Colorado workers in the scrap recycling industry may find comfort in learning that there a cooperative effort involving the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries promotes improved safety. Workers' rights include the right to work environments that are free of known hazards. Nevertheless, the number of workplace accidents within this industry seems to indicate that some employers have little regard for worker safety.
Compliance with federal safety regulations seems to be a nationwide problem. Some company owners in Colorado and elsewhere put worker safety second to company profits. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently expressed its disappointment in a lumber company in another state after learning of an unreported May incident in which a worker was injured at work in similar circumstances that led to citations only three months prior.
Willfully exposing workers to life-threatening hazards in the workplace is unacceptable. Nevertheless, many companies in Colorado and other states continue to disregard basic health and safety procedures. When employers allow the lives of workers to be put on the line, even after injured workers have lost their lives, it is clear that their priorities lie elsewhere.
Colorado employees of companies involved in electroplating are exposed to life-threatening hazards. The Chemical process involves extremely hazardous chemicals, including lead and cadmium. In connection with one of its recent inspections, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently noted that, sadly, some employers disregard their workers' rights to safe environments by repeatedly violating safety regulations.
Colorado workers at fracking sites are exposed to a disease that dates back to ancient times and one that remains a severe threat. The danger is in the silica particles -- often too small for the eye to see -- that are contained in the sand that is used in the fracking process. After a 2012 study, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) alerted the industry of the potential danger which can cause lung cancer in injured workers.
Companies nationwide, including those in Colorado, are allowed to hire workers from foreign countries on a temporary basis. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued two affiliated companies in another state and its owner with penalties of $1,792,000. This followed a conclusion that foreign workers were exploited and exposed to life-threatening asbestos hazards while their workers' rights were being violated. OSHA also put one of the two companies in its program for severe violators.
Employees who work in the social services sector in Colorado and other states are sometimes exposed to the violent behavior of the individuals they are trying to help. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently cited an organization in another state for failure to protect its workers against violence. Every worker has the right to a safe working environment, and known hazards must be addressed to avoid employees from being injured at work.
Companies nationwide, including in Colorado, that are put on the Occupational Health and Safety Administration's severe violators enforcement program will be subjected to follow-up inspections to determine compliance with safety regulations. OSHA recently added DuPont -- the chemical company giant that touts its safety program as world class -- to its list of severe violators. This follows the death of four workers at a DuPont plant in another state where a massive gas leak occurred last November. By its action, OSHA has made it clear that such disregard of workers' rights is inexcusable.
As we have noted multiple times on this blog, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is one of the biggest allies workers have in ensuring that they remain safe on the job. However, this agency can only remain as effective as it’s allowed to be.
As we covered in a recent blog post, safety training is often one of the most critical components in creating a healthy work environment. In addition to providing a safe physical environment and safety equipment, employees may need clear direction as to how they can operate safely within their job role.