Safety Stand-Down Events Aim to Improve Worker Safety

April 17, 2017

Fatalities among workers in the landscaping industry are a growing concern in the Southeast. From 2012 to 2016, 64 people employed in the industry in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi died as a result of workplace injuries. In Florida, industry fatalities have nearly tripled since 2012.

To stem the tide, OSHA, industry associations, and employers are banding together to sponsor a one-hour Safety Stand-Down in April to focus and educate workers about industry hazards which most commonly cause injury or death. The events will be held at worksites throughout the region on either April 17 or 18, from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. EDT.

At the Safety Stand-Downs, employers will stop work voluntarily and conduct safety training on injury prevention with workers at risk of falls and being crushed or hit by objects—two leading causes of industry deaths. They will also focus on electrical hazards, another common injury risk.

"We are confident that, with the proper knowledge, workers can avoid unnecessary injuries or worse, and return home at the end of each work day. Failing to develop, implement and maintain an effective safety and health program puts workers at risk of being injured on the job," said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA's regional administrator for the Southeast.

The Associated General Contractors of Georgia Inc., OSHA and employers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi are organizing the effort.

Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with groups committed to worker safety and health to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. Training materials are available in English and Spanish here. For more information, contact Billie Kizer, assistant regional administrator for enforcement programs at 678-237-0400, or your local OSHA Area Office.

Charlotte RCRA and DOT Update and SARA Training

Register for RCRA Hazardous Waste and DOT Hazardous Materials Update and Refresher Training in Charlotte, NC, on May 3 and get your RCRA and DOT refresher training in one day. Ensure that your reporting requirements are met at the SARA Title III (EPCRA) Workshop on May 4. To register for these courses, click here or call 800-537-2372.

St. Louis RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in St. Louis, MO, on May 9–11 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Hilton Head RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Hilton Head, SC, on May 23–25 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Maximum Allowable Oral Dose Level for Ethylene Glycol Amended

On April 4, 2017, California’s Office of Administrative Law approved an amendment of Title 27, California Code of Regulations, section 25805, Maximum Allowable Dose Level (MADL) for ethylene glycol (ingested). The regulation will be effective on July 1, 2017. This rule establishes a MADL of 8,700 (oral) micrograms per day for ethylene glycol (ingested).

If you have questions regarding this rule, contact Esther Barajas-Ochoa, at or 916-322-2068.

Lack of Safety Training Led to Fatal Trench Collapse

Robert Higgins and Kelvin Mattocks died on October 21, 2016, in Boston, when the approximately 12-foot deep trench in which they were working collapsed, breaking an adjacent fire hydrant supply line and filling the trench with water in a matter of seconds.

An investigation by OSHA found that their employer, Atlantic Drain Service Co., Inc., failed to provide basic safeguards against collapse and did not train its employees—including Higgins and Mattocks—to recognize and avoid cave-in and other hazards.

"The deaths of these two men could have and should have been prevented. Their employer, which previously had been cited by OSHA for the same hazardous conditions, knew what safeguards were needed to protect its employees but chose to ignore that responsibility," said Galen Blanton, OSHA's New England regional administrator.

OSHA's inspection determined that Atlantic Drain and owner Kevin Otto, who oversaw the work on the day of the fatalities, did not:

  • Install a support system to protect employees in an approximately 12-foot deep trench from a cave-in and prevent the adjacent fire hydrant from collapsing
  • Remove employees from the hazardous conditions in the trench
  • Train the workers in how to identify and address hazards associated with trenching and excavation work
  • Provide a ladder at all times so employees could exit the trench
  • Support structures next to the trench that posed overhead hazards
  • Provide employees with hardhats and eye protection

As a result, OSHA has cited Atlantic Drain for a total of 18 willful, repeat, serious, and other-than-serious violations of workplace safety standards and is proposing $1,475,813 in penalties for those violations. OSHA cited Atlantic Drain trenching worksites for similar hazards in 2007 and 2012.

In February, a Suffolk County grand jury indicted Atlantic Drain and company owner, Kevin Otto, on two counts each of manslaughter and other charges in connection with the deaths. OSHA and the department's Regional Office of the Solicitor worked with the department's Office of the Inspector General, the Boston Police Department's Homicide Unit and the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office during the course of this investigation.

The walls of an unprotected trench can collapse suddenly and with great force, trapping and engulfing workers before they have a chance to react or escape. Protection against cave-in hazards may be provided through shoring of the trench walls, sloping the soil, or by using a protective trench box. Employers must ensure that workers enter trenches only after adequate protections are in place to address cave-in hazards.

"We want to emphasize to all employers that trenching hazards can have catastrophic consequences if they are not addressed effectively before employees enter a trench," said Blanton.

Cintas First Aid and Safety Facility in Evansville Earns STAR Certification

Cintas Corporation Location 383 First Aid & Safety Division of Evansville, Indiana, achieved STAR certification in the Indiana Voluntary Protection Program, the state’s elite program for workplace safety and health excellence.

Cintas Corporation Location 383 (Central Region) employs 24 workers, including 16 drivers, who sell and service first aid and safety supplies for businesses in southern Indiana and areas in Kentucky and Illinois.

“The Indiana Department of Labor is very thankful for the commitment and culture of workplace safety and health displayed by the Cintas Corporation,” said Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Rick J. Ruble. “Cintas continues to expand that culture and reach beyond the OSHA standards to protect their employees. Our agency is proud to award the STAR title to Cintas’s Evansville location.”

With the addition of Location 383, 45 of Cintas’s 54 first aid and safety facilities hold VPP STAR certification. Of the facility’s three-year average, Location 383 achieved an impressive 0% total case incidence rate (TCIR), surpassing the national industry average TCIR of 1.5 for the same three-year average.

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