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Workplace Fatality Leads to Citations, Stresses Need for Improved Safety

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March 12, 2014

On-the-job accidents, injuries and illnesses can lead to a number of complications, including a lack of quality employees and rising costs for the business itself. While most employers understand the key steps behind workplace safety and a risk management plan, in some cases not enough is being done to ensure the well-being of each staff member. 

This can also result in higher workers compensation insurance costs, especially for high-risk industries such as health care, construction and manufacturing. In addition, fines and citations could also come down from both the state and federal segments of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

This was recently the case for one Florida manufacturing firm, which was cited for numerous violations that directly led to the death of one of its workers in August 2013. This specific case highlights the need for better working conditions and more involved employees, in order to prevent similar accidents from happening again.

Wire Mesh Sales LLC cited for workplace violations
In August 2013, one machine helper was killed while working near a wire mesh manufacturing machine at the worksite of Florida-based manufacturer Wire Mesh Sales LLC, according to OSHA. The cause of the accident was found to be directly related to improper machine operation and employee oversight.

"This was a preventable and senseless tragedy," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. "When employers are serious about safety, everyone benefits. Wire Mesh Sales LLC failed to properly implement OSHA safety regulations, and a worker paid the ultimate price."

Following the accident, OSHA cited the company for eight per-instance willful violations, totaling more than $697,000. At the site four machines were found to be in dangerous condition, because employees failed to follow proper protocols to protect workers when operating nearby. Overall, 56 staff members were in serious danger of injury or death due to these errors. 

It appeared that the biggest problem at the Wire Mesh Sales LLC facility was a disregard for safety procedures. A number of employees knowingly ignored legal requirements, with a lack of respect for both safety and health in the workplace.

Culture vital for a safe environment
While a sound training program and risk management plan are important for workplace safety, there is more to it to ensure a lack of accidents and lower workers comp insurance costs. For instance, the right culture has to be in place, so all workers take these elements seriously. 

According to BedTimes Magazine, this can be achieved by instilling a sense of community and respect from the top of the organization down. Executives have to demonstrate that they are committed to safety, and that will then inspire others to take a similar approach. 

"You'll want to put your safety programs in writing and support and enforce them at every level," Thomas Schneid, professor and director of Eastern Kentucky University's online and on-campus graduate program in safety, security and emergency management, told the news source. "You need to go far above OSHA standards if you want to reduce injuries, create a better workplace and increase your profitability."

There are several strategies that a company can employ to help make the workplace safer. For example, current employees could partake in educational programs to become more aware of safety procedures. This will then place an expert on the facility floor, allowing other workers a resource for any questions and concerns. Better yet, firms will work with outside professionals, such as an insurance agency or a consultant, to always stay up-to-date with changing regulations and other shifts within the industry. 

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