Worker Killed in Preventable Conveyor Accident

Mount Laurel, NJ – Lockout/tagout training and machine guards could have saved the life of 23-year-old Dakota LaBrecque. That’s the finding of federal workplace safety inspectors following a 2017 worker fatality at Springfield Power LLC’s Springfield (NH) biomass plant.

EWP Renewable (doing business as Springfield Power LLC) faces $125,460 in fines following the employee fatality. OSHA has cited EWP Renewable Corp. for 25 safety violations after 23-year-old employee Dakota LaBrecque was pulled into a conveyor and died from his injuries.

In investigating the facility after the worker’s death, federal workplace safety inspectors found that the conveyor and other machinery lacked required safety guarding, and employees were not trained in lockout/tagout procedures to prevent equipment from unintentionally starting.

Springfield Power was also cited for fall hazards; electric shock and arc flash hazards; and a lack of adequate emergency evacuation, fire prevention, aworker killed conveyornd hazardous energy control programs.

Rosemarie Cole, OSHA’s New Hampshire area director, stated that EWP Renewable’s “failure to protect employees resulted in a tragedy that could have been prevented if training was provided and machinery was appropriately guarded.”

OSHA requires equipment specific lockout procedures for each piece of equipment. These lockout/tagout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment. Martin Technical’s Rapid LOTO lockout procedure development program is designed to provide high quality procedures that are easy to follow.

Additionally, OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures. Proper training ensures that the purpose and function of the lockout/tagout or 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 the workforce.

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 can help simplify the complex by applying real-world solutions for Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Training, Machine Safety & Safety Consulting Services. Contact a member of our professional safety services team today.

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Unguarded Saw Results in Amputation + Fines for PA Packager

unguarded saw, osha, amputation,Hatfield, PA – OSHA has cited Prime Packaging Partners for exposing employees to 19 different safety and health hazards at its Hatfield (PA) dog treat manufacturing facility following an industrial accident in which an employee suffered amputation due to an unguarded saw blade.

The proposed fines for these 19 violations of federal workplace safety standards total $180,685.

OSHA conducted an inspection of the Hatfield (PA) facility following a complaint that an employee suffered an amputation from unguarded saw blades.

Prime Packaging Partners has been cited for failure to implement lockout/tagout procedures; blocking electrical panels; exposing workers to confined space, machine guarding, and electrical hazards; as well as failure to develop a hazard communication program.

According to OSHA, “moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries, such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, or blindness. Safeguards are essential for protecting workers from these preventable injuries. Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact injure the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled.”

At Martin Technical, our team of safety professionals specializes in lockout/tagout proceduresmachine guarding, and industrial safety compliance.

During a professional machine safety inspection, each individual machine is registered; and defects are detected and documented. Most importantly, safety hazards are discussed with the staff involved to raise awareness and gain buy-in on the suggested solution.

Following inspection, Martin Technical prepares a report outlining the various deficiencies including photo documentation and a description of necessary changes. Often, this report becomes a cornerstone document for the staff tasked with implementing the safety solutions.

Contact our industrial safety team today to discuss how Martin Technical can strengthen the culture of safety at your facility.

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Arc Flash Hospitalizes 3 Chicago Transit Workers

Chicago, IL – An electrical arc flash blew the panel off a transformer in downtown Chicago last week, injuring three Chicago Transit Authority maintenance workers and leaving hundreds in the area without power.

The arc flash relayed to a transformer, sparking a flash fire at an electrical substation near the intersection of North State and East Lake streets. Three workers were injured. Two were in critical condition with serious burns, and a third worker was also taken to the hospital but in good condition.electrical arc flash

Chicago Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford said the fire took place at a Chicago Transit Authority substation powered by ComEd. ComEd reported that the accident caused an issue with a circuit breaker, which left approximately 500 customers in the area without power.

An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion caused by 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, which often result in injury to workers and destruction of electrical equipment.

In an arc flash, temperatures may exceed 35,000° F (for reference, the surface of the sun is estimated to be 9000° F). This discharge of extremely high temperature causes rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, creating an arc blast. The arc flash and blast usually vaporize all solid copper conductors which expand up to 67,000 times their original volume when vaporized. The arc flash and blast produce fire, intense light, pressure waves and flying shrapnel.

A variety of things can trigger an Arc Flash, but most are preventable and can be traced back to human error. Many arc flashes occur when maintenance workers are manipulating live equipment for testing or repair and accidentally cause a fault or short circuit. Improper tools, improper electrical equipment, corrosion of equipment, improper work techniques, and/or a lack of electrical safety training are some of the failures that can lead to a devastating arc flash or arc blast.

When an arc flash happens, it does so without warning and is lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to any nearby people. Proper safety and protection measures must be taken to limit the damage from an arc flash which include conducting an arc flash study, short circuit study, and NFPA 70E electrical safety training.

Contact a member of the Martin Technical Electrical Safety & Training staff today to learn how to protect your workers and your business from the risks of Arc Flash.

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Telsa Fined $110,863 for Unauthorized Worker’s Injury

Palo Alto, CA – Tesla plans to appeal their largest OSHA fine to date. As the parent company of SolarCity, Tesla was fined $110,863 for 10 violations following the electrical shock and subsequent hospitalization of an inadequately trained SolarCity employee in December of 2017.

OSHA identified 10 worker safety violations at a SolarCity solar panel installation in Amherst, Mass. Four SolarCity employees had completed construction of a 19-acre solar farm at Hampshire College when one of the workers attempted to take a cellphone photo of an electrical panel. The employee suffered electrical shock and burn injuries when he entered theunauthorized worker electrical panel which was energized at 13,800 volts.

Federal safety investigators found that Tesla failed to provide workers with adequate training or protective gear. According to OSHA, the four SolarCity workers were wearing only Class 0 safety gloves, a rating which would protect them only up to 1,000 volts of electricity. OSHA found that the workers had each completed a Tesla-mandated online safety class, however they had not been required to demonstrate safety proficiency. Additionally, none of the workers onsite that day could tell investigators how far away they should have been standing from a 13,800-volt energy source, and Tesla hadn’t conducted required inspections of its safety procedures.

Without having demonstrated proficiency following their training, none of the four SolarCity employees could be considered Certified, Authorized, or Competent Persons under the law. OSHA requires that a “competent person” be one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are hazardous or dangerous to employees, and “who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.” Without Authorized or Competent Person certification, these were not approved to perform specific electrical duties at the jobsite.

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The Challenge of Replacing Lockout With Interlocks

By Donny Snyder

The eternal battle is production versus safety, and at the very center of this is lockout, or better – avoiding lockout. The complaint, by both production and maintenance is that locking out equipment takes too long, or if they lockout, getting the machine back on line could be difficult. They will also argue that the machines have interlock controls that provide effective levels of protection and allow workers to efficiently (and safely) complete their work. The truth: maybe, maybe not.

Interlock systems (machine sensors)

An interlock is a device that will prevent one element from changing (moving), due to a state in another element. Interlocks in the work setting include electromagnetic switches, RFID proximity switches, light curtains, trap key interlock’s, etc. Interlocks open control circuits but do not isolate equipment from hazardous energy.

A good example to understand interlock is to examine your home washing machine. Washing machines have limit switches (newer models have both limit switches and lid locks) that would not allow the washing machine to run if the lid was in the open position. Raise your hand if as a child growing up you used a pen or a pencil (maybe your finger) to push that limit switch and watch the washing machine go around (author hand in the air). The limit switch (interlock safety device) keeps the machine from moving, but does it isolate it from the energy source? The limit switch does not unplug the electrical cord and turn the cold and hot water valves to the off position. And under the right circumstances (accidentally pushing down on the limit switch with your hand), the interlock can fail in its purpose and activate the machine

Interlocks have been used for decades and are one of the most misunderstood and improperly used safety devices installed on equipment. Their intended use, reliability and integrity from a safety perspective has evolved, where now there are Category 1, 2, 3 and 4 systems. These safety devices were to prevent accidents. They do not provide the equivalent level of protection that lockout provides, which is the OSHA standard. In our example of the washing machine, in terms of current OSHA language, as a child I was bypassing a guard and defeating a safety device. Technically, these are now considered Category 1 Interlock Controls. Similar devices are used every day under the guise of providing effective protection against the expected (or unexpected) start up or release of hazardous energy. Sadly, workers are injured and killed every year due to the failure or misuse of these perceived safety devices.

Interlock systems applied

Your company has Machine “X”, which is currently guarded by Plexiglas around all working parts, with interlocked access doors for workers to access. Operators are charged daily with clearing jams during their shift, which requires the worker to open an interlocked access door. This will stop the machine from running and allow the worker to clear the jam. When completed, the worker closes the door and the machine returns to normal operation.

This scenario plays out every day in companies across the United States and yet, this is in violation of the OSHA standard if the accidental energization of the machine would create a hazard for the worker. Machine “X” is still energized, and we are asking the worker to bypass a guard (they reach through the plane of the Plexiglas), place part of their body in the danger zone or at the point of operation. In this case, lockout should be applied because of the nature of the task and the measures of control in place. These types of interlocks are installed to protect workers in case they were suddenly exposed (door is opened) to an area where body parts should be placed. Over time, these interlocks have been integrated (wrongly) into the daily routines and tasks of production and maintenance where sentiment is that this is “safe” and “compliant.” Neither is true.

These types of task are often repeated several times per shift, to several times per hour. If the worker was to lockout the machine each time, they would spend a large amount of their work day locking the machine out and then returning to service. OSHA leaves it to the employer to determine (and document) what is acceptable in terms of protection when it comes to Alternative Measures of Control. The ANSI Z244.1 standard has recently provided in its 2017 update some guidance on how to determine if the Interlock Control Devices provide equivalent level of protection.

Much has advanced in the technology, reliability and integrity of Interlock systems over the past two decades. The industry has seen the development and deployment of Category 3 and Category 4 Interlock Control Devices. These systems have been proven to increase productivity (uptime) and decrease lockout (downtime), but they do come with a requirement of significant investment in time and resource to install, implement and maintain, and still do not meet OSHA requirements. From the scenario on Machine X, it would be a wise investment to install an interlock system to save a few minutes, several times an hour — which then does increase your production uptime AND protect your workers from hazardous energy.

Too often we find ourselves in conversations with customers who are looking for solutions to avoid lockout as a means to increase production uptime. The majority of the industry has equipment that requires three or fewer locks/devices to achieve a zero-energy state. There is a good argument to use Interlock Control Devices in a particular industry, with particular equipment and involving particular tasks. Invest and protect wisely for true gains in uptime and worker safety.

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Mineral Trans WA Fined After Worker’s Hand Crushed

A transport company has been ordered to pay more than $63,000 in fines and court fee’s after a worker’s hand was crushed between two containers that were being moved with a forklift in Western Australia.

Mineral Trans WA and another entity operated Cranes Haulage in August 2014 when a truck driver transported sea containers to a yard in Esperance, Western Australia to be unloaded with a forklift by the general manager. 

The truck driver was releasing twist locks that attached two containers when they became stuck, and as they were separated his left hand was crushed. He was transported to a local area hospital. He required skin grafts and pins to repair open fractures.

Mineral Trans pleaded guilty in Esperance Magistrates Court to failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace, and by that failure, caused serious harm to an employee.The company also admitted allowing an employee to operate a forklift without the appropriate licence.

Mineral Trans was fined a total of $58,000 and was also ordered to pay $5542 in costs.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Ian Munns said, “the hazard should have been foreseen. The worker should have been prohibited from removing the twist locks from the bottom container until the top container was safely removed from the pedestrian area.”

Following the incident, Cranes Haulage stopped separating sea containers and the general manager has obtained an appropriate licence to operate a forklift.

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Arc Flash Incident at Tennessee Nuclear Plant

Two contractors working near a 6.9kV electrical bus were injured in an arc flash incident on March 16th at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Sequoyah Nuclear Plant near Soddy-Daisy, TN, northeast of Chattanooga.

TVA, Nuclear plant, Arc Flash

According to an event notification report from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) posted Monday, the two contractors were transported to a medical facility for treatment. “The cause of the arc flash is not understood at this time, an accident investigation has been initiated by TVA,” the report said.

The two injured contractors sustained first and second-degree burns. Both are employees of Day & Zimmerman, an engineering, construction and security firm based in Philadelphia. TVA told television station WRCB that it has suspended similar work activities until the cause is understood.

Neither of the workers were shocked or contaminated by radiation in the incident. The TVA’s two nuclear reactors at the site, Sequoyah Unit 1 and Unit 2, remain at 100 percent power, the NRC said.

When an arc flash happens, it does so without warning and is lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to any nearby people. Proper safety and protection measures must be taken to limit the damage from an arc flash which include conducting an arc flash study, short circuit study, and NFPA 70E electrical safety training.

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Propellant Explosion Kills Worker at UT Auto Parts Plant

Promontory, UT – A propellant explosion trapped an Autoliv North America worker inside a burning building. He was rescued, but died of his injuries.

64-year-old Ronald Larson was trapped in a fire that consumed the mixing portion of Autoliv North America’s Promontory (UT) facility. He died at the hospital following an explosion in a laboratory where he was making propellants for air bag inflators earlier this week.

OSHA is leading the investigation into the industrial accident that cost 64-year-old Ronald Larson his life. The immediate cause of the explosion has yet to be fully been determined.

According to local media, Larson “was trapped inside and on site personnel were making efforts to try and extricate him from [Autoliv’s mixing] building.” The employee was successfully extricated from the building and taken to a local hospital with severe burns. Unfortunately, Larson had stopped breathing upon arrival at the hospital. Lifesaving efforts were in progress, but he was pronounced deceased a short time afterward.

Larson is reported to have been alone in the mixing portion of the building at the time of the explosion and subsequent fire. Two other workers were injured in the fire and in trying to rescue their co-worker. Their injuries are not life-threatening.

Autoliv is based in Sweden and has several facilities in Utah under the Autoliv North America brand. They are the world’s largest automotive safety supplier.

This Autoliv North America location in Promontory was the site of two previous industrial explosions and fires. In 2015 an explosion injured an employee there, and in 2013 a flash fire burned a worker’s arms and face. These prior incident will factor into OSHA’s investigation of the company’s safety practices and could lead to steeper fines if lapses in environmental health and safety are found to have been willful.

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Worker Dies After Heavy Piece of Machinery Fell on Him

PETERS TOWNSHIP, PA – Cameron Allen Funk, 19, Greencastle, was found dead at Mellott Manufacturing, according to a release from Pennsylvania State Police, Chambersburg. Funk’s death was caused by a heavy piece of machinery falling on him.

Dispatchers identified the incident as an industrial accident with entrapment when first calling emergency personnel to the scene. An update soon after indicated there was no entrapment, but that a person was dead. State police arrived on scene around 3:00 PM on Wednesday, February 28.

State Police, the Franklin County Coroner’s Office and OSHA are investigating the incident. As of right now the death ruled an accident.

“The employer has no prior OSHA inspection history,” said Joanna P. Hawkins, deputy regional director for the U.S. Department of Labor, Philadelphia. “OSHA has up to six months to complete its investigation.”

Mellott Manufacturing makes conveyors and machines for the sawmill, pallet and woodworking industry. Sixty employees work there, per the company’s website.

This is the fourth death in Franklin County, PA in the last month from heavy machinery. Three people died earlier this month as a result of a crane accident at Manitowoc Crane in Shady Grove, just east of Greencastle.

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Worker Hospitalized After Becoming Stuck in Conveyor Belt Housing

Baiting Hollow, NY – A worker is in critical condition after he became stuck inside a conveyor belt housing. Once in the confined space, the man lost consciousness and went into cardiac arrest at the sand and gravel pit where he was working.

According to local police reports,conveyor belt the 40-year-old man “became lodged inside the conveyor belt housing of a plant screener that is used for sifting soil on the property.”

The worker, currently in critical condition, is an employee of BGLJ Servicing Corporation. He was working at a property used for excavating material.

The employee shut the conveyor off and crawled into a small opening to free a jam. While in the space, he got stuck and lost consciousness. His co-worker pulled him out and emergency responders were called to the scene.

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