April 6, 2015 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 14Comment

Jeffrey Shannon, 49 suffered fatal traumatic injuries on Monday, March 30, 2015 while working at Sunoco’s Marcus Hook Industrial Complex in Delaware County, PA. 6ABC reports:

  • ”It happened around 2:15 p.m. at Blue Ball Avenue and Post Road on the grounds of the refinery.”

NPR’s State Impact Pennsylvania reports:

  • “The worker died from multiple blunt force injuries after a 1200 foot pylon fell on him.”
  • Mr. Shannon was a contractor at the site and he worked for the engineering firm AECOM.
  • The facility is being converted from an oil refinery to a natural gas storage and processing plant. “In addition to Sunoco employees, the project includes about 400 contract workers on site.”

Mr. Shannon’s obituary indicates he worked for AECOM for the last 15 years. In February, the company was named by Fortune magazine as one of the world’s most admired companies. The stock market value is $4.9 Billion.

In September 2013, OSHA issued citations against AECOM for six violations of the agency’s cadmium standard at a worksite in Chambersburg, PA. The violations included cadmium exposures to employees above the permissible exposure limit. Cadmium exposure can cause short- and long-term health effects, including kidney damage and lung cancer.) AECOM contested the violations and the proposed $30,000 penalty, and the case remains open.

AECOM reports that the principles of its “Safety for Life” program will enable it to achieve its goal of zero employee injuries. Those “life-saving principles” include: Demonstrated management commitment; Employee participation; Budgeting and staffing for safety; and Incident investigations. Obviously something went terribly wrong with AECOM’s, Sunoco’s, and/or another contractor’s practices at the worksite.

Each year, about 175 workers in Pennsylvania are fatally injured on-the-job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 178 work-related fatal injuries in Pennsylvania during 2013 (preliminary data, most recent available.) Nationwide, at least 4,405 workers suffered fatal traumatic injuries in 2013.

The AFL-CIO’s annual Death on the Job report notes:

  • Federal OSHA has 57 inspectors in Pennsylvania to cover more than 296,000 workplaces.
  • The average penalty for a serious OSHA violation in Pennsylvania is $1,916.

Federal OSHA has until the end of September 2015 to issue any citations and penalties related to the incident that stole Jeffrey Shannon’s life. It’s likely they’ll determine that Shannon’s death was preventable. It was no “accident.”

14 thoughts on “Not an “accident”: Jeffrey Shannon, 49, suffers fatal work-related injury in Marcus Hook, PA

  1. The principle of Safety for Life , should have been a thing that should have been established by now at every mine . Mines makes a lot of profit but still their workers are dying . This is so unfortunate as it seems profit matters more than people’s lives . Such has to be reversed so as people’s lives are put first than how much the mine would generate.

  2. The saddest thing is that most of the people working in mines are low income earners who cant really afford to fight for the protection of their rights. I feel that thes large companies hardly pay for these violations and that some of these safety programs they seem to be embarking on are just for show. If tthis company were serious about implementing better safety measures shouldnt they have done so years ago and maybe recent deaths such as that of Mr Shannons would have been avoided. u15106692

  3. According to OSHA, workers have the right to a workplace that is not endangering to their lives.It is up to the employers to make sure that this right does not get violated at all times.Ensuring the safety of the workers is a small price to pay for all their work.How are the workers supposed to feel safe in their work if incidents like these happen? (15233538)

  4. It wasn’t a 1200 foot pylon. It was around 10 to 20 foot and no safety measures were taken when it was being cut down

  5. As frank said the pylon was 10 to 20 feet in height. Piles were cut down and allowed to fall much like timber: without any rigging or any means of controlling the fall of the excess pylon. Mr. Shannon happened to be in the fall radius of the pylon.

  6. This should be a very urgent wakeup call to the management of the mine. Stricter safety measures and precautions should definitely be implemented to prevent unnecessary deaths, like Mr Shannon’s.

  7. The 1st issue is obvious, the lack of safety precautions and looking after the employees. The example cited about the cadmium exposure being above the regulatory limit shows how little care was taken with the safety and well-being of the workers. The fact that there are relatively few inspectors comparative to the number of work sites shows that there needs to be more inspectors employed to ensure that all of the worker’s safety rights are met. I feel like it is irresponsible for the pylons to be left to fall like timbre surely with the number of fatal “accidents” they would realize that safety requirements need to be improved. Are these really accidents or simply negligence?

  8. In my opinion,companies will put the safety of employees at risk if it meant getting a higher profit.The value of life is now at mercy of the profit that the company generates.

  9. It is sad how such large and successful companies can get away with almost anything. The fact that a worker died on site and that the company had been in the red end before for exposing it’s employees to high levels of a dangerous chemical should be reason enough for the company to receive more than just a heavy fine.

    Authorities should take legal action before other hazards occur and more lives are lost.

  10. First things first. Cadmium is not a chemical; it’s a heavy metal. I understand that everybody here has worker safety as a priority and your heart is in the right place, but making inflammatory unproven remarks about a company with a relatively good safety record such as AECOM/URS is not helpful. No I don’t work for AECOM, but I work in the same field. Although I don’t know the details, I’m guessing the cadmium exposure was discovered BECAUSE of their safety program. There are very specific medical monitoring programs that must be followed for cadmium and lead (including follow up blood testing). Saying that this is an unsafe company because of some one time exposure is not logical. If any of you had worked in the remedial field, you would know that heavy metal exposure is not a rarity and it’s really easy to be exposed. Anything from bad respiratory seals to inadequate hygiene practices can cause it. You can only monitor people so much…and practices can vary from site to site. Every company has a couple bad apples, but overall, AECOM is very responsible and safety oriented. Now as to the fatality at Sunoco, I will be curious to see what the final outcome is. I’m a little surprised that Sunoco allowed them to free fall the cut off top sections of the pylons. Many don’t consider it a good practice…but is common place in some companies/dock builder trades. The alternatives (cranes, fork lifts, etc are not ideal either) I wouldn’t think most facilities/refineries would allow it anymore though. Obviously improvements need to be made…but AECOM is one of the good companies. There are plenty of other companies (shipyards are notorious for it) exposing workers to heavy metals/asbestos/etc. You just don’t know about it because there are not proper medical monitoring programs in place. At least this company had the proper procedures to catch the issue and fix it. We don’t live in a perfect world and environmental remediation is a tough and risky business to be in. We all WANT zero accidents/incidents…but unfortunately it will never be 100% achievable. Don’t crucify a company over a couple mistakes…no company is perfect.

  11. Environmental Worker,
    Thanks for you comment. Colloquially, I think it is A-OK to call cadmium a chemical. I don’t use the word “chemical” in my blog post, but I’m not going to quibble if a comment calls a heavy metal a chemical.

    The cadmium exposure was identified by OSHA, not through the company’s safety but because of a complaint. in my mind, that suggests the company has some deficiencies in its safety program. If the overexposure was found during an OSHA inspection, I can’t help but wonder what working conditions are like when OSHA is not in the facility.

  12. Cadmium is definitely a chemical, but so what? Water is a chemical, air is a mixture of chemicals as is dirt, wood and every piece of matter in the universe!

    What the heck is wrong with being a “chemical”?

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