Types of Workforce Accidents

hungup

A number of transportation companies in the past few years in the Midwest have seen explosive growth. One consequence of bringing new people on-board is an increase in the number of incidents and accidents.

Some say there is no such thing as an “accident.” Things don’t just happen on their own. Many times there are indicators leading up to the actual event, a series of close-calls and near-misses. The warning signs are ignored.

Then something happens. Really quick.

One defintion of an accident is an unplanned event resulting in injury or illness, or damage to property or the environment. Some safety investigators prefer to call all accidents an incident until an investigation is completed and a cause assigned.

The U.S. Department of Transportation requires an accident register for DOT recordable accidents.  The DOT defines an accident as an occurrence involving a commercial motor vehicle which results in: (a.) a fatality (b.) Bodily injury to a person who, as a result of the injury, immediately receives medical treatment away from the scene of the accident, or (c.) One or more of the vehicles incurs disabling damage, requiring it to be towed from the scene.

The term “DOT accident,” however, does not include:
1. An occurrence involving only boarding and alighting from a stationary motor vehicle;
2. An occurrence involving only the loading or unloading of cargo.

OSHA Wants to Know, Too

Other events, where someone is injured, are covered by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). While loading and unloading trucks, OSHA regulations govern, including “at the dock, at the rig, at the construction site, at the airport terminal and in all places truckers go to deliver and pick up loads.” The trucking industry is addressed in specific OSHA standards for recordkeeping and the general industry. An OSHA recordable accident is a work-related injury or illness that must be reported to OSHA.

New OSHA reporting rules became effective in 2015. Starting in 2015, employers need to immediately report the following to OSHA:

  • All work-related fatalities (report within 8 hours)
  • All work-related inpatient hospitalizations of one or more employees (report within 24 hours)
  • All work-related amputations (report within 24 hours)
  • All work-related losses of an eye (report within 24 hours)

Who is covered under the new rule?

All employers under OSHA jurisdiction must report all work-related fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations and losses of an eye to OSHA, even employers who are exempt from routinely keeping OSHA injury and illness records due to company size or industry

Employers do not have to report an event or incident to OSHA resulting from a motor vehicle accident on a public street or highway. However employers must report the event if it happened in a construction work zone.  Any injuries and illnesses that occur during an employee’s normal commute to and from work are not considered work-related, and therefore not recordable for OSHA’s purposes.

Contract Workers and Temps

OSHA’s recordkeeping regulation at Section 1904.31(a) requires employers to record the recordable injuries and illnesses of contract employees they supervise on a day-to-day basis, even if these workers are not carried on the employer’s payroll. Section 1904.31(b)(2) further clarifies that the host employer must record the injuries and illnesses of temporary workers it supervises on a day-to-day basis. Section 1904.31(b)(3) states that if the contractor’s employee is under the day-to-day supervision of the contractor, the contractor is responsible for recording the injury or illness.

Here are some of the different Types of Workforce Accidents:

Struck-by: A person is forcefully struck by an object.
The force of contact is provided by the object.

Struck-against: A person forcefully strikes an object.
The person provides the force or energy.

Contact-by: Contact by a substance or material that, by
its very nature, is harmful and causes injury.

Contact-with: A person comes in contact with a harmful substance or material. The person initiates the contact.

Caught-on: A person or part of his/her clothing or equipment is caught on an object that is either moving or stationary. This may cause the person to lose his/her balance and fall, be pulled into a machine, or suffer some other harm.

Caught-in: A person or part of him/her is trapped, or otherwise caught in an opening or enclosure.

Caught-between: A person is crushed, pinched or otherwise caught between a moving and a stationary object, or between two moving objects.

Fall-to-surface: A person slips or trips and falls to the surface he/she is standing or walking on.

Fall-to-below: A person slips or trips and falls to a level below the one he/she was walking or standing on.

Over-exertion: A person over-extends or strains himself/herself while performing work.

Bodily reaction: Caused solely from stress imposed by free movement of the body or assumption of a strained or unnatural body position. A leading source of injury.

Over-exposure: Over a period of time, a person is exposed to harmful energy (noise, heat), lack of energy (cold), or substances (toxic chemicals/atmospheres).

Safety Initiatives without any Actions are only Intentions

  • Slips and falls continue to be the biggest problem area for injuries and fatalities. Enforce the three-points-of-contact rule for climbing in and out of the truck and cranking the dollies. Proper non-slip footwear is essential not only in winter, but year-around.
  • Most hand injuries arise from not wearing gloves.
  • Drivers of flatbeds and dumps need to be made aware of the danger zone around the truck when loading or unloading. Drivers of vans and reefers should not be inside the van when powered lift trucks are loading and unloading.

Thank you for reading this. Save a safe day and a great weekend.

Loss Control: Preventing Truck Repair Shop Fires

truck shop fire

Many firms with commercial motor vehicles have in-house repair shops which may engage in anything from light repair work to full frame-up overhauls. Risk of fire and loss may increase depending on the nature of repair work done. Loss of the shop may result in the additional loss of any vehicles in or around the shop. A major shop fire could truly test business continuity.

Here are a few tips to avoid risk of fire in your truck repair shop.

Perform a Waste Audit
What types of waste are produced by the shop?
Is the waste hazardous?
Are refrigerants, solvents, batteries, used oil and antifreeze recycled?
Does the shop use a reputable recycling company for assistance in its waste stream?
Is hazardous waste kept separate in properly labeled and sealed containers?
Is the waste storage area secure from the elements (rain, snow, standing water) and unauthorized personnel?
Are written records kept of any waste stored on property?
Is hazardous waste transported by a licensed hazardous waste hauler and properly disposed?
Are waste manifests and documentation kept for at least three years?

Properly Store any Flammable and Combustible Liquids 

For small quantities (containers under 5 gallons U.S.) does the shop have an approved flammable liquids storage cabinet (designed to meet the requirements of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code)?

Does the shop have a policy limiting the storage and quantity of flammable liquids used and stored inside buildings?

Does any outdoor flammable liquids storage meet the requirements of NFPA 30?

shop

Properly Store any Compressed Gases

  • Are areas posted where gases are present?
  • Are cylinders inspected (1.) Upon delivery (visual) (2.) Per manufactures’ recommendations thereafter?
  • Are cylinders examined as soon as you receive them? If you detect signs of damage or leakage, move them to a safe, isolated area and return them to the supplier as soon as possible.
  • Are gases grouped and kept separate from combustibles?
  • Are cylinders stored upright with the steel protective cap screwed on?
  • Are full and empty cylinders kept apart when stored?
  • Are cylinders secured with chains or cables (to keep cylinders from falling over)?
  • Are cylinders stored in dry, well-ventilated areas away from exits and stairways?
  • If storing compressed gas cylinders outside, are cylinders stored off the ground and out of extremely hot or cold environments?
  • Are compressed gas containers stored away from high pedestrian and vehicle traffic areas? (Containers are more likely to be damaged there.)
  • Are oxygen cylinders stored at least 20 feet from flammables or combustibles (or separated them by a 5- foot, fire-resistant barrier)?
  • Are oil and grease kept away from oxygen cylinders, valves and hoses?
  • If hands, gloves or clothing are oily, is there a written policy in place to not handle oxygen cylinders?
  • Are fire extinguishers near the storage area, appropriate for gases stored there?

Some Gas Cylinder Do’s and Don’ts
• Do not tamper with connections and do not force connections together.
• Do not hammer valves open or closed.
• Do not drop, bang, slide, clank or roll cylinders.
• Cylinders may only be rolled along the bottom rim.
• Do not let cylinders fall or have things fall on them.
• Do not lift a cylinder by its cap unless using hand trucks so designed.
• Use carts or other material handling equipment to move cylinders. Use ropes and chains to move a cylinder only if the cylinder has special lugs to accommodate this.
• Keep cylinders secured and upright. (But never secure cylinders to conduit carrying electrical wiring.)
• When transporting compressed gas cylinders, be sure the vehicle is adequately equipped to haul compressed gases safely. (Do not haul compressed flammable gases within a van, inside a car, or in the cab of a vehicle).
• Know accident procedures.

Empty Gas Cylinders

When empty, close and return cylinders. Empty cylinders must be marked with the word EMPTY or letters MT. Empty acetylene cylinders must be so labeled. Be sure valves are closed when not using the container and before returning containers. Properly label returning containers.

Fire Extinguishers

Are fire extinguishers placed near all doorways and exits and/or to local fire codes?
Are fire extinguishers periodically inspected and serviced?
Are staff trained in use of fire extinguishers?

Ensure that access to fire extinguishers is not blocked or obstructed by any object or materials.

Other Shop Tasks

Is the shop floor swept daily and clear of combustibles?
Are shop rags placed in a fire-resistant container?
Are cleaning solvents secured when not in use?
Are any spills immediately cleaned up?

“Hot Work” (Electric or Gas Welding, Cutting, and Brazing or similar Flame Producing operations, and Grinding)

Is there a written hot work policy?
Does the hot work policy prohibit hot work in or on a tank or container unless it is properly vented?
Does the hot work policy prohibit hot work in or on any vessel, tank or container which
carries or has carried flammable materials, liquids or gases until the container
has been cleaned and tested and declared safe for “hot work” by the job safety
authority?
Are appropriate ventilating devices before and during hot work? (Opening a shop door will not provide proper ventilation in most cases.)

Hot Work Do’s and Don’ts
Never strike an arc on a compressed gas cylinder.
Always wear the appropriate type of PPE for the welding or cutting, including proper PPE and eyewear for infrared or ultraviolet radiation, depending on the process being employed.
Always wear protective ear equipment as appropriate. Protection which covers
the entire ear is recommended.

Smoking Policy

Is smoking prohibited near flammables and allowed in designated areas only?

No smoking signs should posted in all areas of the building or facility.

Other Fire Prevention Steps

Automatic sprinklers, fire suppression systems, smoke and fire detectors, etc., will help protect the facility and may result in reduced insurance premiums.

To Learn More . . .

For further protection of your truck repair shop, I strongly recommend obtaining a copy of your local building fire code and becoming familiar with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) code.

Thank you for reading this.

 

 

Understanding Whistleblower Protection

Uncle Sam

Whistleblower Protection is right of an employee to question the safety practices of an employer without the employee’s risk of losing a job or being subject to reprisals simply for stating a safety concern (29 CFR Part 1978). The the Employee Protection Provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) of 1982 was codified in 49 U.S.C. §31105.

As of October 20, 2004, every CDL driver in interstate commerce (and a number of states) must receive Whistleblower training as one of four required training areas for Entry-level Driver training.

Unlike most transportation rules, whistleblower protection regulations for drivers are not enforced by the DOT but are are administered and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

An organization or firm found in violation of whistleblower rules may have to pay fines, back wages, litigation costs, expert witness fees, and reasonable attorney fees, and have to rehire and reinstate the driver, as well as, since 2007, pay punitive damages in an amount not to exceed $250,000. Claims for several drivers filing together for protection have approached $1 Million at one company. OSHA says STAA claim filings are up almost 10% from 2011 and over 30% since 2006.

Employer Responsibilities

Earlier we noted that the Employee Protection Provision of STAA established a “right.” With every right comes a responsibility.

An employer who doesn’t like something an employee is doing at work can put them “on notice.” For example, the employee is late for work. The employer has the right to alert the employee to that fact and give them some kind of warning or ultimatum. Perhaps in that particular situation the employee was delayed by factors beyond their control. The employer should take that additional fact under consideration.

If a driver-employee (and the definition of employee here is broad including an independent contractor when personally operating a commercial motor vehicle, a mechanic, a freight handler, or an individual not an employer, who directly affects commercial motor vehicle safety or security) has a safety concern (hazardous safety or security condition), they can put the employer on notice to their safety concerns in the following two circumstances (Both circumstances are considered distinct.):

  1. An employee may refuse to operate a vehicle when such operation is in violation of any regulation, standard or order of the United States related to commercial motor vehicle safety or health.
  2. An employee may refuse to operate a vehicle when they have a reasonable apprehension of serious injury to the employee or the public. In this second instance, the employee must also have sought from the employer and been unable to obtain correction of the unsafe condition hazardous safety or security
    condition.

The activities protected under STAA include complaints to the FMCSA or other agency responsible for commercial motor carrier safety (e.g. highway patrol) or testifying in any proceeding related to a violation of commercial motor carrier safety.

In addition to being fired or laid off, an employee may suffer “adverse action” in the form of being: blacklisted; demoted; denied overtime or promotion; disciplined; denied benefits; not being hired or rehired; intimidated; a recipient of threats; reassigned affecting promotion prospects; and a recipient of reduced pay or hours.

Cases brought under the whistleblower provisions of STAA are referred to as actions alleging “retaliation” rather than “discrimination,” because focus on actions taken by the employer as a result of an employee’s protected activity rather than as a result of an employee’s characteristics (e.g., race, gender, or religion).

This doesn’t mean an employer cannot fire or demote an employee if the employer has cause. Under the Clean Harbors ruling (146 F.3d at 21-22), the employer bears “the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that it would have taken the adverse employment action in the absence of the employee’s protected activity.”

How to Avoid an STAA Claim

Have crystal clear safety policies and procedures. Written policies are better than oral.

Have clear job and work expectations. Have a process in place to report and correct any unsafe conditions or hazards.

Take seriously any report concerning safety, hazards or compliance. Make sure supervisors are attune to all safety and hazard concerns. Investigate and document.

Thank you for reading this.

J Taratuta

John Taratuta is an independent Risk Engineer. (989) 474-9599

 

Understanding the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA)

staa

The Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) is codified as 49 U.S.C. §31105. The STAA is not a “regulation” but instead a federal law. The STAA is not administered by the US DOT but instead is enforced by OSHA.

The purpose of the STAA is to protect commercial vehicle drivers from retaliatory action by carriers if they refuse to drive due to safety concerns. STAA covers not only private sector drivers (including independent contractors while personally operating a commercial motor vehicle), but other employees of commercial motor carriers (including mechanics and freight handlers), if they are involved in activities directly affecting commercial motor vehicle safety
or security.

Commercial vehicles under the STAA :

• Have a vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle
weight of at least 10,001 pounds (whichever is
greater); or,
• Are designed to transport more than 10 passengers,
including the driver; or,
• Transport materials deemed hazardous by the
Secretary of Transportation in a quantity requiring
placarding (posting) under applicable regulations.

Retaliatory action may include:

  • Firing or laying off
  • Blacklisting
  • Demoting
  • Denying overtime or promotion
  • Disciplining
  • Denying benefits
  • Failing to hire or rehire
  • Intimidation
  • Making threats
  • Reassignment affecting promotion prospects
  • Reducing pay or hours

For STAA violations OSHA may order:

  • Reinstatement of employment
  • Back pay (with interest)
  • Compensatory damages, and
  • Punitive damages, up to $250,000
  • Expungement of the driver’s employment and *DAC Report records
  • Post notices in the workplace about STAA rights for employee review.

All new CDL drivers in interstate commerce since July 20, 2004 are required to have mandatory training in their rights under the STAA (Part 380, Subpart E—Entry-Level Driver Training Requirements).

How to Avoid STAA Troubles

  • Learn and know the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
  • Have a system in place to capture and document reports of non-compliance and unsafe conditions or unsafe vehicles.
  • Take seriously any safety reports.
  • Train dispatchers and supervisors in the nuances of what could be considered “retaliatory action” under the STAA so they are aware of and do not engage in that behavior.
  • Make sure everyone is accountable for safety.
  • Review policies and company manuals to encourage reporting of any unsafe conditions or workplace non-compliance.

 

*DAC Report is the Drive-A-Check pre-employment report.

 

Machine Shop Cited by OSHA; Residential Construction Fall Protection Enforcement Extended

A machine shop in Akron, Ohio was cited with 16 safety violations resulting in a $66,000 proposed penalty.

Eight serious safety violations involve failing to evaluate each powered industrial truck operator’s performance at least once every three years, regularly inspect powered industrial vehicles, establish proper lockout/tagout procedures for the energy sources of equipment, use undamaged web slings, properly guard machines and reduce compressed air used for cleaning to 30 pounds per square inch.

Seven serious health violations involve failing to properly store flammable and combustible materials, use undamaged welding helmets, provide fire extinguishers, and use explosion-proof electrical fixtures in the paint room. One “other-than-serious” violation was failing to train workers on using and cleaning respirators.

OSHA extends temporary enforcement measures in residential construction
through December 15, 2012

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will extend for three months its temporary enforcement in residential construction. The temporary enforcement measures, now extended through December 15, 2012 include priority free on-site compliance assistance, penalty reductions, extended abatement dates, measures to ensure consistency, and increased outreach. Fatalities from falls are the number one cause of workplace death in construction.

 

OHSA Policy: Removal from the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP)

Depending on the type of OSHA violation and workplace hazards, an organization can be placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). The SVEP, a fairly new program, requires follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with OSHA’s rules and regulations.

The following memo concerning removal from the SVEP went out recently, from Thomas Galassi, Director, DEP:

SUBJECT: Removal Criteria for the Severe Violator Enforcement Program


This memorandum provides guidance on removing employers from the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). The SVEP has been in effect since June 18, 2010. To date, 288 inspections have been designated as SVEP inspections. In FY 2011, the Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP) began an in-depth evaluation of the SVEP. One of the areas considered was establishing procedures for removing employers from the program.

After reviewing the policy, DEP determined that an employer may be removed from the SVEP after a period of three years from the date of final disposition of the SVEP inspection citation items. Final disposition may occur through failure to contest, settlement agreement, Review Commission final order, or court of appeals decision. Employers must have abated all SVEP–related hazards affirmed as violations, paid all final penalties, abided by and completed all settlement provisions, and not received any additional serious citations related to the hazards identified in the SVEP inspection at the initial establishment or at any related establishments.

Except in cases where national corporate-wide settlements are involved, approval of the employer’s removal will be at the discretion of the Regional Administrator or designee and shall be based on an additional follow-up inspection and IMIS/OIS data. The Regional Administrator or his/her designee will then notify DEP via the SVEP log that the employer has been removed/lined-out. In the event that an employer fails to abate all hazards, pay all penalties, or comply with settlement terms during this three-year period, the Regional Administrator shall notify DEP with a brief summary of the situation. The employer will remain on the SVEP log for an additional three years and will then be reevaluated. For cases involving national corporate-wide settlement agreements, DEP will make the determination, upon the termination of the agreement, regarding the employer’s removal from the program. Pursuant to CPL 02-00-152, Guidelines for Administering Corporate-Wide Settlement Agreements (June 22, 2011), the National Corporate-Wide Settlement Coordinator will ensure that the follow-up requirements of the SVEP have been completed and the terms of the agreement have been implemented.

The previous guidance regarding lining-out establishments remains in effect when facts indicate that reclassification of the SVEP qualifying citations is appropriate due to the quality of evidence brought forth during settlement. However, removal from the SVEP list cannot be used as an incentive for settlement.

This policy will go into effect immediately.

Source: http://www.osha.gov/dep/enforcement/memo_SVEP_removal_criteria_082012.html