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National COSH Announces “Dirty Dozen” Employers

Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Press Contacts: 

Roger Kerson, 734.645.0535; roger@nationalcosh.org

National COSH Announces “Dirty Dozen” Employers Who Put Workers
and Communities at Risk with Unsafe Practices

SAN DIEGO, CA – The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) announced today “The Dirty Dozen” employers of 2018, highlighting companies that put workers and communities at risk due to unsafe practices. The Dirty Dozen 2018 report is released in observance of Workers’ Memorial Week, honoring workers who lost their lives on the job, as well as those who have suffered workplace injuries and illnesses.

“It’s heartbreaking to see workers lose their lives when we know these tragedies could have been prevented,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, co-executive director of National COSH. “Time and again, employers are warned about unsafe conditions. When companies fail to correct safety hazards, it is workers who pay the ultimate price.”

The “Dirty Dozen” for 2018 are:

Amazon – Seattle, Washington: Seven workers killed at Amazon warehouses since 2013 – including three workers within five weeks at three separate locations in 2017.

Case Farms – Troutman, North Carolina: 74 OSHA violations per 1,000 employees – more than four times higher than any other poultry firm.

Dine Brands Global, Inc. (IHOP and Applebee’s) – Glendale, California: Demands for sex, groping, threats of violence against workers. More than 60 complaints about sexual and harassment and abuse.

JK Excavating – Mason, Ohio: 25-year-old Zachary Hess, buried alive in December 2017. The company was previously cited three times by OSHA for failure to protect workers from trench collapse.

Lowe’s Home Improvement – Mooresville, North Carolina: 56 U.S. deaths are linked to exposure to paint strippers containing methylene chloride, including 17 workers who died while refinishing bathtubs. The retail giant still sells products with this deadly substance, despite appeals from workers, consumers and families.

Lynnway Auto Auction – Billerica, Massachusetts: Five dead in preventable auto crash – including a 37-year-old mom working her first day on the job. Lynnway was cited by OSHA and warned of vehicle safety hazards in 2014.

New York and Atlantic Railway – New York, New York: Workers suffer amputation, brain injury and impaired vision. Immigrants workers face racial slurs and other discrimination, and do not have proper safety training or equipment.

Patterson UTI Energy – Houston, Texas: Five workers dead in an explosion in Quinton, Oklahoma. 110 OSHA violations and 13 workers dead in the past decade.

Sarbanand Farms – Sumas, Washington: Farm worker dies after complaining of headaches. 70 co-workers go on strike to protest unsafe conditions and are immediately fired, then evicted from company housing.

Tesla Motors – Fremont, California: Recordable injuries are 31% higher than industry average; serious injuries are 83% higher. Company claims recent improvement in injury rates, but CAL/OSHA now investigating reports that the company failed to report serious injuries.

Verla International – New Windsor, New York: Explosion kills a worker at cosmetics plant. Company previously cited for poor handling of chemicals that led to deadly blaze; safety consultant says disaster was “easily preventable.”

Waste Management – Houston, Texas: 23-year-old worker killed at a recycling facility. Company failed to lockout/tagout machinery during repairs.

“My brother didn’t need to die, and we don’t want to see this kind of tragedy happen to other families,” said Brian Wynne. Brian’s brother Drew, who owned a coffee roasting business, died from exposure to methylene chloride that was contained in a Goof Off paint stripping product he purchased at Lowe’s.

The Wynne family has joined a campaign to convince the giant retailer to stop selling products containing methylene chloride, which is linked to more than 50 deaths and can be toxic in very small doses. “We’ve been meeting with members of Congress, senators and anyone who will listen,” said Brian Wynne. “We will leave no stone unturned.”

“Workers at Tesla have been speaking up about health and safety concerns for over a year,” said Jonathan Galescu, a worker at the company’s Fremont, California assembly plant. “We’re making clean cars – we shouldn’t have to put up with dirty jobs. Too many workers are getting hurt and management seems to be trying to sweep the problem under the rug.”

Reports in May and December 2017 from Worksafe, a National COSH affiliate based in Oakland, documented recordable and serious injury rates at Tesla much higher than average for the automotive industry.  Based on recent reports from RevealNews.org, CAL/OSHA is investigating whether Tesla is failing to record serious injuries that occur inside its manufacturing plant.

Data presented in the National COSH “Dirty Dozen” report show that workplace deaths in the U.S. are on the rise. According to the latest information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,190 deaths from workplace trauma in 2016, an increase of seven percent from 2015 and a 12 percent increase since 2012.

The budget for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has declined by 12 percent since 2012 and the agency has 132 fewer employees.

OSHA and other safety agencies, including the National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), were targeted for further budget cuts in FY 2018, along with the elimination of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board and Susan Harwood Training grants. Harwood grants assist unions, COSH groups, employer associations and other non-profits in providing training to vulnerable workers.

Worker and their unions, COSH groups, worker centers and safety advocates carried out a sustained outreach effort to members of Congress and convinced a bipartisan majority to avoid dangerous cutbacks in programs that protect workers and families.

“We need more resources for research, training and enforcement, not less,” said Goldstein-Gelb. “Otherwise, employers like the Dirty Dozen get the message that it’s okay to cut corners on workplace safety. It’s not okay– ever – when a worker doesn’t come home to his or her family.”

The “Dirty Dozen 2018” report is available on the National COSH website here. Workers’ Memorial Week infographics are available in English and Spanish here.

Workers’ Memorial Week is a global event to honor workers who lost their lives on the job and their families, as well as recognize those who suffer from occupational injuries and illnesses. In the United States, dozens of activities in 35 states will remember fallen workers. A listing of events is available on the National COSH website.

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National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org. Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.