Employee Loses Arm, Company Fined 125,000 Dollars, All for Failure to Follow Safety Guidelines

 

Lost Arm in Tree Shredding Machine
 
A Christchurch, New Zealand company and one of its directors have been prosecuted after an employee lost his arm when it became trapped for several hours in a tree shredding machine, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
 
 
Fine of $100,000 and Reparations of $25,000
 
Canterbury Greenwaste Processors Ltd., and one of its directors Luke Charles Kepple, were convicted and ordered to pay fines totaling $100,000 and reparations totaling $25,000 following the incident which happened in September last year. [WCx]
 
The Christchurch District Court heard that the victim was processing greenwaste using a ‘ripper’ – a truck mounted shredding machine – and was operating a crane to lift unprocessed green waste into the machine’s hopper.
 
After climbing down from the crane cab, the worker tripped on the ground next to the truck and put his arm out to steady himself. His arm became entangled in the nip point of the unguarded conveyor belt used to transfer the processed waste away from the ripper.
 
 
Worker Trapped for Several Hours
 
“The worker remained trapped in the conveyor for several hours until emergency services were able to free the remains of his arm, which was later amputated in hospital,” said Southern General Manager for the Labour Group of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Jean Martin. [WCx]
 
 
Accident Could Have Been Avoided
 
According to Martin, “This worker experienced injury and trauma that no person should ever be subjected to. This accident could have been avoided if the company had put in place adequate machine guarding, carried out regular hazard checks, and put in place safe operating procedures for using the machinery. It should also have provided safety warning signs and measures for ensuring the ripper could be safely shut off.”
 
 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

OSHA Cites New Hampshire Employer for Nail Gun Violation

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports it recently cited Monster Contracting, LLC, for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards at a residential construction site in Manchester, NH. The Canada-based framing contractor faces a total of $59,200 in proposed fines following an inspection by OSHA's Concord Area Office.
 
 
"Employees at this job site faced the risk of disabling or deadly injuries from falls, crushing injuries or being struck by flying debris or objects while operating nail guns and other tools," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's area director for New Hampshire. "Compounding the situation was the fact that these employees lacked training that would have taught them how to recognize and avoid such hazards."[WCx]
 
 
OSHA found employees exposed to falls from heights of 6 to 20 feet while performing exterior and interior framing work without fall protection or near unguarded window, floor and stairwell openings, which resulted in a citation for one willful violation with a $28,000 fine. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
 
 
Nine serious violations with $31,200 in fines include a lack of eye protection for employees working with nail guns, power tools and staplers; damaged and misused ladders; a damaged sling used to lift walls; the employer's failure to certify that powered industrial truck operators had been trained; unsafe access to elevated areas of the building; lumber with protruding nails in a work area; not training employees to recognize fall, material handling, electrical and flying object hazards; and not training employees in the safe operation of power tools and the proper use of ladders.
 
 
A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.[WCx]
 
 
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
 

New York State Crackdown on Workers Comp

Fraud Nets 18 Arrests

 
A recent crackdown on workers compensation fraud in New York State led to the arrests of 18 people in 13 counties.
 
 
According to information from the State Department of Financial Services, the arrests include people who continued to be employed after claiming they were disabled, faked injuries to collect payments and one woman who cashed the checks of her deceased husband. [WCx]
 
 
Superintendent of DFS Benjamin Lawsky noted the arrests were the latest attempt to save employers money by reeling in workers comp fraud.
 
 
“Workers compensation fraud is a serious crime that victimizes honest businesses and taxpayers who are forced to shoulder the burden of higher premiums. Strong anti-fraud activities complement the state’s ongoing work to drive down the cost of workers’ compensation insurance,” Lawsky remarked.
 
 
The arrests were the result of a series of joint investigations led by DFS, along with the Office of the Inspector General of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, the New York State Insurance Fund and other insurers. [WCx]
 
 
All of those taken into custody are innocent until proven guilty.
 
 

Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He is an editor and contributor to Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

7 Keys to Reducing Workers Compensation Losses in 2012

 
It is never too late to start thinking about how to be more proactive when it comes to handling your insurance losses. You can implement a program or plan any time, provided you roll it out to the right people and your employees or workers understand the initiatives and reasons behind it.
 
 
Sometimes workers don’t understand how insurance works. Commercial insurance is a monster to address. It is hard to explain how an underwriter comes up with the numbers they do in order to assign a premium to your workplace. But the bottom line that should be communicated is that every dollar that goes out from the insurance company/TPA could affect the insurance cost. If you have higher costs, maybe you cannot give out higher bonuses. Or maybe increased costs result in certain workers not getting a pay raise. All workers will understand when you put it into a sense of how if affects them directly. So let’s go over some simple loss reduction techniques to refresh your mind for 2012:
 
 
1. Make a commitment to promoting safety
If you are going to do this, go all out. You need to establish the rules and procedures, and then you need to come up with a way to drill it into everyone’s mind. The perfect way is by having rules enforced, and violators punished. Not harsh, severe punishments, but more than a slap on the wrist. Make them park in the back of the lot. Make them wear a different color safety hat than everyone else, or a vest that claims they broke the safety rules. Have the punishment be something that is part tongue-in-cheek, but it gets the point across and leads to some good natured ribbing from other coworkers.
 
 
On the other side, reward safety achievements. Use gas cards or coupons for free food as gifts. Do raffles and hand out a few prizes to the person that was the most safety-oriented. Whatever you do, make the reward something more tangible than a pat on the back.
 
 
Also you can post safety rules and violations on signs and place them all over your work floor, in the bathrooms, in the break areas, etc. Make sure they are at eye-level where people can see them, and color them accordingly so they are hard to miss. Use diagrams and stick people to represent the injury that could occur if you stuck your hand into the saw blade with the machine on. If may seem elementary, but your workers will see those drawings everyday and probably laugh at them, but the more they look at them, the more they remember, and the safer they just might be.
 
 
2. Make safety paramount
When you have a safe work environment, you have more productive employees. This is due to the fact that your safe machines are running like they should. Nobody is worried about something breaking or someone getting injured by doing certain jobs. Safe workplaces have fewer workers comp claims.
 
 
Obviously there is a direct link between safety and work comp. The less safe you are, the more work comp injuries you will have. And that leads into higher premium exposure. If your claims skyrocket, the costs increase, and that could increase the cost of your premium for your work comp policy. So it all begins with safety. Safety is the key to keeping comp costs down. Which, in-turn, controls premium costs.
 
 
3. Have well-defined safety policies and the need to implement them
If workers are not following the safety rules, that is a problem. A rare violator that has to wear the vest of shame is one thing. But if you have a guy breaking the safety rules everyday, you have an issue. You have to investigate why the worker is not following the rules. Document your findings, and then follow through with safety training or re-education on the proper safety function for the particular machine or device they may be using. Maybe they were taught by another employee to use the machine incorrectly. Whatever the reason, investigate it, document it, then retrain and follow through until the person understands and is capable of safely operating the device or doing the work task within your defined safety rules and procedures.
 
 
4. Can the employer fire a worker that disobeyed a direct, known safety protocol?
Wow, is this a Pandora ’s Box of a question!!!!! There are numerous case law decisions within any jurisdiction that comment on this matter. I hear this question ALL THE TIME! The answer is "Yes, sometimes" and "No, at other times." 

My advice is to always consult your counsel and adjuster before you do anything. Improper termination may open yourself to a world of fines and legal issues, and even though you think you may be doing the right thing that is not for you to decide. Consult your attorney before ever making such a decision. The choice will vary by accident, and no two will be the same.

 
 
5. Safety violations cost employers money!
If people are hurt, they cannot do their job, which decreases production, which in turn decreases profit. Jobs get completed late, others have to make up for the gap in work, etc. As mentioned earlier, safety violations in any form will always cost you money. The safer you are, the more productive, the more profitable. 
 
Think Zero Accidents as your goal! People say, "Oh, that's impossible." But it's only impossible if you don't try.  
 
 
6. High employee morale helps to reduce losses
Several studies show the link between morale and workers comp losses. Happy workers are happy because they have jobs they like; they have manageable workloads, safe working environments, etc. Disgruntled employees are overworked, underpaid, and under stress. They typically are working with potentially unsafe materials, in an unsafe shop, where there is a lot of risk for injury. Sooner or later they will stumble upon that risk, and injure themselves.
 
 
Actually the studies linking morale to work comp show they are linked up mostly in subjective injuries: back pain, muscle pain, headaches, etc. The more unhappy the workforce, the more subjective claims seem to surface.
 
 
7. Timely claim reporting saves money
And as always, and we say it time and time again, the sooner you get that work comp claim to your carrier to be assigned to an adjuster, the quicker they are on the case, the better the result will be. The more you delay in calling it in, the more it will cost you down the road.  WCxKit
 
 
So, remember, it’s never too late to start thinking about safety, and how it impacts your bottom line. Think carefully about each job task and what risks your workers face. Solicit feedback from your employees. Involve them in this process, and hear what they have to say. The more they are involved, the more they will participate, and the more successful your program will be. Be safe!

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Manage Your Workers Compensation: Reduce Costs 20-50% www.WCManual.com. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 

NEW 2012 WORKERS COMP BOOK:  www.WCManual.com 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

OSHA Proposes 175,500 in Fines for Massachusetts Employer

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited Spincraft in North Billerica for 38 alleged violations of workplace safety standards.
 
 
According to an OSHA report, an inspection was opened after the agency learned that a worker sustained serious eye and facial injuries when the grinding wheel of the portable grinder he was operating ruptured and kicked back in his face. Inspectors found that the grinder was not guarded or set up properly, and steps had not been taken to ensure that it was operated at the proper speed. The metal fabrication plant faces a total of $175,500 in proposed penalties. (WCxKit)
 
 
The inspection also uncovered other hazards throughout the plant, including obstructed exit access, improper propane storage, failure to inspect cranes on a frequent and regular basis, failure to inspect crane running ropes and test crane upper limit switches, a lack of hazard communication training and numerous electrical hazards, as well as unguarded ladder way openings, floor holes, and open-sided floors and platforms.
 
 
A total of 32 serious violations carrying $173,000 in proposed penalties were cited. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. (WCxKit)
 
 
Six other-than-serious violations with $2,500 in fines were cited for undocumented energy control procedures and additional machine guarding, crane, electrical and hazard communication issues. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
 
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Our WORKERS COMP BOOK:  www.WCManual.com
 
 

 

WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Georgia Refuse Recycler Investigated Worker Found Dead Inside Machine

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited Georgia-based Marietta Industrial Enterprises Inc., which operates Refuse Recycling in Marietta, for 21 safety violations, including two willful, violations.
 
 
According to OSHA, it opened an inspection after a worker was found dead inside the rotating drum assembly of a machine used to screen recyclables from other refuse. (WCxKit)
 
 
Two willful violations involve failing to implement lockout/tagout procedures to prevent equipment from becoming unexpectedly energized and to train workers in lockout/tagout procedures. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
 
 
Additionally, 14 serious violations involve failing to provide machine guarding, provide adequate guardrails, mark and illuminate emergency and exit signs, evaluate the workplace to determine if there were any confined spaces that would require permits, examine powered industrial trucks prior to each shift, ensure that employees used electrical protective equipment, provide electrically insulated tools develop an exposure control plan for bloodborne pathogens, offer hepatitis B vaccines and label biohazard containers. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
 
 
Finally, five other-than-serious violations involve using work areas for storage, as well as failing to record work-related injuries, maintain clean conditions, provide a written respiratory protection program and provide employees with information for voluntary respirator use. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious injury.
 
 
As a result of the investigation, Marietta Industrial Enterprises has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. (WCxKit)
 

SVEP is intended to focus on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations in one or more of the following circumstances: a fatality or catastrophe, industry operations or processes that expose workers to severe occupational hazards, employee exposure to hazards related to the potential releases of highly hazardous chemicals and all per-instance citation (egregious) enforcement actions.

 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT:  www.WCManual.com
 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact

Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

British Laundry Firm Gets Dressing Down for Ignoring Safety Suggestions

A Battersea, Great Britain laundry firm showed scant regard for employee wellbeing and safety after ignoring instructions to make it easier and safer for workers to move heavy loads of laundry, London magistrates heard recently.
 
 
According to a report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Niva UK (Ltd), trading as Sunbeam Laundry, failed to act on two separate Improvement Notices served by HSE following a routine inspection of its premises at the London Stone Business Estate, on Broughton Street. (WCxKit)
 
 
The first Improvement Notice required the removal of bags of laundry and other items from walkways, including a stairway, and the entrance to a female staff toilet. The second required an urgent review and improvements to reduce the lifting and handling of laundry.
 
 
City of London Magistrates Court heard that when HSE made a return inspection two months later, Niva had done nothing to comply with either notice. Employees were still carrying heavy loads through blocked walkways and were routinely risking tripping and falling as a result. (WCxKit)
 
 
The company pleaded guilty to two separate breaches of Section 33 (1) (g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for failing to take action and was fined $3,155.6 and ordered to pay $7,986.32 in costs.
 

Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Our WORKERS COMP BOOK:  www.WCManual.com
 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact

11 Serious Safety Violations Cost Georgia Employer $51K Fine

 

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Plastican Inc. in Macon, a division of Bway Holding Corp., with 11 safety violations following an April inspection of the company's facility. Proposed penalties total $51,757. Bway Holding Corp., a North American manufacturer of rigid metal and plastic containers, has its corporate office in Atlanta and acquired Plastican Inc. in October 2010. The Macon facility manufactures plastic open head pails and screw top injection pails.
 
 
A serious violation occurs, when a known or unknown potentially deadly or harmful hazard is found. According to the OSHA report, 10 serious violations were reported including:
(1) exposing employees to falling hazards citing platform missing mid-rail;
(2) failure to develop lockout and tag out procedures for the energy sources of the injection molding machine, grinders, and blenders;
(3) allowing unguarded equipment;
(4) open holes of junction boxes located throughout the plant;
(5) no labeling  of electrical panel breakers;
(6) obstructing access to the electrical panels;
(7) exposing electrical parts on equipment;
(8) failure to wire a fan directly to a switch;
(9) slip and trip hazards; 
(10) flexible cords being used as permanent wiring. (WCxKit)
 
One other-than-serious violation is being cited for failing to certify monthly inspections of hooks for the overload crane. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably will not cause death or serious physical harm. (WCxKit)
 
 
"This inspection identified a broad range of hazards that, if left uncorrected, expose workers to electric shock, potential falls and 'caught-in' hazards posed by work around machinery," said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. "Employers cannot wait for an OSHA inspection to identify the hazards that expose their employees to serious injury. It is good business to implement preventive programs and systems to ensure that such hazards are identified and corrected as part of day-to-day operations."
 

Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.


Our WORKERS COMP BOOK:
www.WCManual.com

WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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