Sunday, October 16, 2011

Freezer Update

From the Friday memo of September 30:

Central Freezer Update:  Facilities has completed 12 high priority work orders since fall of 2010 in the central freezer that serves the central kitchen. The work has significantly reduced the icing problems in the freezer. We have also implemented regular preventative maintenance work orders to monitor and adjust problem areas before they become safety issues or emergencies. Working with Local 609 and Risk management, work orders for system upgrades and replacements have been created and entered in our work order system. This work will eliminate the intermittent issues that remain with the freezer system and should be completed in the next 12 months. Any remaining ice is managed by having maintenance staff remove any accumulation and place collection buckets nightly. This routine has been in place since January 2011 and has been effective in ensuring a safe walking surface and work environment for kitchen staff.  When work assignments changed to support summer work at the end of June, the routine was disrupted: ice was not removed and buckets were not positioned over the July 4th holiday weekend. As a result, a hazardous accumulation of ice developed by Tuesday, July 5th. The Washington State Department of Occupational Safety and Health was contacted. The Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) have notified the District that a citation will be forthcoming for this repeat violation.

To date approximately two hundred employees whose jobs might call for them to enter the freezer have been trained on the hazards of the refrigerant used in the central Freezer. In April, DOSH reviewed the list of employees trained and were satisfied that the list was complete. In June, approximately 6 employees who work at school building kitchens were brought to the central kitchen for the Summer Sack lunch program.  These employees were not properly trained and a second citation will be issued to the District.  Risk Management is working with nutrition services and facilities to ensure a system is in place to train all employees working in the building. Training was completed with nutrition services at their staff meeting in August. We will send a detailed update related to the new citations when they are received.

Additionally, the Facilities Operations Department has been reorganized and will be forming a new JSCEE Safety Committee.  This committee will include representatives from all labor partners and administration to provide a more robust structure to process safety concerns.  Discussions have begun with 609 on this process.


Melissa Westbrook said...

This is one of those stories that just goes on and on.

Why doesn't the district just fix the darn thing and be on the right side of compliance instead of waiting to be cited?

Jamie said...

Melissa, I was thinking the exact same thing. Instead of having to train over 200 people how not to hurt themselves, just fix the damn thing.

Catherine said...

That fridge was installed for the opening of the kitchen in 2003. When did this problem start? What's different between when the problem started, and now? Shouldn't it still be under warranty? Since the problem isn't with the panels - but either the installation or the compressor, it's not like it needs an whole new unit. If 200 staff people have to be trained once a year in how to be safe using this thing, at let's say $20/hr of real cost. Plus every day the thing needs someone to tend to it - $20x365 days - plus all the management time to deal with this - plus the cost of the fees for the safety violations... we're talking spending $20K a year working around a problem that's probably a $30K one time fix. And let's not forget what happens when some staffer slips and falls and really hurts themselves in there. SSD is self insured so even a broken wrist will cost the district another $5-10K.

Yeah - what exactly is the problem?

Dave said...

There have been a number of injuries on the ice buildup in the freezer since the District moved in. The two injuries that occured in September 2010 brought about the involvement of the state through a safety complaint by the union. The District's "Risk Manager" (Richard Staudt) advised other administrators (Cordell Carter, Eric Boutin and Ms. Garmoe of HR) not to "bend to their bluster" so little has been done.

The "warranty" is long over. The training is about how to react after a leak of fluid from the pipes inside and how to protect yourself and others if locked inside (there is no notification system).

But for the efforts of the manager of Facility Services (Bruce Skowrya), nothing would have been done at all.

The "Friday Memo" version gives the sanitized version to counter the fact that the union sent the latest citation and fine to the Board with accompanying comments.

Mr. Staudt should be thankful that others are finally doing what he should have done years ago. Even if the state has to force the issue.

Charlie Mas said...

When you're adding up the cost of the freezer problem, don't forget the fines that the District is paying for not fixing it. The last fine was about $12,000.

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