Following up on our Nov. 19, 2014 post about a fracking site blast ("1 killed, 2 injured at work in Colorado fracking accident," OSHA's investigation is complete. The company was issued with a $7,000 fine. The deadly accident occurred in last November when workers attempted to heat a frozen pipe that had formed an ice blockage. A 36-year-old worker lost his life, and two others -- ages 48 and 28 -- each suffered an on-the-job injury.
Workers at drill sites in Colorado and other states are typically exposed to multiple safety hazards. They are particularly vulnerable when their employers and supervisors disregard safety regulations. Such negligence can lead to a workplace injury that could be fatal.
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.
A recent fatality on a film set shows that workers in all industries face hazardous situations on a daily basis. Colorado residents may be familiar with "Cops," the reality TV show that has been portraying law enforcement as it happens since 1989. The production company responsible for filming these dangerous scenes may not be doing enough to protect the crew members against harm, and -- as in this case -- a fatal workplace injury. Upon completion of an accident investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration instructed the production company to implement proper training and improved safety procedures while filming.
Colorado workers who are tasked with equipment maintenance should not be exposed to known safety hazards. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes safety regulations for such activities. When these rules are disregarded, the potential for a workplace injury may increase.
Colorado workers who perform their duties at or in the vicinity of mechanical handling equipment such as conveyor belts may not be adequately informed about the safety hazards to which they are exposed. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes that employers are responsible for informing workers of potential workplace injury hazards. In addition, full compliance is required by safety guidelines relating to worker protection in the form of lockouts or tagouts, signals, signs and machine guarding.
A serious workplace injury or fatality that can occur from a negligent safety violation can create serious consequences for a victim and the employer. A Colorado worker that does suffer a workplace injury may question the safety standards surrounding their position and how that may have contributed to their physical damages. A roofing company was recently fined $162,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failure to provide proper safety and protection to employees.
Working in an environment with life-threatening danger can often require proper training and a defined plan in case of an emergency. The Colorado Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently made the decision to cite a Colorado ski resort $14,000 for its involvement in a potentially preventable accident that resulted in an employee's death. The patroller lost his life outside of the ski resort when a routine avalanche training accident resulted and apparently caused his fatal physical injury.
The Chemical Safety Board evaluates other agencies' safety regulations regarding chemical hazards and makes recommendations for change. The chairman of that board has initiated a stepped-up effort to influence federal regulators to establish a nationwide set of standards to protect workers nationwide, including in Colorado, from combustible dust hazards. From 2008 to 2012, the board reports that there were 29 deaths and 161 incidents of workplace injury from combustible dust accidents.
A safety issue that raises serious concerns in some industries in Colorado and nationally is called machine guarding. It’s important that employees who work on dangerous machines be protected from the gruesome injuries that can be caused. According to OSHA, workers who operate and take care of machinery suffer over 800 deaths and 18,000 amputations per year. Amputations are a particularly costly workplace injury, with nightmarish consequences for the worker.