February 12, 2013

"A worker's first day at work shouldn't be his last day on earth"

Temporary worker Lawrence Daquan Davis was 21 years old - just a few months over the legal drinking age in Florida when he began working at the Bacardi Rum bottling plant in Jacksonville. Sadly, he had a very short career. It began on August 16, 2012 and ended shortly before 5 pm on the same day after he was crushed and killed by a palletizer machine. Davis was an employee of Remedy Intelligent Staffing, a temporary staffing agency that was contracted by Bacardi Bottling.

According to OSHA, which issued $192,000 in penalties to Bacardi this week for a dozen willful and serious violations, the company had failed to train temporary employees on lockout-tagout procedures and failed to ensure its own employees used such procedures. Lockout-tagout is an industry standard designed to ensure that dangerous machines are properly shut off during maintenance so they can't be started up until completion. There's a locking device that renders the machine inoperable, and a tag to alert others that the machine is shut shut down.

In speaking of this death, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels issued the phrase that is the title of our post. He also said:

"We are seeing untrained workers - many of them temporary workers - killed very soon after starting a new job. This must stop," said Michaels. "Employers must train all employees, including temporary workers, on the hazards specific to that workplace - before they start working. Had Bacardi done so, this tragic loss of life could have been prevented."

The Texas Mutual Insurance Company Blog has a post about The ABCs of New Employee Safety. The post offers some good tips on tips on safety education for new employees, along with these statistics about the high rate of injuries to new workers:

"Approximately 27 percent of job-related fatalities involve employees who have been on a new job for less than 90 days, according to a recent Texas Mutual claim analysis. Similarly, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Office of Statistics says 40 percent of employees injured at work have been on the job less than one year. New employees need to be made aware of how serious safety training is from their first day at a new job."

New workers - particularly young workers - are often inexperienced and unaware of the hazards in a new workplace. They are also often eager to please, to keep the job. We've written about the importance of training and safeguarding young workers many times.

The on-the-job death of a young worker is a terrible way for a company to "get religion" about safety.

OSHA's Lockout-Tagout Interactive Training

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Julie Ferguson published on February 12, 2013 4:38 PM.

Policy Wonks, Lend Me Your Ears! was the previous entry in this blog.

Health Wonk Review, Office Romance, Old at 35, RTW and more is the next entry in this blog.

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