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Think you’ve seen it all? These headlines prove that just about anything can happen at the job.
Here’s our round up of the seven craziest safety-related headlines you don’t want to be a part of (and the solutions that would have solved them before the disaster happened). Please note, this blog hasn’t been written to make light of these awful workplace accidents but rather to show that anything is possible. Every safety preparedness program must expect the unexpected and anticipate for something to go wrong on the job each day… These examples were unexpected to say the least!

1. Bear repellent sends Amazon workers to hospitals after canister discharges fumes

Chili, red pepper flakes and chili powder burst
According to CNN, a machine punctured an aerosol canister of bear repellent spray in Amazon’s New Jersey fulfillment center, sending two dozen workers to hospital. Upon being punctured, the spray (which is made of capsaicin – better known as chili pepper extract) caused the workers to have trouble breathing, and their eyes and throats began burning. A wing of the 1.3 million-square-foot facility had to be evacuated. According to Wired, this isn’t the first time that Amazon has had a problem with bear spray; a Texas location had the same issue when a robot ran over one of the aerosol cans in 2015.
Takeaway: Proper material handling and storage is essential when it comes to warehouse environments. In our online course, we cover the basics of recognizing potential hazards, understanding the methods of accident prevention and how to properly move, handle and store materials.

2. Chimpanzee sanctuary to pay $12K in OSHA fines: Employees’ fingers bitten off

smiling chimpAn animal sanctuary in Oregon has been ordered to pay over $12,000 in OSHA fines as a result safety infractions that were observed over the course of three visits. Inspectors discovered that there had been over 30 incidents of the chimps biting, scratching, bruising and even completely tearing off the skin of workers. (Yikes!) There were also at least four finger or thumb amputations.
Takeaway: Animals are unpredictable which is why it’s important to anticipate that something could go wrong at any time. It’s also important to wear the right protection for the job. 70 per cent of hand injuries are a result of workers not wearing gloves. 30 per cent of hand injuries (to those who do wear gloves) are caused by wearing the improper type for their job. An anti-bite and anti-scratch resistant glove could have saved some injuries in this instance. Have questions about your glove protection? Drop our PPE Specialist, Leslie Molin, an email for more information.

3. Three Apple workers hurt walking into glass walls in first month at $5bn HQ

What’s “trendy” isn’t always what’s safe. According to The Guardian, the new Apple headquarters is bringing in more than new jobs; several employees reported injuries after walking into walls in the circular, four-story building which is made of glass and metal. The glass reportedly was specially treated to achieve an exact level of transparency and whiteness. The articles states, “Despite warnings from a building inspector that people would not be able to tell where the door ends and the wall begins, at least three Apple employees walked or ran into the ultra-transparent glass hard enough to require emergency medical treatment during the first month of occupation, according to recordings of 911 calls obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle.” Having seen quite a few near misses at the Apple stores in the mall alone, I imagine this all-glass building is still having its fair share of run ins (see what I did there?).
Takeaway: While it’s likely that some of the affected workers could have been distracted by looking down at their iPhones, it seems clear that the all-glass design doesn’t promote worker safety. Be sure to be aware of your surroundings at all times and post safety signage wherever it’s needed.

4. ‘Freak accident’: Cow’s head-butt breaks jaw of Connecticut farm worker

Closeup view of the nose of a Holestein dairy cow with other cows in background.Similar Images:A 23-year-old dairy farm worker from Connecticut was airlifted to hospital after a cow swung its head into his face, causing his jaw to break. The employer explained, “We do a lot of things to stay safe and our animals are calm. This was a freak accident.” While the victim’s name wasn’t made public, his employer told the press that he had worked on the farm for about five years, alluding to the fact that this wasn’t an unseasoned employee.
Takeaway: Just as we saw with the chimp injuries, animals can be very unpredictable. The National Safety Council estimates that approximately 120,000 agricultural workers suffer from disabling injuries each year. Type II hard hats provide some protection to the front, back and sides in addition to the top of the head.

5. ‘Lucky to be alive’: Man shares story after losing leg in wood chipper accident

Subject: City workers trimming street treesA day before his 32nd birthday, a landscaper from Massachusetts came close to death when his foot got trapped on a branch. The victim explained that the branch “essentially became a zip tie on [his] leg” and started pulling him into a wood chipper. Luckily, his coworkers sprang into action and put the chipper into reverse, sparing the landscaper’s life. While the man lost his leg, we was lucky to be alive after the ordeal.
Takeaway: Sometimes, despite our best efforts, “freak accidents” do occur. While it’s important to wear all of the appropriate PPE for the job at hand, it should be your last resort. Always be certain that you’re keeping enough distance away from a hazard, and be sure to check in and see that your coworkers are working safely.

6. Bringing Home the Bacon: Injuries Sustained in Collision with 400-lb. Wild Hog

Wild boar on the side of the roadYou read that right. According to the LexisNexis Legal News Room, a casino worker from Mississippi collided with a giant boar while driving home late from work one night. While wild hogs aren’t native to Canada, there are many cases of drivers getting into accidents with wild animals including this OPP officer who crashed his motorcycle after hitting an airborne Canada goose. Generally, when you’re driving anywhere outside of the city, you can be at risk of hitting a wild animal.
Takeaway: Defensive driving extends to more than just being prepared to react to other drivers. Whether it’s a hog, moose, deer or goose, it’s important to always be alert on the road and prepared to react to whatever comes your way.

7. Worker struck by lightning while loading plane at Little Rock airport; ‘thankful to be alive,’ he says

Stormy clouds shoot down a lighting bolt at the earth from the heavens.A 52-year-old Arkansas UPS worker was struck in the head by lightning while loading a plane in February of 2019. The man, who had worked for the package delivery company for 35 years, reports seeing a blinding flash and hearing instant thunder before being knocked unconscious for several minutes. Aside from the baseball-sized char mark on his head, the worker was lucky to walk away with little injuries.
Takeaway: Just as the weather advisor from the article explains, it’s essential to avoid working outside during storms: “If you hear thunder, you’re close enough to get hit by lightning, so get inside.”

While these seven stories may not be lucky, they are important examples to keep in mind if the thought “that won’t happen to me” ever crosses your mind. No matter how bizarre some of these examples might sound, they did in fact happen.

Have questions about your safety preparedness program? Be sure to contact us today.

Julie McFater

Director of Marketing

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