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Disregard of regulations often leads to occupational injuries

According to the strict safety regulations as prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, company owners in Colorado and other states have to comply with control standards. Lockout/tagout procedures to prevent occupational injuries when workers are servicing or maintaining equipment and machinery have to meet the required standards. The release of hazardous energy during these activities may have catastrophic consequences, such as electrocution, amputations and even death.

OSHA recently issued citations to a steel company in another state for one willful and seven serious safety violations. This followed an incident that took the lives of two workers and caused a third worker to suffer severe burn injuries. OSHA determined that the workers were instructed by company managers to repair a faulty valve on an operating furnace. The furnace contained hydrated lime and oxygen when the workers were working on it. Because the energy supply was not locked out, opening the high-pressure valve caused the furnace to erupt.

Three workers suffered critical injuries, and two of them died at the hospital. OSHA reported that the company has been the subject of inspections and citations on 14 previous occasions. Due to the company's apparent indifference to the safety of its workers, OSHA proposed the inclusion of the company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA expressed its concern over the prevalence of companies disregarding worker safety in favor of maintaining production and high profits. This attitude often leads to families of workers having to cope with occupational injuries and fatalities. Fortunately, the Colorado workers' compensation insurance fund aims to assist such families by providing benefits to cover medical and/or end-of-life expenses, along with a portion of lost income.

Source: safety.blr.com, "Choice to focus on productivity over safety proves fatal", April 7, 2015

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