Category: Other Resources

Train Makes a Close Call With U.S. Senator’s Safety Speech

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U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal accidentally demonstrated a safety principal, stay behind marked barriers on the ground, when he set up a press conference – on safety – too close to an oncoming train.

Whether at the work site, commuting to work by public transportation, or conducting a press conference next to a speeding train, remember to follow all posted safety signs and barriers.

Understanding “Quarterly Updates”

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Quarterly Updates

Most third-party prequalification websites (ISN® * (via their ISNetworld® * database), PICS® , PEC Premier® , BROWZ, ComplyWorks®, Veriforce, Textura or Others.) revise their standard questionnaires fairly regularly. These are known as “updates”.  The frequency at which they happen are variable depending on the third-party auditor.  ISNetworld® is the largest third-party auditor, and we will be taking a look at what a quarterly update is and how it can affect your score.

What is a quarterly update?

At the end of each quarter, ISN® takes initiative and takes a couple days to revise their Management System Questionnaire™ (MSQ™) to ensure that it is up to date with the most current legislative requirements and other important information as requested by Owner Clients.  During this time, the MSQ™ will be inaccessible until the revisions have been made.  The table below details how the quarters are split up during the year.

Table 1

Quarter 1 January, February, March
Quarter 2 April, May, June
Quarter 3 July, August, September
Quarter 4 October, November, December

 

Multiple changes can happen during a quarterly update.  New questions may be added, obsolete questions removed, and new requirements may be populated.  With each quarterly update, every ISNetworld® account will have to answer statistical questions such as concerning the number of employees, hours worked, injuries, time away from work, and other important information for the past three months.  This can be expected and prepared for in advance – this will always be added during a quarterly update.

Note: Keeping track and utilizing this feature can make it much easier to document your OSHA 300/A Logs or statistics at the end of the year!  All of your statistical information will already be uploaded to your account – all you will have to do is add up the statistical information for each quarter and document them!

How can a “Quarterly Update” affect my grade?

After the quarterly update has been completed and the statistical information has been entered, there are a few different items that can affect your grade.  These may affect your grade in a positive or negative manner.

After your quarterly statistics are added in, the most crucial aspect is ensuring that you have a safe workplace.  New incidents and injuries will definitely hurt your Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) for the previous 3 years.  However, if you have had incidents and injuries in the past but have worked incident-free, your TRIR will naturally become lower.  Most, if not all, Owner Clients will take a very serious look at a contractor’s safe hours worked when considering them for a project.

New questions added to the MSQ™, depending on the Owner Client, may appear in your GAP report.  These should be addressed as soon as feasibly possible to ensure that your account does not fall into an unfavorable grading.  Keep a close eye on any additional questions!

RAVS® revisions commonly happen during quarterly updates as well – meaning you may have to revise existing policies and procedures or write new programs.  These have a major impact on most Owner Client’s grading scales.  Some Owner Clients may keep you off of a project until the new policies are written.  These should take a high priority on any contractor’s “to-do” list.

How can Safety Services Company help?

Safety Services Company can review every aspect of your company’s statistical information, safety program, EMR, TRIR, and information based on the answered questions of the MSQ™ and provide a Contractor Improvement Program tailored specifically to your organization.  These improvement programs don’t focus on problems, but instead identify effective solutions and assign responsible parties to ensure that they are upheld.

Additionally, Safety Services Company’s Global Compliance Solutions department offers a multitude of cost-effective solutions when dealing with the requirements of any third-party prequalification outfit.  Our staff can produce comprehensive and compliant safety programs, effective safety training material, and perform continual maintenance on your ISNetworld®, PEC®, PICS Auditing®, ComplyWorks®, CanQual®, and many other third-party prequalification accounts.  Why worry about your account and give yourself undue stress when your time can be better spent managing your business?

*Safety Services Company is an independently owned company, specializing in compliance with Third-Party Prequalification Providers such as ISNetworld®, PEC Premier®, PICS®, Complyworks® and Canqual®. Safety Services Company is in no way sponsored or affiliated with ISNetworld®, PEC Premier®, or PICS Auditing®. ISN®, ISNetworld®, RAVS®, SSQ®, PQF® are registered trademarks of ISN Software Corporation®, PEC Premier®, and PICS Auditing®.

Barbecue Safety

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Summertime is barbecue time, and having a cookout with friends is a summer tradition. Before you fire up that grill or smoker, here are some safety things to consider.

Basics
• Know your grill – Read the owner’s manual.
• Grills are for outside, only – Don’t barbecue in a trailer, tent, house, garage, or any enclosed area because carbon monoxide can kill you.
• Use in well-ventilated area – Set up your grill in an open area away from buildings, combustible surfaces, dry leaves, or brush. Avoid high traffic areas and be aware of wind-blown sparks.
• Keep your grill stable – make sure that all parts of the unit are in place and the grill can’t be tipped over.
• Use long-handled utensils (forks, tongs, etc.) to avoid burns and splatters.
• Don’t wear clothes that have hanging shirt tails, frills, or apron strings that can catch fire.
• Use flame-retardant mitts when adjusting hot vents.
• Keep fire under control – To put out flare-ups, raise the grid that the food is on, spread the coals out evenly, or adjust the controls to lower the temperature. If you need to douse the flames with a light spritz of water, take    the food off of the grill first.
• Be ready in case of fire – Use baking soda to control grease fires and have a fire extinguisher handy. A bucket of sand or a garden hose should be near if you don’t have a commercial extinguisher.
• Consider placing a grill pad or splatter mat under your grill – These will protect your deck or patio from any grease that misses the drip pan.
• Never leave a grill unattended once lit.
• Stay away from hot grill. – Don’t cook in an area where others are active. The grill body remains hot up to an hour after being used.
• Don’t move a hot grill – It’s easy to stumble or drop it and serious burns could result.

Gas Safety
Before you start using your gas grill, check it for gas leaks, hose deterioration, and burner obstructions. Use a soap and water solution to test for leaks. Clean your grill at least twice a year. The best times are at the start and end of your grilling season.
• Watch for rust
• If you refill your own tank, paint it to make it more rustproof
• When you buy or refill a cylinder, make sure you transport it in an upright position, and that it won’t shift or roll when you’re driving
• Once you’ve picked up a filled container, take it straight home. Don’t pick up a cylinder and then go shopping. If the outside temperature is in the
90’s, the inside of an enclosed car or trunk can reach 125 degrees in 20 minutes. Gas cylinders should never be stored in an area the reaches
over 120 degrees.
• Check the regulator, hoses, burner parts, and valve section to make sure there aren’t any
cracks or other damage
• Always turn off gas at the source, (tank or supply line), and make sure the grill is cooled
before inspecting any parts.
• Check owner’s manual for any additional maintenance requirements.

Personal Safety
• Never connect or disconnect a cylinder when the grill is on or is hot.
• Never use a cylinder if it shows signs of dents, gouges, bulges, fire damage, corrosion, leakage, or excessive rust.
• When lighting a gas grill, always keep the lid open to prevent a flash off from gas build-up.
• Do not lean over the grill when igniting the burners or cooking.
• If a burner doesn’t ignite, turn off the gas. Keep the grill lid open and wait five minutes before trying to light it again. If the burners go out during operation, turn all gas valves to OFF. Open the lid and wait five minutes before attempting to relight, using lighting instructions.

Charcoal
A charcoal briquette or wood burning grill or smoker can be lit using starter fluid, instant light briquettes, an electric starter, or metal chimney.

Starter fluid
When using starter fluid to light charcoal briquettes or wood chunks form a pyramid and douse with lighter fluid. Wait until fluid has soaked in before lighting.
• Cap lighter fluid immediately and place a safe distance from grill.
• Never add lighter fluid to coals that are already hot or warm.
• Never use gasoline, kerosene, or other highly volatile fluids as a starter. They can explode.

Instant light briquettes
If you use instant light briquettes to start your grill, don’t use them with any other type of starter. Don’t add more instant light briquettes once the fire has been started. Add only regular charcoal briquettes if you need more.

Electric starter
Never use an electric starter in the rain and/or when standing on wet ground. Unplug and remove a hot starter with caution and be careful where you put it. Always cool starter completely before storing.

Chimney type starter
A chimney starter is used by placing charcoal in the chimney so that they stack on top of the grate. Once the all of the charcoal is glowing red with an ash coating, dump the charcoal into the grill.

Disposal
One you’re done grilling, let the coals to burn out completely and let ashes cool at least 48 hours. Dispose of cold ashes by wrapping in heavy-duty aluminum foil and placing in non-combustible container. Be sure no other combustible materials are nearby. If you need to dispose of ashes before they’re completely cooled, place them in heavy-duty foil and soak with water completely before disposing in non-combustible container.

By taking a few simple precautions, you can be sure to have a safe grilling season, and that the only things that may get burned are your steaks.

Students Make Zombie Video to Promote Safety

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A high school film class from Oak Park High in Winnipeg, Manitoba recently won a Manitoba Safe Work video contest, and it is now competing to be the top Canadian video.

The group’s video is a zombie-themed public service announcement to spread the message about a worker’s right to refuse unsafe work.

“It’s a big issue,” said one of the film makers Cory Doctorow. “In Canada, in 2010, 1014 workplace deaths were recorded in Canada – that’s almost three deaths every day!”

A 2003 survey of occupational fatalities by nation revealed that Canada was the fifth most dangerous country with a fatality rate per 100,000 workers of 6.1.

The only nations to best Canada were Korea (29 deaths), Turkey (20.6 deaths), Mexico (12.0 deaths) and Portugal (8.7 deaths).

Canada, Alberta launch joint oil sands environmental monitoring portal

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As part of their efforts to share environmental monitoring data related to the development of bituminous sands in the region, the governments of Alberta and Canada launched a joint online information portal on Monday.

The site launch occurred on Earth Day, just before a letter from the US Environmental Protection Agency [PDF: 1.5 MB] undermined an earlier State Department Report that had supported construction of the controversial XL Keystone Pipeline, which could move up to 830,000 barrels of Alberta oil sands crude per day into and through the US.

In a press release, Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent and Alberta’s Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister Diana McQueen, lauded the potential of the interactive Web site to inform the public about the impacts of oil sands development on the natural environment.

“With this portal,” said Minister Kent, “our respective governments are actively encouraging informed discussions and analysis on the impacts of oil sands development based on high-quality scientific information.”

The environmental impact of oil sands development has driven controversy in both Canada and the US. In response, Canada and Alberta formed a joint oil sands monitoring effort, of which the data portal is a part. The $50 million per year joint data monitoring plan is partially funded by industry and aims to track and share information about air quality, water quality and wildlife changes over the more than 54,000 sq. mi. area of north and central Alberta around the “tar sands.”

(more…)

A Super Power Outage Plan

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Super Bowl 47 was full of bone crunching tackles, acrobatic catches and the unexpected.

In this instance the unexpected was not a controversial call at the end of the game, but a 30-minute power outage just after halftime. If a power outage can occur at arguably the largest spectacle of the year, then it can happen at your business also.

To ensure your company and its employees are protected in the event of an outage it is important your company develops and adopts an emergency plan.

This plan should

  • Detail the processes and equipment affected by a power outage: electrical equipment such as computers, security or alarm systems, elevators, as well as lighting, heating, ventilation.
  • Include an inventory of all equipment. This will detail the equipment that needs to be turned off during a power outage or reset after the power returns.
  • Set a time interval for backing up computers to prevent data loss.
  • Outline the use of surge protectors to safe guard sensitive electronic devices.
  • Outline a policy for testing battery systems, emergency lighting, phone, security and fire protection systems regularly.
  • Advise if a generator will be necessary in the company and outline the usage procedures of the generator.
  • Identify a person or team in charge of evacuating the building, contacting electricity department or handling other personnel issues.
  • List of emergency equipment and its location.
  • Lay out what emergency supplies need to be stocked, where they are located and a person in charging of maintaining them.
  • A plan to deal with customers who may be in the place of business during a blackout.
  • Provide safety training for generator use. Especially gas generators, which generate deadly CO2.

If you need help crafting an emergency action plan call 877-780-4106.

Employer Deadline to Publish Injury Summaries February 1

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All employers maintaining the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s 300 Logs for workplace injuries and illnesses pursuant to OSHA’s recordkeeping standard must post their 2012 annual summary by Feb. 1. Employers must utilize the annual summary form (form 300A) when complying with the posting requirements.

Does the Standard Apply to My Business?

All industries in agriculture, construction, manufacturing, transportation, utilities and wholesale trade sectors are covered. In the retail and service sec­tors, some industries are partially exempt. Also employers with fewer than 10 employees are exempt. The size exemption is based on the company’s peak employment during the last calendar year.

What Are the Posting Requirements?

The Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, OSHA Form 300A, must be completed by all employers who keep the 300 Log even if no injuries or illnesses occurred that year. It must be posted in a conspicuous location where notices to employees are customarily posted. It must be posted no later than February 1 and remain in place until April 30.

What am I required to report?

All employers covered by the OSH Act must orally report to OSHA the death of any employee from a work-related incident or the in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees as a result of a work-related incident within eight (8) hours.

How Can I Stay In Compliant With This Standard?

To help employers stay in compliance with their recordkeeping and reporting requirements we offer our OSHA Recordkeeping Center. The $140 center includes:

  • Posting Board 15-1/2″H x 14″W with clear pocket (#OR3000)
  • Binder & Holder Combo 12″H x 14″W x 4-1/2″D (#OR314E)
  • RecordKeeping Binder Only 1-1/2″ Diameter Rings (#OR323E)
  • Accident Sign 14″H x 10″W (#OR20410)
  • OSHA Info. “V” Sign 8″H x 15″W (#OR20330)
  • OSHA 300A Forms, package of 25 (#OR300A)
  • OSHA 300 Forms, package of 25 (#OR300E)
  • OSHA 301 Forms, package of 25 (#OR301E)

Call 877-780-4106 today for more information.

WILG president talks workplace injuries

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J.R. BoydWelcome to the first installment in the Safety Services Company Interview Series. This month we talk with J.R. Boyd, president of the Workers Injury Law and Advocacy Group.

What is the Workers Injury Law and Advocacy Group?

The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group is the national non-profit membership organization dedicated to representing the interests of millions of workers and their families who, each year, suffer the consequences of workplace injuries and illnesses.  The group acts principally to assist attorneys and non-profit groups in advocating the rights of injured workers through education, communication, research, and information gathering.   WILG is a network of like-minded advocates for workers’ rights, sharing information and knowledge, a sense of commitment and kinship, and networking to help each other and our clients.

WILG was founded in 1995 by a small group of  claimants’ attorneys and has grown into an organization of over 920 members representing every state in the nation.  Our members include sole practitioners, attorneys from multi-lawyer firms and paralegals.  WILG works everyday to make sure that as the challenges that face injured workers change, we evolve to meet those new challenges.  The Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group (www.wilg.org) has grown into an important, national voice for workers.  WILG’s members are committed to improving the quality of legal representation to those injured on the job or victims of occupational illness by superior legal education and by keeping informed of legislative and judicial proceedings.

How long have you been with the group?

I have been a sustaining member since1995, shortly after graduating from law school. My father, along with a group of other national claimant’s lawyers, helped to form the organization.

Why did you get involved in helping injured workers?

I had a very strong background and desire to help workers. From my years as a teenager I have seen firsthand how workers benefited from solid legal representation. It is personally rewarding to help a person receive a fair settlement for them and their family. In this line of work, you are helping a person and his/her family, not faceless corporations.

When should an employee report a workplace injury to their employer?

Missouri law requires that an injured worker provide a written report of a workplace injury within 30 days of the date of the accident.  Certain exceptions exist, depending upon the circumstances

As a general rule anytime you suffer an injury you should report it as soon as it happens. Occupational illnesses and diseases differ, in that the law has been interpreted by the courts to require that the injured worker file written notice of an injury once he/she is notified by a physician that they may be suffering from an occupational illness. Occupational illnesses and diseases sometimes do not manifest until years after exposure, as people may ignore the symptoms, and are unaware that they have sustained an illness . Whenever symptoms manifest an injured worker needs to see a doctor and file an injury report if the doctor believes the illness is work-related.

Why are people reluctant to report workplace injuries?

I would say the vast majority of my clients are very fearful of losing their jobs, even with a collective bargaining agreement in place.  Employers often view injured employees as damaged goods and feel that there is a pool of younger, hungrier people from which they can find a replacement for the injured workers’ job. However, people need to realize that having their health is much more important than having a job. You can always find another job. No employee should have to suffer in silence, for fear of losing their employment.

What are the major challenges facing injured workers?

One of the biggest hurdles facing injured workers are politicians and state legislatures that are constantly  tinkering with the workers’ compensation system, in a misguided attempt to make their respective state more “business friendly.” By both lowering and restricting benefits and excluding workers from the coverage provided by workers’ compensation laws, politicians have triggered the law of unintended consequences For example, in 2005, the Missouri Legislature enacted substantial changes and reforms to the workers’ compensation Act. The laws gutted many protections afforded by the existing system and excluded many workers and their injuries  from coverage. The unintended result was that injuries which were no longer covered by workers’ compensation, could now be adjudicated in a civil lawsuit.  These changes caused employers and their insurers (both liability and property/casualty) to start fighting with one another, because the employer was now exposed to even greater liability within the civil setting.    By trying to make the state more business friendly, the Legislature created even more uncertainty.

How is WILG addressing these challenges?

WILG has helped approximately 30 different states over the last 2 years with various battles. We provide up to date information on how worker’s compensation programs operate in other states. One of the common arguments you will hear politicians making, is that a neighboring state has a more “business friendly” environment than their own, because the neighboring state has a more restrictive workers’ compensation system, and therefore, has an advantage over the other.  This non-stop comparison has fueled the race to the bottom of the economic barrel with injured workers and their families wrongfully bearing that burden WILG is able to provide accurate and factually based information to state legislatures because we have studied these trends on a national level since 1995. WILG is able to identify these trends before local leaders have an idea what is getting ready to happen. In the early 1990’s WILG saw Oregon implement dramatic legislative changes that drove most claimant’s practitioners out of business. Texas also underwent dramatic changes in the 1990’s with the goal to restrict benefits to injured workers and to make it so difficult to obtain relief, that claimant’s lawyers could no longer afford to help the workers. Texas’ system is so restrictive, there are hardly any claimant’s workers’ compensation practitioners in the state, and as a result, the inured workers suffer.

What is a common fallacy about workplace injuries?

From my perspective, some of the most common fallacies are that an employee hurts themself for economic gain and that workers are committing fraud. I can tell you from personal experience that none of my clients ever wanted to be injured or be drawn into the workers’ compensation system. They are losing their livelihood because of injuries that are typically not through any fault of their own.  Personally, I would love it if I went out of business because there were no workplace injuries, but the reality is that injured workers need skilled legal help and will always have employers and insurers lined up and ready to deny their claim for any multitude of specious reasons. That is where WILG helps our nation’s workers.

We have several members who have committed themselves over the last few years to work on a fraud task force, so as to help dispel the common myths surrounding these  two fallacies. The result of this research was a white paper which demonstrated the overwhelming majority of fraud was committed by employers and their insurance companies. The most common type of fraud employers commit is the misclassification of their employees as independent contractors Employers engage in this deceptive practice in order to avoid withholding the typical taxes that are associated with a full-time employee.  This includes Social Security, FICA, state, county, and other municipal taxes.  By avoiding the payment of these monies to governmental entities through misclassification, states are losing tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars per year in revenue collections.  In fact, this issue was serious enough to force Gov. Bev Perdue of North Carolina to establish a “Task Force on Employee Misclassification”

That there are some injured workers who commit workers’ compensation fraud, is indeed accurate.  However, the data gathered by WILG and through help with various states around the country, has helped demonstrate that it is the employers and their insurers who are committing the most fraud within the workers’ compensation system.

What type of impact do injuries have upon employers?

Although I have no specific data available, I suspect that there are two primary impacts: (1) the loss of man hours and (2) the increased cost of insurance premiums. If a company’s workers sustain no  injuries during a typical year, their insurance rates are likely much lower than a similar company which has had its workers sustain 100 injuries. Also as you have more injuries to workers, the productivity levels decline and quotas are not met because you have a smaller workforce trying to achieve the same level of output.

What amount of injuries are preventable?

There is likely no way to measure this in any accurate manner.  However, one example of where an injury could have been prevented, involved injury to a client of mine while working at a local plant.  While helping train a newer worker on a press machine, a client had two fingers sheared off, because the trainee made the mistake of activating the machine while my client’s hand was in the machine.  OSHA investigated the incident and ruled that it could have been prevented.

What does someone need to do when injured at work?

Ideally, the injured worker should immediately notify his/her employer that they have sustained an injury—the sooner the better.  In Missouri, the worker is required to give written notification within 30 days of having sustained the accident.  They should then contact an attorney who is proficient in workers’ compensation, because the insurer and employer have already started to marshal their resources, including their own attorneys, claims agents, investigators, case nurse managers, etc.  An injured worker who is not familiar with the law, should not try and walk the legal minefield without someone who is there to protect their interests.  That’s where WILG’s lawyers play a role.

When does a victim of a workplace injury need to call a lawyer?

Any injured worker should consult a lawyer as soon as they suffer an injury. I think people realize a minor cut isn’t necessarily going to require an attorney. More often than not though, traps are set by workers’ compensation insurers to catch the unwary employee, such as giving recorded statements to claims adjusters that can later be used against them during a trial. As an injury victim you should provide no information until you contact an attorney.

For injured workers you should generally rely upon the advice of an attorney who is going to represent your interests. Don’t be lulled into believing that the workers’ compensation system is going to protect you and your family or treat you in a fair manner.  Injured workers should not be ashamed to ask for help when the need arises. This is a life changing event. Play it safe and protect you and your family.

How does someone get help from WILG?

One of the things people can do is search for an attorney on the web site by searching in a particular state. We have other information also available online and our staff is on hand to provide as much non-legal advice as the law permits.

Tell me about the most memorable case?

One of the best examples was a case I litigated in the late 90’s. A nurse was denied medical care for cervical spine injury she suffered after tripping over a box at work. She injured both her cervical and lumbar spine. The orthopedic doctor performed a mutli-level lumbar fusion, but when it came time to treat the cervical injury, the claims adjuster disputed the board certified orthopedic surgeon’s findings, and said it would not be considered work-related, and denied further medical care.

To get my client the treatment needed, we sought a hardship hearing in court against the hospital and its workers’ compensation insurer. I first took the deposition of the claims adjuster and secured several damning admissions from her. She was a high school gradate only, and believed she was in a more educated position to tell an orthopedic surgeon that his opinions were inaccurate.

When we finally went to trial, I had the claims adjuster on the witness stand and caught her in a lie. She said the company never authorized payment for any treatment on the cervical injury, but we had a medical billing receipt showing otherwise. This caused the adjuster to turn red and flustered.  At that point the compensation company’s attorney wanted to take a break. However, the judge allowed me to continue my questioning. By the end of my examination the witness was to the point of tears. The judge ultimately ruled the company had to pay out for my clients hardship, surgery and lawyers’ fees

Fake OSHA inspector faces 22 felonies

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A Mississippi woman accused of posing as an OSHA trainer to deliver fraudulent training after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill is being indicted on 22-felony counts.

46 year-old Connie M. Knight allegedly used false credentials to con more than 1,000 fishermen out of $100 to $300 each. The fisherman believed they were paying for a training class that would allow them to get jobs helping clean up the oil spill.

Knight’s false credentials identified here as a “Master Level V Inspector and Instructor” from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and told people she was the agency’s highest-ranking female trainer, according to the indictment.

According to the indictment Knight used the false credentials to primarily target members of the Southeast Asian communities in Southern Louisiana, many of whom neither read nor spoke English proficiently.

In addition to creating false identification and credentials for herself Knight is charged with creating four additional OSHA identification badges for Louisiana residents she hired as employees.

The charges of producing and transferring fraudulent federal identification documents each carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.   The charge of possessing a fraudulent federal identification document carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of $5,000.   The 19 counts of falsely impersonating a federal employee each carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

This case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division, with assistance from OSHA, the FBI, and investigators from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s office.

Worker Hydration Key to Preventing Heat-related Illness

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As summer draws to a close, employers should remain aware of heat-related hazards workers, especially outdoor workers, still face. Employers also need to know and share how to prevent illness or injury.

Heat-related illness occurs because of the body’s inability to self-regulate its temperature.

The body’s best tool to keep itself from getting too hot is sweat. As sweat evaporates from the skin, it cools, drawing heat from the body and dissipating it. The body must be hydrated to produce sweat. Therefore, a dehydrated worker faces more risk from workplace heat.

However, especially in hot summer months, it may be difficult for some workers to drink enough water while working to sweat enough. If a worker is unable to replace the water he or she loses to evaporation, the worker may become dehydrated, and sweating may become impossible. This will increase the body temperature. As body temperature reaches higher, heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion become increasingly likely.

If a worker takes in less water than he or she loses to sweat, breathing, urination and defecation, the worker’s body will become dehydrated. Generally, the body does a good job of keeping fluid levels about right by signaling thirst as needed. However, work often puts demands on the body that make adequate hydration difficult.

Many people go about their lives in a state of slight dehydration. There is no cheap and convenient way for employers to measure worker hydration, but workers themselves can be aware of a few factors other than thirst that point to the need for more water: Taking in fluids only when thirsty is rarely sufficient. Further, when the body doesn’t receive enough water, urine becomes more dense and darker in color. Frequent headaches, dry skin and fatigue also point to low body fluid levels, especially when accompanied by thirst, or experienced after strenuous work  and exercise also may indicate dehydration.

While the body can have too much water when electrolyte levels get unbalanced or in the presence of certain medical conditions, most people should be drinking more water.

One of the most effective means to ensure appropriate water intake is eating and drinking during meal breaks. Most fluid ingestion occurs with meals, which is also when the body takes in most of the electrolytes it needs. Skipping a meal not only deprives the worker’s body of the calories it needs, it also deprives the body of fluids to keep itself cool.

Of course, meals alone will not provide enough water. Safety and health organizations recommend workers who face a risk of heat-related illness to drink small amounts of cool, non-alcoholic, liquids frequently — one cup every 20 minutes. However, it is important to recognize that broad guidelines do not necessarily reflect the needs of all workers for all jobs in all environments.

In addition to easy access to clean water, employers should provide rest breaks and bathroom facilities to accommodate fluid intake (and subsequent removal) by workers, and workers should not hesitate to take short water breaks throughout the day to maintain hydration.

Dehydration is the first step to more severe heat related illness. Strenuous labor in hot and/or exceptionally humid environments increases the body’s temperature and its demand for fluids. Employers and workers must plan together to guarantee the body has the fluids it needs to function effectively and stay healthy until the job is done.


  The Three B’s of Worker Hydration:

  1. Beverages:  Workers should be provided with sufficient non-alcoholic fluids, ideally water, and clean cups.
  2. Breaks:  Workers should be permitted the time needed to drink enough fluids through the day.
  3. Bathrooms:  Workers need access to sanitary bathroom facilities.