Gainesville, GA– OSHA of the US Department of Labor cited Foundation Food Group Inc. and three other companies for a total of 59 violations and a combined $998,637 in penalties following its investigation of a liquid nitrogen leak that killed six people working in a Prime-Pak Foods processing plant in Gainesville, GA.
The incident occurred January 28th, after a freezer at the plant malfunctioned, releasing colorless, odorless liquid nitrogen into the air, displacing the oxygen in the room. OSHA said in its report that three maintenance workers entered the freezer room without safety precautions. The three maintenance workers and three other workers died immediately.
OSHA investigated the incident and found that Foundation Food Group and Messer LLC of Bridgewater, NJ, “failed to implement any of the safety procedures or necessary to prevent the accident and found that did not do safety training for employees on the safety procedures they can take to protect themselves, and the methods used to detect the presence or release of nitrogen, the hazards of liquid nitrogen, and emergencies.
“This horrible tragedy could have been prevented had the employers taken the time to use – and teach their workers the importance of – safety precautions,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer in Atlanta. “Instead, six workers died because their employers failed to follow necessary procedures and to comply with required safety and health standards. We hope other industry employers learn from this terrible incident and comply with requirements to prevent similar incidents.”
OSHA cited Foundation Food Group Inc. for 26 violations for the uncontrolled release of liquid nitrogen; the Company also failed to develop, document, and use lockout procedures, nor ensure the procedures were shared between the host employer and contractors. The Company faces $595,474 in penalties.
FS Group Inc., which manufactures equipment and provides mechanical servicing, was also cited by OSHA for eight serious violations for failure to train workers on the physical and health hazards and emergency procedures. The Company also failed to ensure the development and use of specific written lockout procedures and ensure that the host employer and contractors shared information on lockout procedures. FS Group faces $42,325 in penalties.
East Norriton, NJ– According to an OSHA investigation, Wilmer Mejía Landaverde, a New Jersey worker building an Amazon warehouse in East Norriton, fell from the structure’s roof. Mejia’s fall was fatal due to his injuries from falling 25 feet.
A Trenton-based construction contractor employed Mejía. Mejía’s brother, Josué, said he and his brother were replacing roofing material before Mejía’s fall; he recalled that his brother removed his safety ties briefly for a water break. Both workers have cables attached while they work. After returning from break, he did not put his cable back on.
According to East Norriton police, the fall occurred at 3:48 p.m. at a construction site on 53 West Germantown Pike. Amazon was not involved in the construction nor are they under investigation.
In a statement, an official from IMC Construction stated: “Despite extensive safety training, inspections, procedures, instructions, safety personnel on-site and mandated safety requirements, the worker was witnessed by his co-workers removing his mandated safety line from his safety harness while on the roof, and within minutes fell.”
Amazon spokesperson Branden Baribeau noted that the East Norriton site is under construction, with no Amazon employees. “We’re saddened by this tragic incident and extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones,” he said. “It is our understanding that OSHA is investigating, and we will work with them as needed.”
OSHA stated it has up to six months to complete the investigation. In addition to the Construction Contractors, the agency said it is also investigating the roofing contractor.
“Falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths,” OSHA experts caution on the agency’s website. “Employers must set up the workplace to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated workstations or into holes in the floor and walls.”
BROOKLYN, NY– A Bronx contractor was cited for a scaffolding accident and a worker’s fall when his arrest harness was not tethered as required by OSHA. The 21-year-old laborer, who was erecting scaffolding, suffered a deadly fall at a Brooklyn building project on November 13th, 2020.
Falls are the leading cause of death and injury when proper safety protocols are not in place. The laborer who was installing a welded frame scaffold fell over 50 feet from the construction site of the seven-story Brooklyn building.
“The Company cited the tragedy could have been prevented if Everest Scaffolding had provided appropriate training on fall hazards and ensured workers were using fall protection correctly,” said OSHA Area Director Kay Gee in Manhattan.
OSHA proposed $300,370 in penalties for the two serious safety violations. The Company did not train their workers on Fall Hazards and did not make sure they were using the protection correctly.
The Company Failed to evaluate the feasibility of using fall protection correctly and did not adequately train employees on fall hazards associated with scaffolding work.
ADRIAN, MO– A local Missouri grain facility has been cited for an injury and explosion from failing to correct critical safety procedures, including potential dust ignition sources at their Adrian grain loading facility.
Due to its negligence, the company suffered a grave explosion that seriously injured an employee and destroyed the main elevator at an Adrian grain loading facility. OSHA cited West Central Agri Services for one willful and six serious safety violations totaling $215,525 in OSHA fines.
The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined the explosion could have been avoided if the company set up bucket elevators with monitoring devices that notify workers when a belt is slipping and potentially causing friction – this can ignite grain dust.
Within grain handling facilities, OSHA standards require a storage capacity of over one million bushels, and the company had not updated its dust collection system since its installation in 1974. MFA Enterprises failed to meet safety standards.
The company also did not repair an overhead trolly system used for connecting fall protection devices. The trolly system was out of service at the time of its investigation and noted violations, including a lack of preventive maintenance and a failure to designate hazardous areas existed. The company workers were exposed to fall hazards when walking atop the railcars to open and close the hatches without fall protection which is inconsistent with fall protection training and safety measures.
MFA Enterprises Inc. is one of the region’s oldest agricultural cooperatives and brings together 45,000 farmers in Missouri and adjacent states. Together with working with OSHA’s Grain-Handling Safety Standard focuses on the grain and feed industry’s six significant hazards: engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, “struck by,” combustible dust explosions, and electrocution hazard.
“West Central Agri Services failed to follow industry standards and create company policies for safe grain handling, and needlessly put their workers in danger,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kimberly Stille in Kansas City, Missouri. “Grain handling hazards can be avoided by using well-known safety measures that are proven to help prevent workers from being injured or killed.”