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Worker Sues, OSHA Fines over $144k as Florida Construction Accident Develops

Orlando, FL- A coworker of two men who fell to their deaths at a hotel construction site near Walt Disney World’s Epcot last year has sued Marriott and others in Orange Circuit Court, saying the companies acted with “gross negligence” by not providing sufficient safeguards for workers. The incident left Brown shaken, leading to his taking medication for depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, and suing for $15,000 in damages.

A scaffold 80 feet up supporting the men collapsed on Aug. 29, 2018, under the weight of concrete being poured during the 16-story hotel’s construction. The hotel remains on schedule to open early next year, according to Marriott’s website.

In March, OSHA found that the accident occurred after supports collapsed while workers were pouring concrete on the seventh floor of the hotel structure. OSHA said that PCL and Universal Engineering did not inspect formwork, shoring, working decks and scaffolds to ensure compliance with formwork drawings and that PCL did not make sure the formwork brace was able to support vertical and lateral loads.

OSHA fined both PCL and Universal in connection with the accident but ended up withdrawing the citations and fines issued to Universal a few weeks later. PCL is contesting the three OSHA violations — two serious and one willful— and the $144,532 in fines.

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Heavy Fines for Machine Safety Hazards at WI Facility

machine safety hazardsEau Claire, WI – A cookie dough manufacturing facility in Eau Claire, Wisconsin faces $782,526 in penalties for “continually exposing employees to machine safety hazards.” Choice Products USA LLC was cited for similar machine safety violations following an OSHA inspection in 2016, and as a consequence has now been placed in OSHA’s severe violator enforcement program.

Choice Products was cited for five egregious willful violations for their failures to implement an effective lockout/tagout (LOTO) program. OSHA also found that employee training on lockout/tagout was inadequate to prevent worker’s from unintentional contact with machinery during service and maintenance activities. Federal workplace safety inspectors also determined that Choice Products failed to install proper machine guarding.

Choice Products had been cited in a 2016 inspection for exposing employees to similar lockout/tagout and machine safety hazards.OSHA’s severe violator enforcement program  targets employers who have demonstrated what they term an “indifference” workplace safety obligations by committing “willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.”

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$132K in OSHA Fines for GA Countertop Manufacturer

osha fines manufacturerDecatur, GA – Last week OSHA announced $132,604 in penalties for safety violations documented at Atlanta Kitchen LLC. According to their press release, Atlanta Kitchen employees were exposed to health hazards from silica used in the facility and safety hazards from amputation risks and electrical dangers found at the Decatur kitchen countertop manufacturer.

Federal workplace safety investigators claim that Atlanta Kitchen exposed workers to unsafe levels of silica. Silica is a mineral used in construction materials which, according to OSHA, can be dangerous if inhaled. OSHA found the manufacturer failed to conduct monitoring to determine employees’ exposure to silica.

OSHA also found that employees were at risk of electrical shocks, and that Atlanta Kitchen did not put safeguards on dangerous equipment. Lapses in machine safety and/or machine guarding create amputation hazards around machinery in workplaces.

In addition, Atlanta Kitchen was cited for Lockout/Tagout failures. OSHA documented failures to develop written procedures for a hazardous energy control and failures in implementing the facility’s lockout/tagout program.

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Arc Flash Tragedy Strikes Phoneix

Phoenix, AZ – Numerous buildings in the downtown area of Phoenix were without power for days following a recent fatal arc flash incident. One Arizona Public Service Electric Company (APS) worker was killed, and another was injured when an underground electric vault caught fire on Sunday June 30th.

Phoenix police report the name of the worker who died as Ricardo Castillo, age 42. Emergency crews who responded to the fire say that flames where shooting out of a manhole at the scene. Police have said that a 46-year-old worker had exited the vault, and suffered burns on his hands and face. That man was taken to a local burn center for treatment and later released.

Many in the Phoenix area were impacted by this tragic electrical flash fire. The fire that followed the arc flash left a number of downtown buildings and light-rail statioarc flashns without power well into the week. According to a Maricopa County spokesperson, around 1,000 workers had to either take Monday July 1st off or work from home due to the power outage. Trials and hearings at the Maricopa County Superior Court complex had to be cancelled in the wake of this unfortunate event.

According to news reports, Castillo and the other APS employee were replacing a power cable in an underground vault when an electrical flash triggered a fire. APS and the Arizona division of OSHA will be working together to determine what caused the fatal arc flash.

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, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment.

During an arc flash, temperatures may exceed 35,000° F. For perspective, the surface of the sun is 9000° F. The high temperature of an arc flash causes the surrounding air to heat very rapidly and exert extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. The arc flash or arc blast can vaporize all solid copper conductors. These copper conductors will expand up to 67x times their original volume when vaporized. The resulting arc flash produces fire, intense light, pressure waves, and flying shrapnel.

When an arc flash happens, it is without warning and lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to anyone nearby. Proper safety and protection measures must be taken to limit the damage of an arc flash including conducting arc flash studies, hazard analysis and labeling, short circuit studies, and NFPA 70E electrical safety training. Please contact an electrical safety specialist at Martin Technical if your plant or facility has any concerns about arc flash risks.

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Three Workers Burned in Arc Flash at Ontario Mall

workers burnedLondon, Ontario – O’Connor Electric Ltd was fined $60,000 this week as a consequence of a Jan 2018 arc flash incident which burned three electrical workers at an Ontario shopping mall. The company plead guilty to failing to establish and implement written measures and procedures to ensure that its workers were adequately protected from electrical shock and burn.

At the time of the arc flash incident, a crew of six were upgrading the service in an electrical room at the mall. The workers were planning on installing a new disconnect switch and wiring. Three O’Connor Electric employees has started installing the disconnect when an arc flash occurred. Canadian Occupational Health and Safety officials determined that the existing service had not been shut down when work began. Mistakenly working on an energized electrical system lead to the arc flash which burned the employees.

In Canadian court proceedings this week, O’Connor Electric Ltd. and one supervisor plead guilty. The supervisor was charged with failing to ensure workers followed OHSA guidelines for properly disconnecting the power supply. The company was charged $55,000 in penalties, and the supervisor was fined $5,000.

Ontario Construction Regulations dictate that power supply “to the electrical equipment, installation or conductor shall be disconnected, locked out of service and tagged … before the work begins, and kept disconnected, locked out of service and tagged while the work continues.” Accordingly, the Ministry of Labour found that O’Connor Electric failed to establish working conditions compliant with that regulation, and that the supervisor failed to ensure that workers followed the regulations.

Arc flashes are violent and lightning-quick. They can cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment. There are many avenues to mitigate or reduce the risk of arc flash incidents and their threat to electrical and maintenance workers. Contact a member of our Electrical and Industrial Safety team today to discuss Arc Flash Assessment and Labeling, Compliance, and/or Training needs of your staff and facility. At Martin Technical, our goal is always to provide practical safety and efficiency services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer, and more efficient.

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Lockout Accident Kills Contractor at IN Ethanol Plant

Bluffton, IN – Valero Renewable Fuels was the site of a workplace death this month caused by a lockout accident. A 42-year-old contractor was found dead at the plant, his body trapped in a piece of machinery.

Ryan West became trapped in machinery while working as a contractor at the Valero Renewable Fuels ethanol plant in Bluffton, IN. Local police have stated that Valero employees called 911 saying they couldn’t find West and feared he had been in an accident. When emergency responders arrived, they found his body caught in a piece of equipment. West was employed by Diversified Industrial Services, a grain equipment supplier, and was performing maintenance work on a large auger.

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 machinerylockout accident or equipment that may result in worker injury. Lockout/Tagout is also known as LOTO or Control of Hazardous Energy. These terms refers to the same safety standard and procedures and practices designed to prevent the unexpected start up or movement of equipment, especially crucial during maintenance or service work.

A study conducted by the United Auto Workers revealed that 20% of fatalities among their membership were attributed to inadequate hazardous energy control or lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures. An estimated 3 million workers service equipment as a part of their work duties. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard is said to prevent approximately 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year at facilities across the US.

Indiana’s arm of OSHA is investigating this latest incident, while local news media are reporting a history of safety violations at the ethanol plant. Earlier this year, Valero’s Bluffton plant was fined for “serious safety violations” involving machinery safety and lockout/tagout.

Tragedies such as this lockout accident in Indiana are preventable. Please contact a Lockout Specialist at Martin Technical today to discuss how we can help to make your plant or facility better, safer, and more efficient with the support of our suite of Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessment, Training, Machine Safety, and Safety Consulting services.

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Failure to Lockout Machine Breaks Worker’s Arm and Prompts $100+ in Fines

Napoleon, OH – Failure to lockout a machine at Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corp. was found to have been the cause of a worker’s broken arm. Federal workplace safety agents inspected the aluminum can manufacturing facility following a lockout/tagout accident, and Silgan Containers now faces proposed penalties of $106,080 for one repeat and three serious safety violations of lockout/tagout standards.

The fines were the result of an OSHA investigation triggered by an employee who suffered a broken arm while servicing a machine at Silgan Containers’ Ohio facility. An estimated 3 million workers service equipment at their jobs. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout (LOTO) is not properly implemented. Compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents approximately 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries annually in this country alone, and saves an average of 24 workdays that would be needefailure lockout machined for recuperation in the case of a lockout accident.

The single repeat and three serious safety violations were issued for failure to train employees on energy control procedures, perform periodic inspections of energy control procedures, and failure to provide adequate machine guarding at a pinch point. Lockout/Tagout (also known as LOTO) refers to a system of controlling hazardous energy in an effort to prevent the unexpected start up or movement of equipment, which especially necessary to reduce worker exposure to injury during service and maintenance activities.

According to OSHA’s Area Director, “Employers are required to train their employees on proper lockout/tag out procedures to prevent the release of stored energy or unexpected startup of equipment.”

It has been reported that OSHA cited Silgan Containers for similar violations at its Wisconsin plant in 2015.

Contact a Lockout/Tagout Specialist at Martin Technical today to discuss how we can provide practical safety and efficiency services to make your plant or facility a better, safer, and more efficient place to work.

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Machine Safety Violations at TX Rubber Co Lead to Hefty Fines

Houston, TX – Machine safety violations found at Custom Rubber Products resulted in over half a million dollars in fines this month. OSHA reported failures in machine guarding which exposed employees to severe injury, amputation, and caught-in hazards. Custom Rubber Products has been fined for similar violations in the past and remamachine safety violationsins on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA issued $530,392 in penalties and cited Custom Rubber Products, LLC, for four egregious willful machine safety violations for exposing workers to amputation, machine guarding, and caught-in hazards. The company was cited for similar hazards in 2014 after a worker suffered a severe injury at the rubber fabrication facility. This hefty fine represents the maximum penalty allowable under current federal workplace safety laws.

According to OSHA’s general requirement for all machines, guards must be used to protect operators and other employees from hazards like nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks which might be present during operation of machinery.

As stated by OSHA’s Acting Regional Administrator in Dallas, “Employers are required to assess potential hazards and make necessary corrections to ensure a safe workplace…The inspection results demonstrate workplace deficiencies existed putting workers at serious risk of injury.”

At Martin Technical, our team of machines safety specialists combines the talents of electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, maintenance professionals, and safety experts. We understand that while machines must be safe to use, safety procedures should not hinder production or reduce the capacity of the machine. Our multi-functional teams address safety not only from an engineering perspective, but also from a production line and maintenance perspective. This unique combination of expertise provides our customers the best combination of safety and efficiency. Contact us today to discuss machine and worker safety solutions to make your facility or plant better, safer, and more efficient.

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Machine Guarding Failures Lead to $687,650 in Penalties

Strattanville, PA – A 2018 amputation due to machine guarding failures at a PA modular home manufacturing facility lead to an OSHA investigation which revealed numerous workplace safety violation and resulted in a staggering $687,650 in penalties.

Last month, OSHA issued willful and serious citations to Champion Modular Inc. for failures in the areas of machine guarding, fall protection, electrical safety, hazard communication, lockout/tagout (LOTO), combustible dust, and training.

On the topic of machine guarding failures, OSHA’s local Area Office Director stated that “moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries if they are not safeguarded…Employers’ use of machine guards and devices is not optional. Employers are legally responsible for ensuring that machine operators are protected.”

In the investigation triggered by the November 2018 amputation, OSHA documented Champion Modular employees’ exposure to numerous workplace safety hazards. Some of the machine guarding failures included damaged plastic guards on a table saw which exposed employees to the saw blade, work rests on grinding machinery not adjusted properly, a grinder was being used without the proper guard, and a hand-fed circular ripsaw found without a spreader and missing a kickback device.

Hazards caused by combustible dust were also evident at the Champion Modular machine guarding failuresfacility. Combustible dust was found to have accumulated in the higher areas of the facility, which posed an increased risk of fire. Additionally, a dust collector that was not equipped with devices and systems to prevent fire was noted as having the potential to expose employees to fire, burn, and deflagration hazards.

Violations of federal Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) machine safety standards was another a part of the citations and penalties OSHA issued. OSHA inspectors found equipment and machinery at the manufacturing facility that was missing lockout/tagout procedures altogether. Additionally, Champion Modular allegedly failed to perform periodic inspections of machine servicing and equipment maintenance procedures.

OSHA investigators also noted electrical safety violations and hazards at the PA manufacturing facility. Electrical equipment was found installed and/or in use outside of the intended purpose, not in compliance with instructions. Inspectors noted duct tape and electrical tape being used to cover up and hold together a damaged control pendant.

Violations and fines of this magnitude are avoidable through conscientious workplace safety programs – Martin Technical is a leading provider of practical safety and efficiency services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer and more efficient. Our experts simplify complex workplace safety practices by applying real-world solutions for Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Training, Machine Safety & Safety Consulting Services.

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Fatal Conveyor Accident at CT Masonry Company

New Milford, CT – A concrete masonry facility was the site of a tragically fatal conveyor accident last week. Daniel Kendrick, age 29, was killed on the job after becoming trapped in a conveyor belt system. OSHA is investigating the workplace fatality.

conveyor accident

The masonry plant operated by New Milford Block and Supply was the site of the fatal conveyor accident. Kendrick is reported to have been a production operator at the concrete processing facility, with less than a year on the job.

The worker initially had been reported as missing, sadly though his body was subsequently discovered in a conveyor belt system used to move cement blocks. The medical examiner for the area ruled Kendrick’s death as accidental after determining loss of life due to blunt compression injuries to the head and torso.

Representatives of OSHA’s office in Hartford (CT) spoke with journalists this week, stating that “OSHA is gathering information to determine whether or not there were any violations of workplace safety standards in connection with this incident.”

Unfortunately, New Milford Block and Supply has been the focus of recent OSHA citations for violations of federal machine guarding safety standards in 2018, and previously in 2013 as well.

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