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2 CA Workers Fatally Crushed after Disconnecting Hydraulic Hoses

Cantua Creek, CA – Cal/OSHA is investigating the deaths of two workers fatally crushed in an accident at an almond orchard outside of Fresno (CA).

Two workers at Vista Verde Ranch were attempting to repair an almond shaker in the grove when they were fatally crushed. One of the men was a mechanic, the other a machine operator. The mechanic crawled under the almond shaker and disconnected the hydraulic hoses that powered the shaker arm. However, neither worker set the machine’s arm on the ground ahead of time. The hydraulically-controlled arm fell when the hoses were disconnected, fatally crushing both men.

Co-workers, concerned after having not heard from the pair for over an hour, went to check on the men. A call was placed to 911, and the victims were subsequently pronounced dead by paramedics. The two deceased workers were identified by the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office as Arnold Torres (66) and Angel Barajas (31).

fatally crushed

The incident is being investigated by Cal/OSHA. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, commonly referred to as Cal/OSHA, is an arm of the state government which sets and enforces workplace standards designed to protect and improve the health and safety of working Californians.

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Partial Amputation at Window Maker Prompts OSHA Fines

partial amputationHialeah, FL – OSHA has cited CGI Windows and Doors for federal workplace safety violations that include willful failures in machine guarding which will cost PGT Industries fines proposed to total $398,545. OSHA investigated the Florida window and door manufacturer following reports that an employee had suffered a partial finger amputation while using an unguarded punch press at their facility outside of Miami. CGI Windows and Doors is owned by PGT Industries.

OSHA cited PGT for two serious violations and two other-than-serious violations, however the bulk of the fine was for the willful violation of machine safety standards. In their announcement, OSHA stated that PGT Industries “knowingly disregarded machine guarding requirement intended to protect employees from caught-in and amputation hazards.” The Willful violation constitutes $258,672 of the proposed fine. In this case, OSHA applied the maximum fine allowed by law for the violations that can cause life-altering injury.

Federal workplace safety inspectors found guards absent on eight punch presses, a drill press, and a table saw at the CGI Windows and Doors facility. Three other punch presses were documented as having guards that didn’t cover enough area to protect workers.

The serious and other-than-serious citations were for hazards including failing to implement a program to inspect mechanical power presses and correct unsafe conditions; exposing employees to electrical hazards; failing to make sure employees wore hearing protection; and failing to develop specific procedures to verify the control of hazardous energy an industrial safety practice known as Lockout Tagout.

In response to OSHA’s announcement and the associated penalties, PGT asserted that they “share OSHA’s goal of ensuring the safety of each and every one of our team members.”

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Employee Loses Arm While Cleaning Machinery

Elysburg, PA – OSHA has proposed $112,523 in penalties after finding that lockout/tagout failures lead to an employee’s arm being amputated while cleaning machinery.

OSHA has cited Toy Factory TX LLC for workplace safety violations after investigating the circumstances that lead to an employee’s arm being amputated while cleaning machinery earlier this year. OSHA has proposed $112,523 in penalties for the company’s failure to develop acceptable procedures to prevent the release of hazardous energy; failure to apply lockout devices; and failure to train employees on lockout/tagout procedures.

OSHA’s local area office director stated that Toy Factory’s “failure to use appropriate machine locking devices resulted in a serious injury that could have been prevented.” Machine locking devices are an important part of an industrial Lockout/Tagout program. Lockout devices are mechanical means of locking a machine in a position that prevents energization of a machine, equipment, or a process. Energy-isolating devices cleaning machineryare applied to machinery during maintenance or while employees are otherwise servicing equipment to prevent unexpected startup and thereby avoid employee injury.

Nearly 3 million workers service equipment and these employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.

Federal workplace safety inspectors determined that Toy Factory TX LLC (doing business as The Toy Factory LLC) failed to develop acceptable written lockout/tagout procedures, failed to apply lockout devices, and failed to train employees on lockout/tagout. OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures. Appropriate training ensures that the purpose and function of the energy control program are understood by employees and that employees gain the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls.

The Elysburg (PA) facility is one of several owned by Texas-based Toy Factory TX which manufactures stuffed toys intended for use as rewards and prizes at amusement parks, entertainment game centers, and crane machines.

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AL Steel Company Cited for Unsafe Working Conditions

Montgomery, AL –Sabel Steel Service Inc faces $320,261 in federal fines for unsafe working conditions, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Sabel Steel, which was honored just two years ago for its safety record by the Alabama Department of Labor, disagrees with the findings and will be meeting with OSHA to discuss.

OSHA announced the fines in November, following inspections of each of Sable Steel’s plants in May of 2018 as part of a national emphasis on amputation prevention in the workplace. In the course of these investigations, OSHA documented employee exposure to amputation risks, and failures to safely controlling the release of hazardous energy during machine maintenance or servicing.

In terms of failures to meet federal Lockout Tagout standards, OSHA inspectors found that the written lockout procedures at Sable were vague, generic, and did not state clearly how to shut down the machine, apply the lock, and restore service. Further, OSHA cited failures to conduct and document periodic inspection of the lockout/tagout (or energy control) procedures. OSHA also fined Sable Steel for failures in regard to lockout training. Employees were found to have been authorized to lockout equipment without first having been trained on how to properly perform lockout/tagout on the machines.

Additionally, OSHA’s statement claims that Sable Steel failed to provide fall protection; failed to conduct medical evaluations to determine an employee’s ability to use a respirator; and improperly stored oxygen, propane, and acetylene cylinders.

Sable Steel is notable as a 162-year-old family-owned company, currently lead by the fifth generation. They supply steel scrap and rebar, and are reported to have quadrupled in size since 1990.

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Worker Crushed & Killed While Cleaning Machine

Edgewood, FL – An employee of an Orlando-area marble and granite facility died after being crushed by a machine he was cleaning earlier this month.

The worker has been identified as Shawn Knowles (age 44). Emergency responders were initially called to handle an arm injury, after co-workers found Knowles hurt but conscious. Unfortunately,  he subsequently lost consciousness from the shock of the injury and went into cardiac arrest.

cleaning machine

According to area fire rescue personnel, Knowles is reported to have been hosing down a water trench surrounding an automated machine when he was pushed into the wedge by the heavy device. He was crushed by a beam and a piece of the machinery. Firefighters arrived and began resuscitation efforts. Knowles was taken to the Orlando Regional Medical Center where he later died.

Part of the Majestic Marble and Granite shop was closed down while OSHA and local police investigate.

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Amputation Hazards Found at AL Food Processing Plant

Brundidge, AL – Southern Classic Food Group LLC faces $164,997 in fines following citations for amputation and other hazards stemming from separate incidents in which two employees were hospitalized, one for a finger amputation and one for burns..

In the first incident brought to their attention, OSHA stated that an employee suffered burns while using hot water under pressure. Just six days later, another employee suffered an amputation to the tip of the finger.

In the course of their investigation, OSHA found that Southern Classic Food Group exposed employees to amputation hazards; neglected to implement lockout/tagout procedures to control hazardous energy and failed to train employees on these procedures; failed to ensure employees isolated energy sources; and did not provide personal protective equipment or implement a bloodborne pathogen program. 

One OSHA citation was for neglecting to make sure workers isolated energy sources before performing line-breaking work. Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) and Hazardous Energy Control/Control of Hazardous Energy refers to the same standard of preventing unexpected start up or movement of equipment. Machines that start up unexpectedly during maintenance are common causes of industrial injury and amputation. Proper application of lockout-tagout (or hazardous energy controls) violations are on OSHA’s Top 10 “Most Often Cited Violations” and Top 10 “Most Serious Violations” lists.

Approximately 3 million workers in the US service equipment and face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.

Risk of amputation is a hazard of conducting maintenance work on industrial machinery, which is why OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies, practices, and procedures. Training ensures that the purpose and function of an energy control program is 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.

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Fatality at Australian Power Plant Reportedly Caused by Arc Flash

Yallourn, Victoria, Australia – A fatal explosion at an Australian Power Station is said to have been the result of a phase-to-phase arc flash. A unit controller with more than 30 years’ experience was critically injured during the explosion in the southeastern-most state of Australia which lead to his death the next day.

EnergyAustralia has identified arc flash as the cause of the explosion at the Yallourn Power Station, however a local union representative is not confident in that explanation and staff at the power station say they are afraid to go to work.

Graeme Edwards died after a high-voltage circuit breaker he was working on exploded last month. Edwards was re-installing a high-voltage circuit breaker on one of the plant’s four generation units when the explosion occurred, a procedure known as “racking.” EnergyAustralia stated that racking is a routine job but potentially hazardous. In this case, the unit burst into flames that burnt most of Edwards’ body. The worker was flown to hospital in a critical condition but died a day later.fatality arc flash

EnergyAustralia said it believed the “sudden electrical discharge” was caused by a “phase-to-phase arc flash.” However, they have yet to determine what caused the short circuit which is the source of union and worker worries about the safety of the workplace.

An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion due to a fault condition or short circuit when either a phase to ground or phase to phase conductor is connected and current flows through the air. Arc flashes cause electrical equipment to explode and can result in an arc-plasma fireball with temperatures in excess of 35,000° F. For reference, the surface of the sun is 9000° F. These extreme temperatures cause rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. The arc flash/blast can vaporize all solid copper conductors as they expand up to 67,000 times original volume. The arc flash produces fire, intense light, pressure waves, and flying shrapnel.

Yallorn Power Station workers will not be asked to use affect equipment involved in the incident until EnergyAustralia determines that it is safe to do so. An executive of Yallourn Power Station has said that risk assessments are being conducted and that all safety controls will be reviewed prior to resuming work.

A representative of the union which advocates for the workers at Yallourn Power station has voiced concerns that workers were not provided with the most up-to-date protective gear, including arc flash suits, similar to what bomb disposal workers use.

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Lockout Accident Costs Employee 1 Finger and Ice Cream Co $103,000

Lakewood, NJ – A preventable lockout/tagout accident at a New Jersey ice cream manufacturer has left one employee missing a finger and the company owing $103,000 in fines to OSHA.

OSHA fined the ice cream maker, Mister Cookie Face, located near Rutgers University, $103,000 after an employee lost a finger and fractured another while performing maintenance on a machine. An inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor found numerous “machine safety hazards,” according to a release from the department.

The department cited the company, which manufactures ice cream bars and sandwiches, for not having a safety lockout procedure on the machine that would have prevented it from starting unexpectedly during maintenance activities.

Lockout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the startup of machinery or equipment that may result in injuring a worker.  As OSHA’s regional director stated, “this injury could have been avoided with worker training and the use of lockout/tagout procedures.”

Mister Cookie Face was also penalized for not making sure employees used “personal protective equipment,” not providing an eyewash station where employees used corrosive chemicals and for exposing its employees to “bloodborne pathogen hazards.”

The Mister Cookie Face is owned by Fieldbrook Foods Corp of Dunkirk, New York.

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Willful Violation Leads to Lockout/Tagout Accident

Green Bay, WI – JBS Green Bay faces $221,726 in federal workplace safety fines after equipment violations led to a lockout/tagout accident that injured an employee’s hand. OSHA issued one willful violation and 10 serious violations after their investigation documented a lack of machine guarding and lockout failures at the Green Bay (WI) beef processing facility.

willful violation

According to the Department of Labor, a JBS employee “reached into a machine to move a box when the rake activated and caught his left hand, pulling it into the machine.” The employee suffered a fracture, puncture wounds, lacerations, and a pinched nerve as a result.

More than half of the $221,726 total fine was for the willful violation. OSHA defines willful violations as those “in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.”

JBS was cited for not having machine guards which protect workers from dangerous parts and moving machinery. OSHA’s inspection also noted a serious violation related to failure to turn off machinery prior to maintenance or service work.

Another of the serious violations was for not having “developed and documented” lockout tagout procedures. These written documents outline equipment-specific instructions for how to safely de-energize equipment. Lockout/Tagout safety measures keep workers safe while they perform maintenance and service tasks like the act of clearing a jammed machine that precipitated this accident.

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NJ Lumber Co Fined $106,432 for Lockout Failures

Medford, NJ – DuBell Lumber has been issued $106,432 in OSHA penalties following a federal workplace safety investigation that revealed multiple failures to protect the health and safety of workers at its New Jersey facility.

DuBell Lumber was investigated in response to a complaint of workplace safety and health hazards. Federal safety inspectors identified failures to properly control combustible dust resulting from wood processing; failures to train employees on how to control the release of hazardous energy; failures in DuBell’s lockout/tagout procedures and program; and failing to install machine guards to protect employees from amputations.

Lockout, or lockout/tagout, procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment. These written procedures help to prevent the unexpected startup of machinery or equipment that may result in a worker injury.

lockout

Millions of American workers service equipment each day – these employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. It is estimated that compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.

OSHA 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.

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