companies to protect their workers making them more productive and profitable, said Michaels, who is now a Professor at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. "There is no evidence that putting information up is bad for a company", Michaels said. "Fatalities and serious injuries are a sign of management failure. Poorly managed companies are not as profitable as well-managed companies."




Rigging Gear Registry Program
December 19, 2017
AES Provides a unique service, a "Rigging Gear Registry" program, which includes inspection and testing of lifting equipment in accordance with current industry standards and manufacturer's recommendations. Normally, visual inspections shall always precede any maintenance, repair, testing, or any new device being put into service. Currently, we have staff trained and experienced. Our inspectors are capable of providing a complete bi-annual inspection of Lifting and Rigging Gear, as well as updating organizations' Rigging Registry for various equipment, including but not limited to: slings (steel, rope, or flat web), chains, nets (steel or rope), shackles, hooks, drum hooks, lifting beams, and spreader bars.

Our inspector also ensures container and anchor lifting effectiveness, via Non-Destructive Testing (NDT), to identify potential surface or subsurface degradation of anchor points. Utilizing Magnetic Particle Inspection (MPI) testing, our inspector  will determine the suitability of your equipment, and segregate unsafe/unreliable equipment.

The "Rigging Registry Program" organizes your lifting assets by location, description, serial number, condition, and produces an inspection report on paper and in electronic format for your record keeping. The inspection report also notes the standard on which each piece is inspected in the event the inspector's findings recommend disposal and/or destruction. The inspector will update the company's Rigging Registry, certifying equipment for continual use, or identify equipment to be removed from the registry. Finally, the inspector will also provide consultation and/or advice for recommended preventative maintenance, handling and storage of the equipment.  



Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
December 12, 2017
With all of the sexual assault accusations that have recently made headlines, it is important to know how to handle the situation, if it were to ever arise. Sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination that violates Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964. This applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission looks at the whole record during an investigation. They take into account the circumstances, as well as the context in which the alleged incidents occurred.

Sexual harassment can occur in a variation of circumstances, they include the following, but are not limited to:

·   The victim does not have to be the one being harassed, but can be anyone offended by the offensive actions.

·   The victim & harasser can be either male, or female, and does not have to be of the opposite sex.

·   The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcomed

It is helpful for the victim to directly inform the harasser that their conduct is not welcomed and needs to stop. Employers should have a grievance or complaint system in place, and the victim should utilize any, and all resources that are available.

It is imperative that employers stress the importance of sexual harassment prevention to all staff and employees. They are encouraged to take action immediately, as soon as an accusation is made. Though the law doesn't prohibit simple teasing or tasteless jokes, any comments or behavior that causes hostility or anyone to be uncomfortable in their workplace, should be acknowledged by management. Whenever an accusation is made, it is important for management to make employees aware of the company's current policies and practices. Companies like AES Marine Consultants have created trainings on sexual harassment in order to teach employers and employees what is expected and allowed in the workplace. They are able to give you a better understanding of what is considered sexual harassment, the steps that can be taken to try and prevent it, and also what to do in case you ever need to report it.  




Lack of Maintenance, Procedures, and Training Led to Fire and Injuries
December 5, 2017
The United States Chemical Safety Board (CSB), says a culture that allowed maintenance to be done without proper instructions or training, contributed to a fire that seriously injured four (4) workers at ExxonMobil's Baton Rouge, LA refinery on November 22, 2016. An isobutane release and fire seriously injured the workers in the sulfuric acid alkylation unit at the refinery.

While performing the removal of an inoperable gearbox on a plug valve, an employee removed critical bolts securing a pressure-retaining component of the valve which came apart and released isobutane, which then formed a vapor cloud. The isobutane ignited within thirty seconds. This caused the fire, and burned the workers who were unable to exit the vapor cloud in time.

The CSB's final report stated that the work was done without an appropriate safety hazard analysis. Also, the CSB reported changing the older valve to one with a safer design, which had been done with 97% of the valves in the unit, could have prevented the fire. Finally, a culture at the refinery made it acceptable for workers performing maintenance to do so without written procedures or adequate training. The CSB issued three (3) key recommendations to address the problems it found during its investigations:

- Establish detailed procedures for workers performing potentially hazardous work, including tasks such as removing an inoperable gearbox,
- Provide training that focused on improving worker hazard awareness to ensure workers can perform all anticipated tasks safely, and
- Apply the hierarchy of controls which encourages engineering controls, such as improved valve design, over lower level administrative controls, such as warning signs for workers.




Overexertion in The Workplace
November 28, 2017
Overexertion along with falls, account for billions of dollars in worker's compensation costs in the United States. According to OSHA, worker deaths in the United States are down. The safety organization reports that workplace fatalities have gone down by at least 65% and occupational injuries and illnesses have declined by at least 67%, while employment in the Unites States has almost doubled.

Injuries related to lifting, pulling, holding, carrying, or throwing fell under the category of overexertion. The report is based on information from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Researchers have determined that workers miss an average of at least six or more days of work due to on-the-job accidents.

Today, thanks to modern sciences and technology, there are ergonomic assessment tools that are able to help employers in the construction, manufacturing, health care, and hospitality industries. These ergonomic assessment tools help employers to understand and evaluate what risks their employers may face. The direct costs of workplace accidents can be greatly reduced if more companies put more emphasis on the proper training for their employees. With more safety awareness in the workplace, the number of accidents would almost certainly decline. Companies like AES Marine Consultants can help with this issue. They provide safety training for different types of employment, and can design an industry-specific module. If you are interested in learning more, click on our "Training Services" tab at the top of the page.




Are Workplace Fatalities Actually Decreasing?
November 20, 2017
Have job sites become safer, or are employers reporting less? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been publishing a lot less news about workplace deaths and injuries since President Donald Trump took office. Recent changes and requirements imposed by the Trump Administration, has required the federal agency to discontinue disclosing names of workers and the circumstances of their deaths. This was an established requirement of the Obama Administration, and this change has resulted in the removal of the scrolling list of names of workplace accident victims from the OSHA website last week.

While many workplace safety advocates saw the visibility of incident data as an important reminder and useful way to keep companies accountable to workers, the United States Chamber of Commerce disagreed with the practice. They claimed it unfairly smeared employers. Marc Freedman, Executive Director of Labor Law Policies for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the Obama Administration saw the increased transparency, "as a way to scare employers straight". This rollback takes place the same time the rate of deaths per 100,000 workers has been slowly increasing, especially among self-employed and contract workers, according to data from the U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

Now, rather than publishing the information from each incident, OSHA only releases fatalities that result in a citation in the states and territories it regulates directly. This means there are many deaths that don't make their way into the federal public record, since 26 states have their own regulators, and those that do see reports, have up to six month lag on their release.  

The repercussions for employers putting workers in harm's way remain very small under the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act. The average federal fine in 2016 for a serious workplace safety violation was $2,402, and the median fine for a worker fatality was $6,500. OSHA has also reversed a regulation that went into effect the first of this year. It required employers to share electronic copies of injury logs they keep onsite. With the reporting guideline changes, what will these number look like a year from now?



Worker's Comp Doesn't Cover Employee's Workplace Injury
November 13, 2017
A utility supervisor, Woodrow Nelson, for the Town of Christianburg, VA received disturbing news when a court found pronounced that his back injury didn't arise from an actual risk of employment. Nelson has been seeking worker's compensation benefits for medical and total disability compensation. A deputy commissioner said Nelson has not proven that his injury arose from an actual risk of his employment and his request was denied.

Nelson's duties included marking the location of utility lines, requiring him to reach into below-ground meters and clip transmitters onto them. Afterwards, he would walk and mark the utility lines with paint utilizing an above ground receiver. After marking the lines, he would reach back into the meters and unclip the transmitters.

One morning, Nelson was kneeling on the ground with the rear of his body resting on his heels, and remained in that position for several minutes. While carrying several tools (a transmitter, a receiver, a meter box puller, and a ground rod), he turned and twisted to his right going towards his truck. He heard, "something pop" in his back and fell to the ground in pain.

The Virginia Worker's Compensation Commission affirmed the decision, stating that the evidence failed to establish any work-related risk or hazard resulted in injury. The Commission further stated, "Nelson merely rose performing a normal work-related talk while in squatting position.". The Commission's decision has disapproved Nelson's request for workers' compensation medical or wage-replacement benefits.




Employer and Federal Government Investigating Mill Fire
November 6, 2017
The United States Department of Justice's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has initiated an investigation of a fire that raged for several hours at an abandoned plywood mill in south Arkansas. Debris from the fire, which included insulation from the mill's roof had spread for several days after the blaze. The fire which started about 9:30 AM on the 28th of October, prompted a response from numerous departments, the closure of U.S. Highway 82 and the evacuation of nearby businesses.

The investigation was initiated following concerns of toxic exposure as well as to identify if demolition workers, without proper fire-safety training or equipment, may have started and accidentally spread the fire. Last week, officials initiated their investigation of the fire at the mill, which had not been in operation since 2011 and was being torn down.

·    The start of the fire was accidental, it occurred when demolition workers were using cutting torches and ignited a pile of wood debris.

·    Workers took a 500-gallon water tank that was on site and sprayed directly at the fire.

·    Many of the flames directly hit by the water were extinguished, however many of the flames were also pushed away, allowing the fire to spread.

·     The workers were untrained in fire safety, and they did not know they should not spray water directly on a fire.

·    Onsite Management/Supervisors failed to recognize the hazards of using torches and grinders, which sparked the wood-framed structure.

 The fire department warned local residents that the fire was toxic, which later was identified as a reference to the general toxicity of all fires. OSHA is looking for anything that might have contaminated workers. The company is conducting an internal investigation to identify what procedures were and weren't followed, and why. OSHA initiated its investigation based on a non-formal complaint after seeing the report of the fire in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Internal investigations enable employers and workers to identify and implement the corrective actions necessary to prevent future incidents.




Workplace Tobacco-Control Interventions
In a recent study, the CDC has reported that close to 33 million working adults in the United States, or roughly 20%, regularly smoke cigarettes, vape, or use some other tobacco product. Just over 15.4% of working adults reported smoking cigarettes, while 5.8% used another combustible tobacco product, 3% used a smokeless tobacco product, and 3.6% used e-cigarettes, according to the analysis of data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

Cigarette smoking has declined to record low levels among adults in recent years, but the report made it clear that rates vary substantially among occupations. Even in the occupations with the highest smoking rates since the CDC last reported, rates among working adults rates have declined.

Construction workers and repair/installation/maintenance workers had the highest overall tobacco use by occupation (34.3% and 37.2%, respectively). For cigarette smoking in particular, the highest rates were among construction workers and food/accommodation industry workers (24% and 25.8%, respectively). Physical and social science workers had the lowest tobacco use by occupation (9.3%), followed by educators/librarians (9.5%), and healthcare workers (11.7%).

According to the NHIS, among the main findings from the survey include:

·         22.1% of employed adult survey respondents reported current use of tobacco products.

·         4.6% of tobacco users reported use of two or more tobacco products.

·         Current tobacco use was the highest among men (27.4%), non-Hispanic whites (24.8%), young adults (24.9%), those with a high school education or less (30.1%), those with no health insurance (33.9%), and people living below the federal poverty line (28.5%).

·         By occupation, e-cigarette use was highest among food service/accommodation industry workers (5.8%) and repair/installation/maintenance workers (7.9%).                 

Workplace tobacco-control interventions have been especially effective in reducing cigarette smoking prevalence. Previous research has indicated that workers at worksites that had adopted or maintained smoke-free policies were twice as likely to quit smoking, than those whose worksites did not implement such policies. They concluded that employers should consider including comprehensive tobacco cessation programs as part of their workplace health promotion efforts.
















 



Contact Us

AES Marine Consultants, LLC
PO Box 23331
San Antonio, Texas  78223
United States
Office:  (210) 430-3469
Fax:  (210) 568-6145
www.aesmarine.com                            

Operations Management
Tony Rosales
trosales@aesmarine.com
Skype:  Tony.RosalesAES

Product Services & Business Administration
Khandra Faulkner-Urena
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Skype:  Khandra.UrenaAES                       

Dominique Ramirez
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Accounting
Barbara Leigh
accounts@aesmarine.com

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