South Dakota Wheat Growers Assoc. Fined $1.6M After Fatality

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined the South Dakota Wheat Growers Association of Aberdeen, S.D., more than $1.6 million following the Dec. 22, 2009, death of a worker at the company’s McLaughlin, S.D., grain handling operation.

The worker suffocated after being engulfed by grain in one of the facility’s bins. OSHA’s investigation found that five additional workers were also at risk of being engulfed when they were sent into the bin to dig the victim out.

OSHA proposed $1,610,000 in fines for 23 alleged willful violations of the grain handling and confined space standards, including:     
    - Failing to prohibit workers from walking on top of clumped grain;
    - Failing to prohibit entry into the grain bins where the buildup of grain existed;
    - Failing to shut off and lock out equipment to prevent grain from moving through the bin while workers were inside;
    - Failing to equip workers with grain engulfment protection;
    - Failing to provide observers equipped to provide assistance;
    - Failing to train workers;
    - Failing to issue permits to control entry into grain bins;
    - Failing to test the atmosphere;
    - A lack of rescue equipment;
    - And failing to implement an emergency action plan prior to entry.

The death in South Dakota follows a similar May 2009 death of a 17-year old employee of Tempel Grain LLP in Haswell, CO. That worker also suffocated after being engulfed by grain. OSHA issued $1,592,500 in fines for 22 alleged willful and 13 alleged serious violations in that case.

OSHA has implemented a regional emphasis inspection program in the grain handling industry to address the serious hazards associated with grain bins and confined spaces, and operators and industry associations have been sent letters announcing the program. OSHA’s area offices covering Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota are also providing assistance to help grain storage facilities comply with safety standards.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of all OSHA citations to pay the penalties, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Source: OSHA
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Field Work Essential in Trench and Structural Collapse Rescue

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Extensive field exercises are considered necessary to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct basic trench rescue operations. An overview of OSHA regulations for Excavations/Trenching should always include: shoring systems; hazard recognition and control methods; soil classification and mechanics; types of collapses; and patient care considerations.

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OSHA Steps Up Enforcement

Monday, May 10, 2010

To address urgent safety and health problems facing Americans in the workplace, OSHA is implementing a new Severe Violator Enforcement Program and increasing civil penalty amounts. Announced in an April 22 news release, the SVEP, which will go into effect by the beginning of June, is intended to focus OSHA enforcement resources on employers who endanger workers by repeatedly demonstrating indifference to their responsibilities under the law.

This supplemental enforcement tool includes increased OSHA inspections in these worksites, mandatory OSHA follow-up inspections, and inspections of other worksites of the same employer where similar hazards and deficiencies may be present.

For more information, see the SVEP Directive. Several administrative changes to the penalty calculation system in OSHA’s Field Operations Manual will also become effective in the next several months. The penalty changes will increase the overall dollar amount of all penalties while maintaining OSHA’s policy of reducing penalties for small employers and those acting in good faith.
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Study Proves Four-person Fire Crews Faster

Monday, May 10, 2010

The first study to quantify the effects of crew sizes and arrival times on lifesaving and firefighting operations…

The International Association of Fire Chiefs and the International Association of Fire Fighters hailed a major study released April 28 that showed four-person firefighting crews completed 22 key tasks at a single-family residential fire 30 percent faster than two-person crews and 25 percent faster than three-person crews.

The study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a Commerce Department agency, indicated four-person crews put water on the fire faster, completed laddering and ventilation faster, and finished a primary search and rescue of a non-ambulatory person from an upstairs bedroom faster. “The results from this rigorous scientific study on the most common and deadly fires in the country –- those in single-family residences -– provide quantitative data to fire chiefs and public officials responsible for determining safe staffing levels, station locations, and appropriate funding for community and fire fighter safety,” Harold A. Schaitberger, IAFF’s general president, wrote on the union’s Frontline blog. “This study comes at a crucial time for the fire service. Public officials considering resource cuts cannot ignore the results of this unbiased study,” he added.

“Fire risks grow exponentially. Each minute of delay is critical to the safety of the occupants and firefighters and is directly related to property damage,” said Jason Averill, a principal investigator on the study who leads NIST’s Engineered Fire Safety Group within its Building and Fire Research Laboratory.

Reprinted from: Occupational Health & Safety
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Dennis O’Connell, Director of Training/Chief Instructor

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Dennis O’Connell, Director of Training/Chief InstructorSince 1989, Dennis O’Connell has been a technical rescue consultant and professional instructor for Roco. In 2002, he joined the company full-time and is now the Director of Training and a Chief Instructor.

As Director of Training, O’Connell heads up Roco’s technical rescue programs and is responsible for curriculum development, instructor training and much more. As a Chief Instructor, he teaches Confined Space, High Angle, Trench, Structural Collapse, and Instructor Development courses. “Training-the-trainer” is one of the many skills O’Connell cultivated during his 20-year tenure with the New York Police Department (NYPD).

Sgt. O’Connell received 14 commendations and citations as a career officer and was selected to serve on the NYPD Emergency Services Unit (ESU) for 17 years. Besides responding to over 100,000 assignments each year, this elite group served as a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit for America’s iconic city–responding to high-risk situations and providing rescue operations for transportation accidents, building collapses, hazardous materials incidents, water rescue, confined space and high-angle incidents, helicopter operations (high-rise Medevac), and disorder control.

As a member of ESU, he was extensively involved in rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center from Day One. As a hand-selected member of FEMA’s New York Task Force #1, Sgt. O’Connell responded to major disasters in Oklahoma City, Atlanta, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. With his broad teaching experience and expertise in real-world rescue, O’Connell is a man others want to learn from.

Dennis O’Connell, Director of Training/Chief InstructorHis inspiration for becoming a rescue professional?
As a young man, O’Connell was involved in an automobile crash with fatal injuries to one of his best friends. At that moment, he vowed to learn the proper techniques of lifesaving, rescue, and emergency response. Mission accomplished.

His best advice for the novice?
Know your equipment like the back of your hand… literally. You have to protect yourself before you can help others.

What does he do for fun?
Almost anything that presents a challenge! Here we see him sporting ‘Cajun Reeboks’ for a little recreational trip down the bayou. Only the best equipment for the job will do for Dennis!
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