Workers Memorial Day: We Need Strong Workplace Safety and Health Protections

Here are a few recent reports about the grim toll of industrial fatalities and the hazards workers are exposed to every day, from the Cal-OSHA Reporter and other sources. Hopefully, they will remind you why we need a strong federal enforcement effort and much better programs of workers compensation for occupational injuries and illnesses. A recent NPR/ProPublica report was a wake-up call about how state legislatures are gutting the programs that compensate employees for lost limbs, lost eyes and damaged hearing, compensate them for lost wages, and pay for the medical care of injured workers.

Bumble Bee Foods facing criminal charges over worker death: “Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey on April 27 announced that Bumble Bee Foods LLC and two others are facing criminal charges related to willfully violating worker safety rules and causing the 2012 death of an employee who became trapped inside an industrial oven at the company’s Santa Fe Springs plant.”

OSHA: York workers exposed to asbestos: “A York County company is facing a nearly half-million-dollar fine for allegedly failing to protect employees from asbestos. The York City-based First Capital Insulation Inc. allowed workers to remove asbestos improperly, failed to make sure employees’ respirators fit correctly and did not decontaminate employees and their clothing before they left a work site, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration stated in a news release this week.”

Police: Man dies in Oklahoma City industrial accident: “Oklahoma City police say a worker has died at an area commercial printing business after being trapped under a piece of machinery.”

Worker killed in cinder block wall collapse, Ramsey police say: “A 56-year-old construction worker was killed in a wall collapse at a Ramsey, New Jersey building on Wednesday, officials said.”

One electrocuted, 2 others hurt at construction site: “One man died and two others were injured after being electrocuted at a construction site in Ontario County, New York on Tuesday.”

Employee burned after falling into phosphoric acid: “A maintenance employee for Mosaic in Gibsonton, Florida fell into a tank of phosphoric acid early Wednesday morning, burning 50 percent of his body.”

Suburban Chicago siding company facing $103K in fines over safety violations: “A northwest suburban company faces $103,000 in fines for safety violations that could have caused workers to be seriously cut or have limbs amputated, according to federal officials. Rollex Corp., a maker of metal home siding products, is facing its third set of violations in three years, according to a statement from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”

Local apartments to pay nearly $1M to electrocution victim family: “Last Friday, a judge ordered the owner of the Park Tower Apartments in Lubbock, Texas to pay out $950,000 to the surviving family of an employee electrocuted there in April 2014. According to the lawsuit filed by his family, the 43-year-old man died while installing a new fire alarm system on the Park Tower’s ninth floor. Something went wrong, and he was electrocuted… According to OSHA’s website, their report opened on April 10th found five serious violations, and they fined Park Tower $31,000.”

Golden Corral worker loses fingers in meat grinder at Orlando restaurant: “Orlando resident Joshua Simpkins lost four fingers yesterday after a meat grinder caught his left hand at a Golden Corral restaurant, according to police. The accident happened at 7:45 a.m. while Simpkins, 19, was grinding pork in the meat room of the restaurant at 5535 S. Kirkman Road, records state. A co-worker was carrying a tray of just-sliced bacon to the kitchen when he heard screaming, saw Simpkins’ bloody hand and told someone to call 911.”


Duke Energy fined in connection with worker death: “Duke Energy Florida Inc. has been fined $90,000 in connection with the death of a former employee who was electrocuted late last year. Officials from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected a Duke Energy substation in Reddick after the death of Christopher Lee Dasher and found that the company was responsible for one willful and four serious safety violations.”

Mechanical failure blamed for deadly Tarpon Springs explosion: “The Florida Fire Marshal says a mechanical failure led to an explosion that killed an employee of a Tarpon Springs gas plant. The 29-year-old man of was killed in the blast at the MagneGas Corporation plant, police said. Investigators said he was operating the tank at the time of the mechanical failure. They said it appears as though he was wearing the proper safety gear and handling the equipment appropriately.”


Mississippi contractor facing thousands in fines for worker death: An Ocean Springs contractor has been found guilty of willful and major violations in the death of 42-year-old Gerald Moran, who fell more than 20 feet from an Ocean Springs home last November. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said the company, Thomas Matthews Framing, LLC, had not installed safety guardrails on the balcony, which ‘might have saved the life of the 42-year-old father.'”


Investigation continues in Indiana grain elevator explosion: “Four workers remain hospitalized after an explosion Thursday at a LaPorte, Indiana grain elevator. Two are at a Fort Wayne burn unit—one in critical, the other in serious condition.”