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Wegmans Fined an Additional $140K for Repeated Lockout Accidents

Rochester, NY – The bakery division of NY-based supermarket Wegmans again faces steep OSHA fines for repeated lockout tagout failures – this after being fined $188,000 in 2015 for failing to implement lockout tagout procedures in their central baking facility.

These new fines were triggered by a December 2015 incident at Wegmans’ central baking facility in Rochester wherein an employee was injured while cleaning a cindustrial bakery lockout repeated failuresonveyor belt that was still energized. The worker’s hand was caught between the belt and roller, pulling her further into the machine and breaking bones in her hand and arm.

In an investigation after the December 2015 incident, OSHA found Wegmans had not trained its workers to turn off the conveyor belt and lock out its power source while cleaning. Workers were found to have regularly cleaned the machine without turning it off, which is a violation of OSHA’s hazardous energy control standard. The resulting fine of $140,000 is high because of the repeated and preventable nature of the violation.

This isn’t the only sort of accident that can happen at a workplace. When companies don’t give the proper training, or follow safety regulations, then accidents can happen. It could happen to the staff or customers, for example, grocery stores have many common hazards to staff and customers. Spills from soap, spaghetti sauces, juice, and a crowd of shoppers walking through the aisles create a load of safety hazards. But when something like this happens, if not properly dealt with then this could cause someone a serious injury. Doesn’t matter which grocery store someone is injured in, it could be HEB, the victim will be able to make use of someone like this HEB Injury Attorney and claim compensation for their injuries. So the best thing that a business can do is ensure that this doesn’t happen, and follow the safety guidelines (by training their staff properly as well).

Lockout/tagout (hazardous energy controls) violations are on OSHA’s Top 10 “Most Often Cited Violations” and Top 10 “Most Serious Violations” lists. While many companies have general written policies, they often lacking the equipment specific procedures which provide workers with the specific steps to properly isolate energy sources. Lockout/Tagout fines are based on each piece of equipment, and can add up to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

OSHA also requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures. Training is done to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program are understood by employees and that the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls are acquired by employees.

Lockout Training is one of the 5 Key Components for Lockout Programs, which are as follows:

  1. Equipment Specific Lockout Written Procedures
  2. Lockout Training
  3. Padlocks and Lockout Devices
  4. Periodic / Annual Lockout Audits
  5. Written Lockout Policy

Contact a member of our Safety & Compliance Team for a Free Consultation on How We Can Help with Your Lockout/Tagout Training Needs.

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Wisconsin Foundry Faces $200K Fines

MARINETTE, WI – The recent federal safety inspections of a northern Wisconsin foundry determined workplace safety failures caused two workers to suffer severe injuries.  In May, a worker lost two fingers to amputation and in July, an overhead hot metal carrier struck and injured another worker. US Department of Labor proposes $200K in fines for the foundry. The company has 15 business days to comply, request a conference, or contest the findings before the independent OSHRC. Waupaca Foundry Inc. is a leading supplier of iron castings to the automotive, commercial vehicle, agriculture, construction, and industrial markets.

A-Wisconsin-foundry-faces-200k-Fines
A Total of Three Inspections Led to Penalties of $200K

While OSHA investigated the incident at Waupaca Foundry Inc. in Marinette, the agency opened a second scheduled inspection under its National Emphasis Program for Primary Metals. Inspectors found violations related to exposures to respirable crystalline silica and noise. The employer reported the July 17 injury to inspectors during the second inspection, which led to a third inspection. After completing the three inspections, OSHA issued one willful, seven serious, and five other-than-serious violations to Waupaca Foundry. The proposed penalties are $200,895.

The Violations

OSHA determined that a lack of energy control procedures, commonly known as lockout/tagout, exposed workers to hazards in both incidents. OSHA cited the following violations:

The foundry industry had a 6.4 percent rate of injury in 2020

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the foundry industry had a 6.4 percent injury rate for every 100 workers in 2020.  “Foundries are inherently dangerous industrial operations. The workers are exposed to hazards from machinery, trips and falls, occupational noise, and respirable silica,” said OSHA Area Director Robert Bonack in Appleton. “Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their workers,” he continued.

Key Takeaways

In conclusion, establishing a complete and comprehensive Lockout Tagout program that includes clear and precise lockout procedures for all workers is imperative. Partnering with certified lockout technicians and safety experts on developing LOTO procedures and placards allows faster and more accurate turnaround times. Additionally, routine safety training can also prevent accidents and avoid fines, ensuring the highest level of safety and efficiency in your workplace.

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Creating a Safe Work Environment for Warehouses

Warehousing is one of the riskier industries due to high-powered machinery and vehicles operating within proximity of each other. Rapid growth in e-commerce is driving an ever-increasing demand for the delivery of products in shorter timeframes. Industrial and commercial warehouses are to keep up with this demand while complying with the current safety expectations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports thousands of injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the warehousing industry annually. Many of those are caused by workplace accidents such as slips or falls, hazardous materials, and equipment malfunction. Warehouse safety should be the employers’ utmost priority to keep employees safe, ensure efficient operation, maximize productivity, and minimize injury or damage. Below are some factors to consider when planning a safe work environment for warehouse employees.

creating a safe warehouse environment

Building a Safety Culture and Procedures

Establishing comprehensive safety procedures can help prevent workplace accidents in warehouses and promote a safe work environment.  An engaging safety procedure starts from the top-down; management should walk the talk in cultivating such values into the company culture. While employees may have the required certification for the job, this does not always include in-depth safety training. Thus, providing ample opportunities for employees to access safety resources, including signage, safety stickers, regular safety meetings, and safety training, is essential in creating a safe work environment. Consider developing training programs with the help of industry subject matter experts that offer blended and interactive training solutions. Ideally, a comprehensive training program should include a good mix of on-site training, hands-on validation, online learningwebinarstoolbox talks, and virtual reality courses in multiple languages for easy access.

Other good practices include posting signs around the warehouse indicating different safety procedures, regular communication on safety tips, and announcements on new safety procedures. Incentivize workers to take safety courses and recognize their efforts to demonstrate exemplary safety protocol. Consider putting together a safety handbook or manual that includes potential hazards, safety protocols, and rules.

Lockout/Tagout Procedure

Establishing a complete and comprehensive Lockout Tagout program that includes clear and precise lockout procedures for all workers is imperative, especially in heavy machinery warehouses. Routine training on using the equipment, shutting it down correctly, and isolating the power sources by following the proper lockout tagout procedures can prevent accidents and avoid fines, ensuring the highest level of safety in your warehouse.

Key Takeaways

Warehouse workers are more likely to internalize the safety culture and take it seriously when they know the company is responsible, accountable, and invested in their well-being. A safe work environment helps warehouses build a good relationship with their employees and supports businesses in achieving higher recognition.

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Other related resources:

  • Warehouse safety best practices https://blog.sliceproducts.com/warehouse-safety-best-practices
  • Tips for improving warehouse safety https://ohsonline.com/articles/2021/04/01/ten-tips-for-improving-warehouse-safety.aspx
  • Warehouse safety tips https://www.fluxpower.com/blog/warehouse-safety-tips
  • Warehouse safety guidelines https://www.slideshare.net/envirotechint/warehouse-safety-guidelines

Infographic provided by Enviro Tech International

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Spice Importer Cited by OSHA

JACKSON, AL – A Spice importer has been cited by OSHA. iSpice is a global spice importer located in Jackson, Alabama. OSHA reported on April 23rd that they are citing the company $121,511 in penalties.

The workers were found to be exposed to amputations, struck-by, crushed-by and The Spice Importer Cited by OSHA may have avoided citations by using lockout devices similar to this one. electrical hazards. OSHA found iSpice allowed workers to clean the plant’s mixing machines without employing lockout tagout. They employer also failed to implement energy control procedures, train workers on lockout/tagout, and use machine guarding in regards to a rotating portion of the mixer.

Other hazards included allowing workers to use industrial trucks with a damage seatbelt; failing to ensure drivers were competent to operate the equipment; exposing them to electrical hazards by allowing boxes and outlets that were uncovered or lacked faceplates to be used; and a fan with a splice in the cord to be used.

In their press release, OSHA quoted Area Director Jose Gonzalez, “This employer put their employees at serious risk needlessly by failing to provide training and implement well-known protections. These protections are not optional, they are every workers right.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Martin Technical provides Lockout Tagout services and training to help companies avoid citations such as these and the accidents they can cause.

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Company Cited for Workplace Death

CHIPPEWA FALLS, WI – A company has been cited for a workplace death in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Berry Global, a plastic fabrication company, has been issued $40,959 in fines regarding the death of one of its employees due to an accident at their plant.

The accident occurred October 5th 2020. According to local news the 54-year-old man received a laceration to the head when he was struck by a piece of machinery. Police reviewed a video of the incident and determined it was an accident.

As of press time, OSHA’s inspection report for the case cites as all violations Lockout/Tagout. Martin Technical offers Lockout Tagout services to prevent accidents such as these.

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OSHA’s Top 10 Safety Violations of 2020

 

The Occupational Health and Safety Association (OSHA) recently announced its top 10 safety violations for the 2020 fiscal year. Every year, OSHA announces its top 10 most frequently cited safety violations. This helps alert employers so they may prevent these hazards before they take place.

 

No. 10: Machine Guarding

Last year Machine Guarding ranked number 9. In 2020 it received 1,313 citations. It’s reassuring to see fewer citations in this standard. But, worker amputations continue to be a concern.

No. 9: PPE and lifesaving equipment related to eye and face protection

The previous year, eye and face protection was in spot number 10, so this citation has increased. This relates to PPE that prevents eye and face injuries including chemical, environmental and other hazards. This can include Arc Flash-related injuries. So, proper Arc Flash labeling programs are critical in ensuring PPE is worn in these situations.

No. 8: Fall Protection Training requirements

Citations were given out for failure to provide proper training materials and programs.

No. 7: Improper Use of Industrial Trucks

The Improper Use of Industrial Trucks held the same ranking as it did last year at 1,932 citations.

No. 6: Lockout Tagout (Control of Hazardous Energy)

Lockout Tagout went down from number #5 in the year prior. In 2020, it held 2,065 violations. Improper training and procedures are often to blame. Martin Technical offers LOTO training to prevent accidents and citations of this very kind.

No. 5: Improper use of Ladders

2,129 citations were given for the Improper use of Ladders in 2020.

No. 4: Scaffolding

Scaffolding moved from #3 to #4 in 2020 with 2,538 citations.

No. 3. Respiration Protection

This standard had 2,649 citations in 2020, moving from #5 to #3. This is both due to lack of fit testing and program management.

No. 2. Improper Implementation of Hazard Communication

Hazard Communication relates to the evaluation and clear identification of hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Related citations in 2020 numbered at 3,199.

No. 1: Fall Protection

Fall Protection has been the number one citation for 8 years, with 5,424 citations in 2020. In partnership with PIXO VR, we offer fall protection training through Virtual Reality training allowing a “hands on” experience of a previously inaccessible training experience.

Going Forward

These top 10 alone make up a total of 24,239 citations. What will you do to prevent citations, injury, and deaths in your facility in 2021?

If your safety program needs a tune-up, contact Martin Technical today. We look forward to earning your business. Call us at 866-234-6890, email Sales@MarTechnical.com, or contact us here.

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Nevada OSHA Investigates Death of Quarry Worker

Henderson, NV – The Nevada Occupational Safety and Hazard Association (Nevada OSHA) is investigating the death of Harry Kenneth Peterson III, as reported by The Las Vegas Review Journal. Last week, the fire department was called to a rock quarry described as the Viento Puntero Pit.

A generalized image of a rock crusher as it crushes large chunks of rock into smaller pieces

Fire Department Chief, Shawn White, reported what he was told by emergency crews. Crews were informed that Peterson had been helping others move a rock crushing machine to another area of the work site.

When part of the machine was apparently jammed, Peterson tried to fix it and was caught in the machine. Rescue workers said it was not clear how he became stuck. White reported Peterson had head and chest injuries. When rescue crews arrived, Peterson had already been removed from the machine.

When emergency crews arrived, Peterson was breathing and transported to to Sunrise Trauma. On Friday, Peterson succumbed to his injuries at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center.

The death has been ruled an accident. The Fire Department has contacted Nevada OSHA to investigate the work site death. A related police report was released Wednesday. It did not contain details about the incident, except that it did not appear to be a result of a criminal act.

Nevada OSHA’s spokeswoman, Teri Williams, described Peterson’s employer as Las Vegas Paving Corp. The company lists their services on its website, including: asphalt placing, aggregate crushing & material supply, Design-Build. James Barker acts as Las Vegas Paving Corp’s general counsel. He did not comment out of respect for the family and because of the ongoing investigation.

Martin Technical encourages employers to conduct thorough training in all necessary regulations to prevent accidents such as these. Lockout Procedure Development and Lockout Tagout Training are a critical part of any industrial safety program.

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Nitrogen Leak Kills Six, Injures 11 in Poultry Plant Accident

Gainesville, FL – On January 28th a deadly nitrogen leak took the livesAn example photo of industrial liquid nitrogen cannisters of six workers at Foundation Food Group poultry plant located in Gainesville, Florida. The leak occurred during unplanned maintenance on a processing and freezing line. The line was installed about a month prior, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board’s report on January 30th.

In addition to the six dead in the nitrogen leak, there were 11 injuries, one more individual was sent to the hospital, and 130 other workers were forced to evacuate. Katherine A. Lemos, CEO & chairwoman of the CSB stated the investigation “…may take up to several years.” New information is still coming forward, and will continue to do so as Lemos suggests.

What We Know Currently

In the CSB’s report from January 30th, it was detailed that there was a release of liquid nitrogen. This rapidly converted to a gas. Because the gas form of liquid nitrogen is heavier than air, it forced the oxygen out the room.

How the liquid nitrogen was released was not detailed. The CSB is currently working to isolate the exact location of release inside the plant. Additional damage to the plant was avoided when a manger turned off an external isolation valve after the leak began.

Other details noted in the report included: Tools were found on the ground near the equipment. The plant receives 2-3 18-wheel truckloads per day of liquid nitrogen. Manufacturers of interior equipment are being looked into, and the supplier of liquid nitrogen was noted in the report.

Going Forward

The CSB lacks the authority to issue fines or criminal charges. However, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating the leak. The CSB has noted its investigations will include examinations and evaluations of multiple factors. The will include training as well as operations and procedures. Martin Technical encourages all industries and professionals to keep all employees up to date on training, as well as safety procedures and operations such as Lockout Tagout. Keep your team informed on all regulations and industry standards to prevent accidents such as these.

Read more coverage from NPR, New York Times, and USA Today

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Moving Parts Injure 2 at AL Packaging Plant

Mobile, AL – OSHA has issued fines of over $75,000 to an Alabama packaging manufacturer for failing to protect employees from the hazards of moving parts. Ampac Mobile Holdings LLC (operating as ProAmpac) was found to have been exposing employees to caught-in and struck-by hazards at their Mobile (AL) facility. Federal workplace safety investigators are charging $75,156 in penalties for inadequate machine guarding and lockout/tagout procedures violations.

OSHA was alerted to the Ampac/ProAmpac facility after an employee suffered a severe hand injury as a result of getting caught in a piece of equipment. In a moving partsseparate accident, an Ampac employee’s finger was lacerated when struck by moving machine parts.

In the course of their investigation, OSHA determined that Ampac failed to use proper machine guarding measures, and failed to control hazardous energy by implementing effective lockout/tagout procedures.

Unfortunately, these two accidents could have been prevented. As OSHA’s Acting Mobile Area Office Director stated, “A comprehensive safety and health program, includ[ing] an evaluation and correction for amputation hazards, could have identified and prevented these injuries.”

An estimated 3 million American workers service equipment in the course of their jobs. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not effectively implemented. Compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents approximately 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Additionally, it has been estimated that workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.

For these reasons and more, please contact a Lockout and Machine Safety Expert at Martin Technical today if you have any concerns about the safety of equipment and employees at your facility.

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Death Due to Willfully Unguarded Machinery Leads to $250K Fine

Santa Ana, CA – Cal/OSHA announced fines of over a quarter of a million dollars against Aardvark Clay & Supplies this week. The fines are the result of Cal/OSHA’s investigation into a 2018 worker death at the facility which has been attributed to willful failure to properly guard equipment and lack of lockout/tagout training.

Enrique Garcia-Vazques (18) died in a workplace accident at the Santa Ana (CA) clay products business on Sept. 20, 2018 when he became fatally entangled in a clay manufacturing machine called a pug mill. According to reports, Garcia-Vazques was packaging clay blocks after they were cut to size when he became caught in the unguarded mixing blades of the machine as he attempted to identify why the clay stopped traveling through the extruder. According to Cal/OSHA’s report, Enrique Vasquez Garcia sustained amputation, puncture and asphyxia-related injuries in the workplace accident.

Cal/OSHA found that machine safety guards had been purposely removed from the industrial mixer and that the worker had not received training on the machine prior to the accident. Local emergency responders tried to free Garcia-Vazques from the equipment, but sadly, in the end he was declared dead at the scene.

According to said Cal/OSHA’s statement, “Pug mills have rotating blades that can cause amputations and fatally injure employees…Employers must ensure all machinery and its parts are properly guarded, and employees are effectively trained to prevent tragic accidents like this.” Aardvark Clay & Supplies uses the industrial pug mills to manufacture and mix clay.

Investigators with California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health found that all four of the pug mills in Aardvark’s Santa Ana shop had unguarded openings exposing employees to the moving parts. This is in direct violation of safety regulations requiring mixers to have a cover to prevent employees’ hands from entering the machine during operation. This willful failure to guard machinery was cited as one of the willful-serious violations for which Aardvark is being held accountable.

Five violations were levied against Aardvark Clay & Supplies, along with a grand total of $250,160 in proposed penalties. Among the violations, one was categorized as willful-serious accident-related, one was classified as willful-serious, two were deemed serious, and one was general. Accident-related violations are cited when the injury, illness, or fatality is caused by the violation. Serious violations are cited when there is a “realistic possibility” that death or serious harm could result from the hazard created by the violation.

The willful-serious violations were cited for the Aardvark’s failure to guard machine openings and points of operation. The serious violations identified hazards from the unguarded cutting portion of the clay machine and failure of the employer’s safety program to identify unsafe conditions, implement corrective procedures, and effectively train employees on work-related hazards.

The state of California requires employers to conduct and document inspection of safety hazards as a part of their state-mandated Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Employers whose workplaces feature machines with moving parts, such as mixers, are also required to train their employees in Machine Guarding and Lockout/Tagout in an effort to prevent exactly the type of accident that killed Garcia-Vazques.

Aardvark Clay & Supplies was found to have failed to effectively train workers on the hazards involved with operating their machinery, and then found remiss in identifying and correcting their machine safety hazards. Machine safety guards were provided by equipment manufacturer, but Cal/OSHA found that Aardvark had removed the guards. Investigators documented evidence of fabricated guards having been added to the machines at some point in their operation, but these were found to have been later removed when the employer “believed they interfered with the rate of production.”

For this reason, Cal/OSHA categorized Aardvark’s violation as willful. Willful violations are cited when the employer is aware of the law and still violates it or is aware of a hazardous condition and takes no reasonable steps to address it.

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