BOSS WATCH: 6/27 - 7/5
Updated On: Jul 09, 2024


By JACOB MORRISON | July 8, 2024


Illegal activities of Southern Bosses for the weeks between Friday, June 27, and Friday, July 5


—FLORIDA KILLERS—

A federal workplace safety investigation found a Florida labor contractor could have prevented the fatal illness of a 41-year-old worker who collapsed while harvesting oranges at Alico Farms in December 2023 by taking required steps to protect employees from hazards associated with high temperatures. 

Inspectors with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration learned the worker employed by Guerero Ag LLC had difficulty talking and appeared disoriented before becoming unresponsive and collapsing — symptoms consistent with a person suffering from heat stroke. Sadly, the worker died three days later in intensive care. OSHA determined the heat index reached approximately 92 degrees the day of the incident.

OSHA cited Guerrero Ag for two serious violations for exposing workers to hazards associated with high ambient heat, on three separate days, and not providing first-aid training to employees working in an area without an infirmary, clinic or hospital. The agency also cited the Arcadia-based labor contractor for failing to report a work-related hospitalization within 24 hours, and subsequently the fatality within 8 hours, as required by law. Guerero Ag LLC faces $30,651 in proposed penalties.

In September 2021, the department announced enhanced and expanded measures to protect workers from the hazards of extreme heat

OSHA has developed a potential standard for workplaces to prevent heat illness and injury in work environments in general industry, construction, maritime and agriculture. The agency also took an important step in addressing the dangers of workplace heat and moved closer to publishing a proposed rule to reduce the significant health risks of heat exposure for U.S. workers in outdoor and indoor settings. 

In April 2023, OSHA presented the draft rule’s initial regulatory framework to the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health. The committee unanimously recommended OSHA move forward swiftly on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The initial regulatory framework materials from the meeting are available in a docket on regulations.gov. Updates on the rulemaking process will be provided on OSHA’s heat rulemaking web page. OSHA concluded the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act process on Nov. 3, 2023. On June 11, 2024, the agency submitted its draft standard on heat injury and illness prevention to the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of the Information and Regulatory Affairs for review.

Meanwhile, OSHA will continue to conduct heat-related inspections under the agency’s National Emphasis Program – Outdoor and Indoor Heat-Related Hazards, focusing enforcement on workplaces with the highest exposures to heat-related hazards proactively to prevent workers from needless suffering injury, illnesses, or death. Since the launch in 2022, OSHA has conducted nearly 5,000 federal heat-related inspections.

OSHA continues to direct significant existing outreach and enforcement resources to educate employers and workers and hold businesses accountable for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause and other applicable regulations. 

In addition, OSHA will prioritize programmed inspections in agricultural industries that employ temporary, nonimmigrant H-2A workers for seasonal labor. These workers face unique vulnerabilities, including potential language barriers, less control over their living and working conditions, and possible lack of acclimatization, and are at high risk of hazardous heat exposure.

—MINER DANGERS—

The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that its Mine Safety and Health Administration completed impact inspections in May 2024 at 15 mines in 12 states, leading the agency to cite 300 violations and one safeguard.

MSHA’s impact inspections since 2023 have identified 3,880 violations, including 1,088 significant and substantial violations and 68 unwarrantable failure findings. An S&S violation is one that could contribute in a significant and substantial way to the cause and effect of a safety or health hazard. Violations designated as unwarrantable failures occur when an inspector finds aggravated conduct that constitutes more than ordinary negligence.

The agency conducts impact inspections at mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to poor compliance history; previous accidents, injuries, and illnesses; and other compliance concerns. Of the 300 violations MSHA identified in May 2024, 62 were evaluated as S&S and five had unwarrantable failure findings. The agency completed these inspections at mines in Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

—GEORGIA KILLERS—

A five-man crew’s first day working to remove tar and stone from metal roof panels at a Macon warehouse ended abruptly in November 2023 when a 54-year-old laborer tragically suffered fatal injuries after stepping on a skylight and falling about 19 feet.

A U.S. Department of Labor investigation found Georgia construction contractor could have prevented by providing their employees with required fall protection.

Investigators with the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined the employee of NOR-D LLC in Johns Creek stepped on the skylight after dumping debris off the warehouse’s roof. An ambulance rushed the worker, who suffered severe injuries, to a nearby hospital where they succumbed to their injuries hours later. In addition, NOR-D LLC failed to notify OSHA of the incident within the required 8 hours.

OSHA’s inspection found the company failed to protect its employees by not using fall protection systems, leaving skylights without safety guardrails on the roof the day of the fatal incident. Despite this tragic incident, agency inspectors once again found NOR-D LLC allowing employees to work without these life-saving measures 2 months later after OSHA was notified of the violations.

OSHA identified nine serious violations by NOR-D LLC that exposed workers to falls and other hazards when the company did the following:

  • Failed to provide fall protection systems to workers on a roof at heights of 19 feet. 

  • Failed to install covers or guardrails on the roof’s skylights. 

  • Permitted workers to use a forklift, elevating workers on a pallet to the upper roof level.

  • Improperly used extension ladders that failed to reach at least 3 feet higher than the top of the roof.

  • Allowed employees to use a ladder with structural defects.

  • Permitted workers to operate nail guns at 120 PSI without protective eyewear.

  • Did not train forklift operators to operate powered industrial trucks. 

  • Failed to report within 8-hours the death of an employee resulting from a work-related incident.

In addition, the agency cited the employer with a serious violation for not ensuring the availability of accessible medical treatment for the injured employee.

OSHA proposed $61,065 in penalties to address the violations, an amount set by federal statute..

—DISHONORABLE MENTIONS—

  • A worker died at the construction site of the new mega-prison in Elmore County, Alabama, reportedly after a worker fell from a building under construction. Elmore Autauga News reports that the site is currently shut down and will be shut down as the investigation continues.

  • A Tennessee construction contractor could have prevented an employee’s fatal fall at a Smyrna, New York job site in December 2023 by providing adequate fall protection and training employees in its effective use, a U.S. Department of Labor investigation found.

  • Houchens Food Group, a large owner and operator of retail grocery, convenience and hardware stores and quick service restaurants headquartered in Bowling Green, Kentucky, will pay $40,000 and furnish other relief to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit that alleged the company refused to hire an individual who could not cut their dreadlocks due to their religious beliefs


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