Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Once Kicked, Don't Stand Behind the Donkey"

The article below from the Taunton Daily Gazette shows the total use of Donkey type work practices a company can use that could have not only injured their workers, but could have been that many fatalities.

A little Horse Sense and the provision of a Safety Person with authority to shut down unsafe work conditions can prevent such incidents as is noted in this article.

It seems that this contractor didn't learn from previous citations that "once cited, don't put your workers in the same type perils."

Company faces fines in roof collapse

GateHouse News Service
Posted May 27, 2008 @ 11:30 PM

Taunton —

A Rhode Island construction company has been cited for 15 safety violations and faces $239,600 in fines stemming from the Dec. 4 collapse of a warehouse that was under construction in Liberty and Union Industrial Park.

Ajax Construction of Harrisville, R.I., had no comment Tuesday on the citations and fines the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed.
OSHA’s months-long inspection determined that a truck was improperly used at the warehouse construction site to straighten a steel column that was disconnected from an overhead girder. Once the column was pulled out, the girder and overhead roof deck collapsed, injuring eight workers.

“The sizable fines proposed here reflect both the gravity of the hazards found at this job site, and the employer’s knowledge of and failure to correct them,” said OSHA area director Brenda Gordon.

“This employer’s refusal to properly follow basic steel erection procedures placed employees at risk of crushing and other catastrophic injuries or death before, during and after the collapse.”

The Dec. 4 accident happened as workers were connecting 40-foot steel roof panels on the warehouse, which is in the Phase II and III sections of the industrial park. Shortly before 10 a.m., eight of the giant panels collapsed inward, sending the workers tumbling 30 feet to the cement floor.

After the roof collapse, an Ajax official repeatedly entered the site, even though entry was prohibited because the building had not yet been stabilized, OSHA said.
For those conditions, plus the alleged failure to maintain structural stability while erecting steel, OSHA issued Ajax Construction four willful citations, carrying $212,000 in proposed fines.

OSHA also has issued the company nine serious citations, with $21,000 in proposed fines, for allegedly exposing employees to struck-by hazards while the powered industrial truck was used to straighten steel columns; improper lifting slings; commencing steel erection without written notification as to the strength of concrete used for the base; improper modification of anchor bolts; and several steel erection deficiencies within an adjacent structure also under construction.

In addition, OSHA has issued Ajax one repeat citation, with a $6,000 proposed fine, for allegedly having an inadequate fall-protection lifeline. The company was cited for a similar condition in 2006 at a Wallingford, Conn., work site.

Ajax Construction also faces a $600 fine for allegedly failing to complete an OSHA illness and injury log in a timely manner.

The company has 15 days to decide whether to contest the citations and fines before an independent review commission.

Update on the KCP&L Site's Crane Incident
The article below, from the Business Wire, in Kansas City, Mo provides evidence that Kansas City Power and Light is making every effort to find the cause incident that injured three workers and killed another. They are using good, Horse Sense in sealing the accident area of the job site, providing guidance counseling and working with OSHA to assist in determining the cause(s) of the incident.

Update Regarding Iatan Construction Site Accident

KANSAS CITY, Mo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Friday morning, May 23, Alstom, KCPLs principal contractor for the Iatan construction project, had an accident involving a large crane at the Iatan construction site. Four contractors were injured, including one fatality. The remaining three injured contractors were taken to local area hospitals, where they were treated for their injuries and subsequently released. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the injured and deceased.

Following is a statement from Bill Downey, chief executive officer of KCP&L:

Safety is of paramount importance to all of us at KCP&L. This morning, the Iatan construction workforce returned to site and safety 'stand-downs' were held with all personnel. Because the majority of workers were released from the job site immediately following the accident, the meetings provided an opportunity for them to ask questions and learn about the steps taken since the accident. During the meeting, the importance of safety on the job site was reemphasized. In addition, grief counselors are on site and are available to all personnel over the next few days.

We have taken several immediate steps to launch recovery efforts and undertake the formal accident review process. These steps include preserving the evidence at the accident site, maintaining the quarantine area in its original state, and developing teams tasked with all aspects of the recovery process.

This evaluation and investigation process is ongoing and will take an extended period of time. We are working with OSHA investigators on-site as they conduct their investigation. Determining the root cause will require extensive analysis. Alstom, we and other involved parties have retained independent experts to assist with various parts of the investigation.

About Kansas City Power & Light

Headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., KCP&L ( is a leading regulated provider of electricity in the Midwest. KCP&L is a wholly owned subsidiary of Great Plains Energy Incorporated (NYSE: GXP), the holding company for KCP&L and Strategic Energy L.L.C., a competitive electricity supplier.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Accident Victim Receives Jury Award

The incident below is an article was written by Jamie Satterfield of The Knox News regarding a worker who fell quite a long distance, landing on concrete. As noted in the article, this worker was not anchored to a proper point that would support approximately 5,000 pounds of force as required by OSHA Standards.

There seems to be a problem relating to why a beam was removed that apparently caused the fall. It appears that "SOMEONE(S)" were not using Horse Sense in assuring that all workers in the immediate area were coordinating the work. This is pretty well obvious that the responsible parties were following Donkey methods in this incident.

HomeNewsLocal News

Worker wins accident verdict

$3.8M awarded in mishap on construction site

A Knox County jury earlier this week awarded a steel worker $3.8 million in damages for a construction accident that robbed him of his livelihood, and, according to his attorney, his will to live.

Jurors in Knox County Circuit Court sided with attorneys Dan C. Stanley and Travis E. Venable in their bid to recover damages for Frank Potter, 40, of Knoxville in connection with a February 2005 accident on the construction site of the Four Points by Sheraton Cumberland House Hotel on White Avenue.

The jury returned a total judgment in the case of $4.75 million but cut the verdict against Blount Contractors Inc. by 20 percent for what the panel deemed Potter's negligence in not wearing a safety harness. The attorney for Blount Contractors could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

The Cumberland House Hotel is a seven-story boutique hotel whose owners include former University of Tennessee football quarterback Peyton Manning.

Potter was working for subcontractor B&M Steel Erectors on the construction of the hotel at the time of the accident.

According to Stanley and court records, Potter was on a platform on the top level of the structure under construction. That platform was being supported by a temporary support beam.

An employee of Blount Contractors removed the support beam while Potter was working on the platform, creating a trap door through which Potter fell, Stanley said.

"He fell 26 feet onto concrete," Stanley said. "He ended up crushing his pelvis, crushing his knee and crushing his face."

At the trial, which lasted more than a week, Blount Contractors argued that the firm was ordered by the general contractor to remove the support beam. Stanley said the general contractor denied that claim, and the jury ultimately rejected it as well.

Stanley said Potter is no longer able to work in the steel industry. "He has worked as a steel worker for 25 years, since he was 16 years old," Stanley said.

His injuries were permanent and painful. He's undergone hip replacement surgery and has metal pins in his knees and metal plates in his face. He suffered pain so severe and sustained that he twice threatened suicide, Stanley said.

"A psychiatrist testified his pain was so bad he tried to kill himself," Stanley said.

His medication has since been adjusted to lessen the emotional toil of what will be a lifetime spent in chronic pain, the attorney said.

Even Potter's lifestyle has been changed as a result of the accident, he said.

"The guy was active," Stanley said. "He camped. He fished."

Jamie Satterfield may be reached at 865-342-6308

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Fmr. Iatan Crane Operators:
Accident Was Inevitable.

The operators said a lot of lip service was given
to safety.

Two former crane operators at the Iatan Two Plant said they both
walked off the job last year after repeatedly complaining that not
enough was being done to keep people from getting hurt.

The men didn't operate the crane that tipped over on Friday, but
they did operate other cranes on the Iatan job site.

They agreed to talk to FOX 4 because they're upset. They said the
company, Alstom Construction, had plenty of warnings there were
serious safety problems, but ignored them.

"The way things were going up there it was inevitable," said Greg
Hurst, crane operator.

Hurst and Mike Wimmer have been operating cranes more than
60 years. Both worked for Alstom on the Iatan Two site until last
December. That's when they said they walked off the job because
they didn't feel safe.

"We had some issues with one of the cranes I was running," said

He said the gigantic boom on his crane would suddenly start moving
without him controlling it. He said it was just one of the series of
safety concerns he'd been having since he started working for
AlstomConstruction at the Iatan Two Plant.

"I told them I wasn't running it like that. It's not supposed to operate
like that and their answer was we'll take you off of it and put
somebodyelse on it," said Hurst.

Who did they put on it? Mike. Mike said he had problems with the
crane suddenly booming down for no reason.

"That's pretty serious. Like if your car just takes off and goes where
it wants to. It's not a good thing," said Wimmer.

He said Alstom Construction Company wanted him to keep driving
it anyway.

"Go ahead and run it like it was, and, I said 'No.' I don't need it. I'm
gone," said Wimmer.

Both men said they walked off the job that same day.

"As a crane operator, you are pressured into doing things you
don't want to do sometimes and you have to draw that line," said

FOX 4 has calls into Alstom Construction. But, has not heard back.

Kansas City Power & Light said it always has its safety experts on
the construction site. But, the crane operators told FOX 4 they
thought a lot of lip service was given to safety. But, there was no
real action.

Linda Wagar, FOX 4 News

The above article indicates, through two former crane
operators on the project, that the contractor doesn't have
a good record of performing required safety inspections and
fails to address safety items that are noted by the operators.
If this proven the case, OSHA should come down hard on them
for exposing all their workers on this site to dangers of
unsafe lifting equipment. OSHA Standards clearly spell out
inspections to cranes and requirements for recording these
inspections. Also, it is required that unsafe items noted in
these inspections be corrected IMMEDIATELY before the crane
is placed back into service.

This doesn't take much Horse Sense to follow these require
ments instead of going the Donkey way and wind up getting
workers killed on their job sites.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The following article from the Sacrimento Bee again shows the value of contractors and Cal OSHA working together to solve safe methods of using a very dangerous, but very important tool on construction sites including House Builders, Commercial or Industrial Builders to complete their work in a timely, Horse Sense way.

Nail gun 'e-tools' in works

Workplace safety officials and builders plan to use the Web in drive to halt construction accidents.

By Andrew McIntosh -

Published 12:00 am PDT Saturday, May 17, 2008
Story appeared in MAIN NEWS section, Page A3

LIVERMORE – State workplace safety officials and leading home builders and contractors are turning to a different kind of tool – the Web – to counter the growing nail gun injury problem in California's construction trade.

Cal-OSHA officials and builders have agreed to collect and Web-publish information about the hazards of nail guns this summer. Their goal: get companies to use the materials to offer better training to their workers and reduce accidents.

"We need to share what works and why," said Michael C. Alvarez, a Sacramento-based regional manager for Cal-OSHA's safety consultation service. "Yes, there's the accidents, but what can we do and learn from each other to improve the situation?"

Cal-OSHA's plan to create a set of nail gun "e-tools" emerged during a recent builders' conference organized at Shea Homes' Northern California headquarters in response to The Bee's nail gun hazards investigation published last month.

The story reported that the most dangerous tools had an automatic firing system called a "contact trip" and that Cal-OSHA's past efforts to push for safer alternatives were derailed by industry groups.

Alvarez emphasized that Cal-OSHA's consultation service will develop nail gun safety materials as part of its mission to help companies adopt safer work methods.

Cal-OSHA already has similar e-tools for ladder safety, lifting heavy objects and management of heat stress. Existing e-tools are free and offer a mix of videos, tip sheets and booklets that can be downloaded or printed, and audio slide shows. Some offer pictures for workers who can't read.

At the nail gun safety conference, leading safety managers joined foremen and superintendents to discuss efforts to curb nail gun injuries, while sharing safety advice and documents.

Jack Connors, a regional safety manager for home builder Toll Brothers, said some construction bosses assume that because anyone can buy nail guns at Home Depot, they are not a specialized tool.

Ozvaldo Padilla, a Sheehan Construction foreman, agreed, saying builders might consider adopting their own requirements for air-fired nail gun users.

Padilla said the state already requires training and certification for people who operate gunpowder-fired nail guns, which blast nails into steel and concrete, and injuries are much rarer.

Alvarez said that because construction companies have liability for all accidents at their sites, they cannot accept workers' assurances that they know how to safely use nail guns. They must be trained and monitored, he said.

But Guy Sandahl, safety director at Select Build, said home builders set production schedules so tight, it can be challenging to emphasize safety.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Top Ten Lifesaving Info in Earthquakes

I received this as an email from a friend in Oregon regarding Coug Copp's article on lifesaving actions to take in the event of an earthquake. Doug's tips are different from ones that I've seen before, but they make Horse Sense to me.

This is most definitely worth reading. Amazing when you think what we were
taught to do when we were children. How wrong they were!!


My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world's most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake.

The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City
during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under their desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene, unnecessary and I wondered why the children were not in the aisles. I didn't at the time know that the children were told to hide under something. Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them. This space is what I call the 'triangle of life'. The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object
compacts, the larger the void, the greater the proba bility that the person
who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the 'triangles' you see formed. It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building. They are everywhere.


1) Most everyone who simply 'ducks and covers' WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE, are crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed.
How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you
will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different 'moment of frequency' (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads - horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by t he earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible
It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles, which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able t o get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.


Propane Cylinder Alerts

The following article forwarded to me by my son in west Texas could save many lives due to the deteorization of the valves on propane cylinders. Thus making total Horse Sense, A simple color check of valves on EXCHANGE Propane cylinders.

Do not skip over this, thinking that "I don't have anhydrous ammonia around my place." You probably don't but the people who make illegal

Please read and heed the warnings in this post very carefully.

The below information was sent to us from ExxonMobil Complex here in Baton Rouge.


Subject: Safety Announcement: Propane Tank Danger

Hello everyone,

For those of you who like to grill it up during the summer, here's a safety announcement you should be aware of... Please put this information out to ALL personnel. This message was sent to me and I thought it should be shared. I personally do not exchange my propane tank. For those of you that do, this is something you definitely need to be aware of, especially in light of the recent news of "Meth-labs" in our area.

The following came from an email sent to me:

"There was a meth training/workshop yesterday and there was a lot of great new information presented. I wanted to let you all know about one thing that I was not aware of.

Meth cooks are getting the propane tanks from the exchanges at Wal-Mart, Kroger, etc. and emptying them of the propane. Then, they are filling them with anhydrous ammonia (which they now have a recipe for). After they are finished with them, they return them to the store. They are then refilled with propane and sent back for you and me to buy. Anhydrous ammonia is very corrosive and weakens the structure of the tank. It can be very dangerous when mixed with propane and hooked up to our grills, etc.

According to our presenter, you should inspect the propane tank for any blue or greenish residue around the valve areas. If it is present, refuse to purchase that one. The information was researched, and you should check out the following website for more details. They also have pictures you can show.

Please click on the site below, the information it contains could save your life!

Be careful out there!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Note: This is a very long post, but I feel like it is worthwhile and important reading:

The following article appeared in the Las Vegas Sun on May 12, 2008. There are a number of directions to place blame in the causes of 10 fatalities in the Vegas Strip building projects.

The very long article has statements from Democrats who truly act like Donkeys in blaming "The Bush Administration" for all problems related to OSHA safety regulation enforcement. The Republicans want to blame Dems and others for the problems. And, the trades want to blame everyone.

In my over 40 years in the construction industry dealing with safety and safe work practices, I can see blame in most all these areas. First of all, the trades were the most staunch opponents of the creation of OSHA trying to set rules for keeping the workers from maiming or killing themselves by the rules changing so many ways that these workers have been playing "monkey" walking steel without fall protection, trenching without proper cave in practices in place and on and on.

This is followed by construction companies' attitudes thinking the cost of subscribing to safe work practices and incorporating them into their work practices and trying to eke by the rules as dictated by the OSHA Regulations.

Some fault lies in the typical complicated governmental language in the original regulation production causing trades and contractors to feel that they scare them all to death trying to figure ways around full compliance.

Then the congressional bickering between the Democrats and Republicans trying to blame the other for anything that goes wrong on these projects.

I feel that stiff monetary fine increases, up to and including putting some of the companies with multiple violations out of business should be looked at seriously for willful and fatal incidents. Contractors and the trades should not be "at each others throats" but work together to complywith the existing regulations as a joint venture to perform construction work in harmony to prevent on the job injuries and deaths.

Likewise, the congress needs to back off infighting and work together to provide standards that make Horse Sense that both construction parties can work together for the safety of the workers.

Congress needs to back off trying to create so many more complicated standards and work with the OSHA offices and state OSHA groups to simplify the standards, thus creating true safe work sites.


Keeping the heat on OSHA

U.S. House panel to review agency’s safety standards on industry

Sun, May 11, 2008 (2 a.m.)

Sun Topics

— Citing the deaths of 10 workers on the Las Vegas Strip, a House panel will hold a hearing to review construction safety standards and the conduct of government agencies responsible for overseeing workplace safety.

California Democratic Rep. Lynn Woolsey said the workforce protections subcommittee she leads plans to hold a hearing this summer to investigate the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s regulations of the construction industry.

“What’s happening in Las Vegas and other major cities, including New York ... there’s this need to move faster” so that the buildings are completed by deadlines, Woolsey said. “It’s taking its toll and it’s killing or injuring our workers — all so some big buildings can get built quickly.”

The Las Vegas Sun has reported that construction workers on the Strip say pressure to work faster during the current $32 billion building boom forces them and their bosses to take shortcuts, often at the expense of safety. Ten workers have died in Strip construction projects in the past 17 months.

Those deaths and others elsewhere raise a question, Woolsey said. “Do we need to change the regulations or do we need to make sure the regulations are being followed?”

Woolsey’s subcommittee will review the adequacy of OSHA safety standards in the construction industry. Her panel falls under the House Education and Labor Committee led by fellow California Rep. George Miller, a strong advocate of OSHA reforms. The staff of Miller’s committee “has been monitoring the situation in Las Vegas,” a spokesman said.

“The failure to adequately protect these workers is a direct result of an agency that doesn’t dedicate enough resources to inspect most job sites nor the political will to hold employers accountable when they put workers at risk,” committee spokesman Aaron Albright said. “Our committee has seen similar patterns all across the country.”

On the Senate side, the health and labor committee led by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., is examining whether regulators are being aggressive enough in enforcing existing safety standards and in punishing contractors who disregard those standards.

Kennedy and Woolsey have introduced identical bills to increase penalties on employers for workplace safety violations. The bills have been introduced in past congressional sessions but had little traction until Democrats rose to power in 2007.

Democrats take issue with what they see as the Bush administration’s preference for a voluntary industry approach to safety, which they say has left federal OSHA operating at less than full speed.

The agency has issued relatively few new safety standards under the Bush administration, and has withdrawn or moved slowly on issuing construction standards to regulate workplace safety, congressional aides and labor union representatives say.

Another issue is the size of fines for violations and OSHA’s budget for enforcement, both of which have failed to keep pace with inflation.

Kennedy said in a brief interview last week that the problems in OSHA lie with “both the substance and the process.”

“The substance is completely inadequate in terms of the penalties, and the failure to enforce it in a vigorous and substantial way,” Kennedy said.

The Protect America’s Workers Act, as the Kennedy and Woolsey bills are called, would increase fines on employers for workplace safety violations and give workers greater recourse for appeal. It would also raise criminal penalties for the first time since the original act was approved in 1970, imposing felony prison terms of up to 10 years on repeat offenders.

The legislation also would create a new minimum financial penalty for worker deaths. The Sun reported that in many of the Strip construction deaths, Nevada OSHA has reduced or even completely withdrawn findings of wrongdoing by contractors.

For example, after an ironworker fell 59 feet to his death, Nevada OSHA imposed $13,500 in fines for safety failures by the contractor. But after meeting with the contractor, OSHA withdrew all citations and fines.

The legislation would still let companies negotiate over citations. But if a violation were upheld, employers would face a minimum fine of $20,000 when deaths occur from serious workplace violations or $50,000 for deaths due to willful violations.

Nevada Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley said she had been reluctant to support increases in fines without broader OSHA overhauls to ensure the agency would have the funding it needs to do its job. But she signed on to the bill last week “given the situation in Nevada and the seriousness of the problem,” she said in an interview.

“OSHA has been flatlined since this administration took over,” Berkley said. “How many people have to die at a construction site ... before you realize you can’t continue like this and pretend to the American public that you’re actually protecting them?”

Nevada’s Republicans in Washington, Reps. Jon Porter and Dean Heller and Sen. John Ensign, declined to comment for this story.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has announced that his office will join in a meeting with developers, labor representatives and OSHA officials to ensure that safety standards are being followed and enforced. That meeting is being put together by Steve Ross, a Las Vegas city councilman who also heads the local building and construction trades council.

Reid’s office said the senator thinks “Congress needs to look at the entire situation — that includes compliance and enforcement of existing regulations — and expand both where necessary,” a spokesman said.

Construction industry groups and key Republican lawmakers think any legislation to bolster fines moves the agency in a wrong direction, toward penalizing violators rather than working with contractors to prevent accidents from happening.

Kelly Knott of the Associated General Contractors, the industry’s major trade organization, said in an e-mail that her group focuses on preventing workplace accidents through training grants and encouragement, including annual worker safety awards.

“Protecting America’s Workers Act does not incorporate measures for preventing accidents and instead focuses on action following a tragedy,” she wrote.

Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi, a former business owner who is the ranking Republican on the Senate health and labor committee, thinks the Democratic-backed bill is “more punishment than prevention,” his spokesman said.

“Senator Enzi’s concern about this is not so much that he is against adjusting penalties and fines,” spokesman Craig Orfield said. “He wants to bring something to the table that’s going to encourage safer practices to prevent accidents in the first place.”

Enzi has introduced an alternative measure in past sessions of Congress and may do so again this year.

Although the political climate in Washington has shifted toward greater oversight by Congress of the administration in this and other areas, the Protect America’s Workers Act still faces a long road. No Republicans have signed on to support it.

One Republican committee aide said Republican leadership is committed to holding the line on pro-union bills and sees them as a way to define differences between the two parties in an election year.

Woolsey said part of her interest in pressing forward is to lay the groundwork for the next administration, which she thinks will be a Democratic one more willing to make reforms.

Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. Barack Obama is a strong supporter of the bill, saying OSHA has not been successful under the Bush administration, an Obama spokesman said. Obama thinks “OSHA must have the requisite authority to impose meaningful penalties for noncompliance, particularly in the case of serious, repeat, and egregious violations,” his spokesman wrote by e-mail.

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, Obama’s rival for the Democratic nomination, was an early backer of the bill and said in a campaign interview with a union that “too many workers are injured on the job and too few workers are protected by OSHA.”

Sen. John McCain’s voting record in the Senate has been less friendly to union-backed worker protection measures. His office said it would be unable to comment for this story.

On a related issue, Woolsey is behind a bill that passed the House last year requiring OSHA to issue new rules limiting worker exposure to diacetyl, a chemical used in food flavorings linked to severe lung disease known as “popcorn lung” because it first arose in workers at factories producing microwave popcorn.

That bill passed largely along party lines, although among Nevada representatives, Porter joined Berkley and other Democrats in voting for it. Heller voted against.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Our Canadian Friends are using Horse Sense, Too!

The item below that was posted in VOCM News. It seems like the Newfoundland Construction Safety Association is doing its job in promoting on the job safety awareness. This is just another story of success by companies using Horse Sense in carrying out safety awareness on construction jobs in their particular work projects.

I receive news items from many areas of the world showing that Safety on the Job is not just a great effort in the United States, but worldwide.

Industry Accidents Are Down

May 6, 2008

This is Occupational Health and Safety Week and the Construction Safety Association is delighted with the progress being made in cutting down on accidents in the industry. Jackie Manuel with the Newfoundland Labrador Construction Safety Association estimates that over the last five years, almost one thousand injuries have been prevented in their industry alone. Manuel says its great to see progress being made but there is still room for improvement. Meanwhile Weatherford in Paradise will hold a Health and Safety event on Thursday involving its employees, customers and industry member. Weatherford’s new manager in Newfoundland Aaron Dauphine, says it's a great opportunity to show its commitment to Occupational Health and Safety.
Weatherford has 25 employees in the province, and operate in more then 100 countries around the world for the off-shore oil industry with leading edge technology for drilling and other work.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Another Worker Injured in Trench Incident

According to local TV news, there was another trench collapse in Mobile today. It seems as the local Power Company was trenching to install an underground line to an apartment building. A worker was in the trench when the walls collapsed trapping the worker with dirt up to near his waist line.

The worker was dug out and sent to a local hospital and is "expected" to make a full recovery.

The general idea is that if a worker is trapped only up to their waist line, it is no big deal. WRONG! It is very common that the pressure to the lower body is such that blood can not circulate to the legs and feet, and victims experience heart attacks. This was not a very deep which gives many companies get lax on cave-in protection. Shallow trench wall collapses can easily cause severe injuries or a fatility.

More "Donkey" methods continue to be used in trenching work when it is so easy to use "Horse Sense" to provide adequate cave-in protection for workers in trenches.

When are trenching companies going to learn that cutting corners and being "Donkeys" DOES NOT PAY? It does not save money nor time, but costs in the lives of their workers, their Insurance premiums and puts them at risk of being put out of business.

OSHA officials and the company are investigating this incident.

Some "Donkey" Safety Items

"Does he have to have a special
License to drive this truck?

Sometimes, you really wonder why people don't just plain commit suicide by dreaming up to many ways to cause accidents. Here are a few pictures that I received via email showing how mind boggling people can be when trying to take short cuts:

"Is this a new OSHA ladder standard? " ^

<"OOPS! I shouldn't have parked on a slope!"

"I can throw a tree any way I want to!"

"Fill er up, Joe!"

"Is this the new Kabota portable Scaffold?"

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The article from Oshkosh Northwestern, WI, by Post Crescent business editor Larry Avila proves that there are construction contractors that take safety by the Horse Sense method.

Boldt Construction fits that bill and strives to keep their employees healthy and safe while working on their projects in the Wisconsin area. They are to be congratulated in their efforts to accomplish their lofty goal of "Zero Accidents" and "Safety; A Way of Life" initiative on their job sites.

Posted May 3, 2008

Boldt shoots for zero injuries

Safety first

Eighteen businesses across the state recently presented with Corporate Safety Awards by the Wisconsin Safety Council and Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Winners are selected based on injury incidence rates the past three years. A total of 142 businesses entered the competition. Three Fox Cities-based companies were among the honorees:

· The Boldt Co., Appleton

· Kimberly-Clark Corp. Neenah Nonwovens, Neenah

· Suburban Electric Engineers/Contractors, Appleton
Web site:

Construction firm lauded for keeping workers safe

By Larry Avila
Post-Crescent business editor

APPLETON — If there's a time to be perfect, it's exercising safety on a construction site.

This week, 18 Wisconsin businesses were selected from a pool of 142 entries from around the state and presented with Corporate Safety Awards from the Wisconsin Safety Council and state Department of Workforce Development.

Among the honorees was Boldt Co., the Appleton-based construction firm. Winners were selected based on injury incidence rates over a three-year period.

"It's a stringent process but the competition has grown every year because companies want to be recognized for safety," said Bryan Roessler, director of the Madison-based safety council. "Judges, including safety professionals and college professors, look over the entries and analyze the data to determine who were the best."

Though they would not disclose the final numbers, the Boldt Co. over the past 13 years has averaged an incidence rate of 70 percent below the national average in the construction industry, Roessler said.

"Construction sites can be very hazardous because conditions can change hourly," he said. "They are an unbelievably safe company."

However, it's not perfect, said Jeff Johnson, vice president of human resources and risk management at Boldt Co. Its latest award from the safety council is its sixth in the 14-year history of the program.

"We are very satisfied and appreciate the recognition and it does show we excel in areas of safety," Johnson said. "But, until we get to zero accidents, in my mind we're not there yet."

The Boldt Co. recently launched Safety: A Way of Life, an initiative with a goal of improving safety companywide. Boldt officials say that the company has between 200 and 300 projects going at any given time, spread across the country, involving hundreds of workers.

"Safety is everyone's responsibility," Johnson said. "It's a concern for the whole organization."

The initiative involves education, he said. Making sure job sites are provided with safety protocols and materials they need along with staff training.

Boldt employees average between 70 and 75 hours annually in safety training. The company also has 12 full-time safety professionals that travel to the company's various job sites.

To further enhance its safety measures, Boldt recently purchased equipment including aerial work platforms and specialized scaffolding to minimize fall exposure. The company also has been more diligent at inspecting and turning in damaged or broken tools.

Johnson said safety training is a continuous process.

"It really is about making sure everyone at all levels of the company are aware that safety is a priority to the company," he said

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mississippi is Using Horse Sense

The following article appeared in the Rankin Ledger (MS) on April 29, 2008. It was a Special to The Clinton News.

One Call Network' designed to avert accidents.'

Mississippi has taken a major step to increase public safety and decrease costs associated with construction project accidents by passing a law to expand the state's "One Call" network, officials with Atmos Energy said.

If the bill is approved by Gov. Haley Barbour, effective July 1, every private and public entity in the state that operates underground facilities will be required to join the Mississippi One Call Network.

"This law is good for the safety of our citizens and it makes good business sense as well," Sam Johnson, executive director of Mississippi One Call, said in a news release. "Now there is no excuse for not knowing where underground utilities are located in an area where anyone is digging. Just dial 811 and get the area marked."

The bill was passed overwhelmingly by the Legislature in April and Barbour has until mid-May to sign it. The governor has also declared May "Safe Digging Month in Mississippi."

"Each year, people are killed or injured and millions of dollars of property is damaged or destroyed nationwide because digging devices come into contact with gas, electric, water or other lines that are buried in the area where work is being done," Johnson said. "The strong support for this law shows that safety is a bipartisan issue."

Calling 8-1-1 before starting a project connects the person digging to the Mississippi One-Call System (MOCS), a computerized information center located in Jackson. MOCS then determines what entities - public and private - have underground utilities in the area. After MOCS contacts all of them, the individual companies send crews to mark their lines on the property, enabling the person or crew digging in an area to steer clear of underground pipes and wires.

"More and more states are considering laws similar to what we have just passed in Mississippi," said Johnson, "Until now, membership in Mississippi One Call was voluntary; meaning our records only reflected the companies and municipalities that participated."

The new law marks the first significant expansion of MOCS since the service was established 24 years ago. Many Mississipians are still not aware that by dialing 811 they can have homes, businesses or any construction area searched for underground lines before they dig.

"Dialing three digits is all they need to do to be sure," said Johnson. "It does not cost the person calling us - our members pick up the costs of the marking."

For companies such as Atmos Energy, which both operates underground gas lines and has crews that dig year-round, paying to be part of MOCS is money well-spent.

"Safety is our top priority and we believe One Call is the most important service to prevent injuries that happen when people accidentally hit utility lines of any kind," David Gates, president of Atmos Mississippi said in a news release. "Also, the costs associated with locating lines are minimal when you compare them with the costs associated with making emergency repairs to facilities that have been damaged."

For more in formation about the Mississippi One Call Network, go to