Marshfield, WI – Felker Brothers Corp faces $110,458 in fines for 13 serious violations of federal workplace safety regulations, including failure to adequately anchor machinery to the floor and other machine safety concerns.
OSHA investigated the Wisconsin manufacturer of steel pipes and tubes after receiving report of a worker who suffered severe injuries after being struck by a moving piece of machinery. The worker was hospitalized after suffering a shattered jaw and concussion.
At Martin Technical, we are very aware that safety solutions must not hinder production or reduce the capacity of the machine. During machine safety inspections, each individual machine is registered, defects detected and recorded, and safety hazards are discussed with the staff to attain consensus on any suggested solutions. After inspection, we prepare a report outlining the various deficiencies including photo documentation and a description of necessary changes. This report can become a foundational document for the staff who must implement the safety related solutions.
Machine safety inspections include mechanical parts, electrical components, safety switches, emergency stops, and guards. While machines must be safe to use, they must also not hinder production or reduce the capacity of the machine. Inspection of machinery is based on the grounds that the machine must be safe to use and machinery and equipment must be maintained in good and safe working condition.
Felker Brothers Corp. manufactures and custom fabricates stainless steel pipe, tubes, and fittings at manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin and Kentucky.
Athol, ID – An accident is under investigation at the northern Idaho lumber mill where a worker died in an industrial accident last Friday. A 45-year-old man was fatally injured while trying to clear a broken piece of wood from a machine at the Merritt Brothers Lumber Company. Emergency workers were called to the mill just after 6a.m., and the employee was pronounced dead after being taken to a local hospital.
Lockout Tagout safety procedures are imperative in every industry, but the risk of amputation or death in workplace situations common to lumber and paper mills really highlights the importance of having a comprehensive lockout plan in place to prevent the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment during maintenance activities.
OSHA requires that equipment specific lockout procedures be written for each piece of equipment. These lockout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, which helps to prevent the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.
Lockout/Tagout procedures should be developed that outline how to isolate any prime movers, and machinery and equipment whose energy sources include mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, electrical, thermal or other. Lockout procedures are to be developed in compliance with OSHA CFR 29 1910.147 and with any state program requirements.
A written lockout/tagout policy (LOTO) is one of 5 key lockout program components required by OSHA and ANSI. The written lockout policy governs the lockout program for the company and provides references for implementing and following a successful safety program. Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) and Hazardous Energy Control refers to the same standard of preventing unexpected start up or movement of equipment. The terms are used interchangably, although “Lockout” is more universally used in the United States as it is the term OSHA uses, while ANSI uses “Control of Hazardous Energy ” in their standard, which is used more often by non-US entities.
Violations of lockout-tagout (hazardous energy controls) 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 are lacking the equipment specific procedures which provide workers with the specific steps to properly isolate energy sources. Fines for lockout violations are based on each piece of equipment, and can add up to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The #1 most cited OSHA regulation for manufacturing is Lockout-Tagout (LOTO). LOTO fines from OSHA increased over 65% from 2010 to 2011.
Approximately 3 million American workers service equipment – these employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard (29 CFR 1910.147) 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. In a study conducted by the UAW, 20% of the fatalities that occurred among their members between 1973 and 1995 were attributed to inadequate hazardous energy control procedures specifically, lockout/tagout procedures.
Call a professional on our Safety and Compliance team today to discuss how Martin Technical can bring our expertise and experience to your facility. We genuinely care about people, and are dedicated to getting every one of your employees safely to the best part of their day: getting home!
Wellington, New Zealand – An electric utility worker in New Zealand has been awarded more than $85,000 in compensation after suffering serious burns in an electrical arc flash while working at a Wellington substation in 2014. The heat of the arc flash was so severe that the man’s pants melted on his legs.
The electrical accident occurred when two Northpower employees were performing maintenance work on roadside transformers. A bracket fell onto live contacts, causing an electrical short and arc flash. In court, the injured man testified that he had pulled a transformer off a panel, and was then hit by the arc flash and flames.
The electrician, who was 20 when the accident occurred, described the pain, trauma and ongoing effects of the incident in court last week. “I pulled the transformer off the panel and all I could hear was myself screaming and the flames and the arc flash,” he told Wellington District Court on Thursday. “All I could feel was intense heat and there was me, running for my life.”
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. Temperatures may exceed 35,000° F. For reference, the surface of the sun is 9000° F.
These high temperatures cause rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. The arc flash will likely vaporize all solid copper conductors which will expand up to 67,000 times their original volume when vaporized. An arc flash produces fire, intense light, pressure waves, and flying shrapnel any of which can cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment.
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.
The court ruled that Wellington Electricity and Northpower failed to provide clear instructions to prompt workers to stop if they encountered increased risks or conditions; was responsible for not shutting off the power before work was undertaken; and for not documenting hazard assessments. The 2014 incident led to immediate changes in Northpower’s work practices, including a new approach to planning and risk assessment.
Columbus, IN – A worker cleaning at Rightway Fasteners was injured after becoming pinned in a machine at the plant last week. The employee was believed to be cleaning bolts when the accident occurred. Columbus (IN) firefighters responded to the industrial accident.
The worker’s name has yet to be released. He was pinned in the machine and then extricated by other Rightway employees before the fire department arrived. The employee was treated for cardiac arrest at the scene by firefighters and ambulance personnel then transported to Columbus Regional Hospital.
Approximately 3 million American workers service equipment – these employees face the greatest risk of injury from hazardous energy. Compliance with OSHA’s 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.
Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) and Hazardous Energy Control/Control of Hazardous Energy refers to the same safety standard designed to preventing unexpected start up or movement of equipment during routine maintenance. In a study conducted by the United Auto Workers, 20% of the fatalities that occurred among their members between 1973 and 1995 were attributed to inadequate hazardous energy control procedures.
Rightway Fasteners specializes in cold forming, thread rolling, heat treatment and surface treatment of high-torque tension bolts, screws, shafts and pins for the automotive industry. They employ 339 employees. Toyota is Rightway’s largest customer, according to the company.
Monaca, PA – Workers were killed and injured by toxic fumes while working in a confined space at the Bruce Mansfield Power Station in Beaver County (PA) last week. Two contractors died after inhaling toxic fumes in an underground pit, and three workers above the pit were overcome by toxic gas and hospitalized.
The contractors worked for Enerfab Corp. and were in a ‘confined, well-type’ area. The two workers in the pit, removed an elbow joint in a pipe which released hydrogen sulfide gas into the air in the confined space. 34-year-old Kevin Bachner and 42-year-old John Gorchock, both of Pittsburgh (PA), died.
Many workplaces contain areas that are considered “confined spaces” because while they are not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. A confined space also has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is therefore very dangerous in an emergency. Confined spaces require special signage, safety protocols, and equipment.
The Mansfield Power Station, located about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, is FirstEnergy’s largest coal-fired plant and remains operational. 350 people are employed there.
Pueblo, CO – After suffering a severe head injury during her time in a prison-work program, former Colorado inmate Kandy Fuelling is suing Pueblo Wood Products and the supervisor who allegedly had assured her that the saw was turned off.
When lumber got jammed on a conveyor belt at the Pueblo sawmill where she’d been working through a prison-work program, Fuelling obeyed the prodding of her foreman and fellow inmates. She climbed below the conveyor belt and reached toward the wood. Fellow inmates and on-site supervisors assured her that they had turned the saw off and it was safe to yank the lumber from under the conveyor belt.
According to documents filed at the U.S. District Court in Denver, “upon dislodging the wood, and without warning, a saw came straight at Ms. Fuelling’s head, slicing through her helmet (and scalp, causing her to bleed profusely). Ms. Fuelling screamed as loud as she could, but her voice was muffled by the noise of the saw.”
Fuelling, 48, is also suing the Colorado Department of Corrections and several of it’s employees, including those who drove her back to La Vista Correctional Facility instead of taking her to a hospital. The lawsuit says the still-bleeding and screaming woman should have been rushed immediately to a hospital emergency room. Once she was seen at a nearby hospital, Fuelling had a 4- to 5-inch scalp laceration and received 15 stitches.
At the time of the accident, Fuelling was serving prison time for escape and being an habitual traffic offender. Fuelling has since been released from prison and placed in community corrections.
The lawsuit alleges that “corners were cut and on-the-job-safety training took a back seat to profit margins earned by Pueblo Wood, CCI and DOC.” Lawyers claim that Fuelling’s safety training consisted of receiving four pages of tips including advice for how to avoid avoid back injuries and getting cuts from sharp objects.
Loveland, CO – OSHA is opening an immediate on-site investigation of the UPS facility in Loveland (CO) after a worker’s arm was severed in an industrial accident involving a conveyor belt last Wednesday morning.
Against protocol, other UPS staff members started transporting the injured man to a hospital in a private vehicle. Emergency dispatchers were able to contact the people transporting the man and an ambulance was able to meet the vehicle holding along the highway. The injured worker was transferred into the ambulance and then taken to a local hospital.
Upon their arrival at the scene of the accident, Loveland Fire Rescue Authority (LFRA) personnel worked to extract the man’s arm from the conveyor belt, and then reunited it with the injured man via ambulance.
Conveyor belt lines at the Loveland UPS Customer Center were stopped after the accident, and the plant was expected to resume its normal evening package sorting operations.
Herb Gibson, area director of the Denver OSHA office, said that “it’s too early to determine the cause and exactly what occurred.” According to OSHA’s website, workers caught in, between, or compressed by industrial equipment comprised 7.2% of all worker fatalities in 2015.
Carthage, NY – A paperboard facility in upstate New York is facing 61 citations and nearly $360,000 in OSHA fines, prompting many employees to worry about layoffs. Federal safety inspectors found that Carthage Specialty Paperboard’s Carthage mill lacked safety guards to prevent amputations, and locks that halt start-ups during equipment maintenance.
In addition to the failures in lockout/tagout and machine safety, OSHA inspectors also found that employees did not receive required training or safety equipment and were sent into confined spaces without atmospheric testing or rescue protocols in place.
OSHA area director Christopher Adams stated that “the violations found during this investigation put employees at serious risk of injury or even worse…This is a significant number of hazards for a single workplace.”
Electrical hazards were also cited in OSHA’s report. They documented a lack of safety equipment or training for employees working on electrical systems charged with up to 2,300 volts of electricity.
Safety locks were missing on machines to that prevent them from being turned on during routine maintenance – these locks and safety procedures are known as Lockout/Tagout. OSHA requires that equipment specific lockout procedures be written for each piece of equipment. These lockout 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, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.
Carthage Specialty Paperboard representatives say that the mill is old, which is why it has many of these problems. A United Steelworkers Union representative says that investment is needed: “It needs money. It’s an old mill. Old mills take investment to keep running.” Carthage Specialty Paperboard is owned by Delta Point which has invested $3 million into the mill over the last several years and has said it plans to put in another $2 million. Mill workers are worried about the state of their jobs. The labor representative said that “if they don’t see Delta Point coming in with money to invest in the facility, there’s a lot of anxiety.”
Tiverton, Devon, UK – An employee’s hand was crushed and may require amputation as the result of an industrial accident in England. Heathcoat Fabrics’ attitude toward machine safety has been described by Exeter prosecutors as “willful blindness.”
Heathcoat Fabrics, located in the Southwestern portion of the English isle, has been fined the equivalent of nearly $385,000 for admittedly “contravening health and safety regulations by failing to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the L-Stenter mangle at their plant in Westexe.”
Local officials began investigating Heathcoat following an incident in 2016 which led to employee Anthony Seward suffering a serious crush injury to his left hand. Seward did not realize that the rollers were on when he was preparing and cleaning the L-Stenter mangle for the night. His left hand became entangled in the machine which had been outfitted with a stop-cord, but not the light curtain that it should have had.
Light curtains are installed to automatically stop machine operations when a beam of light is broken. The machine at Heathcoat Fabrics had a light curtain installed in 2009, but it broke down in January 2014. Replacement parts had been ordered, but were not installed. Instead, a risk assessment by the employer decided that the use of an emergency stop-cord would be a sufficient safety measure.
The local prosecutor has said: “This case is about the fact that [Heathcoat Fabrics] failed to reinstate the light curtain to stop access to the danger zone. They knew this was a risk as they had installed it as a control measure prior to the incident happening. The fact that they had assessed the risk and had put in the control of the light curtain previously shows how avoidable and preventable this accident was. What they did instead was inadequate and resulted in this very serious injuries.Their willful blindness to the risk that was in place meant that the controls did not reach industrial standard.”
Delair, NJ – Aluminum Shapes LLC announced layoffs effecting 61 employees this month as a consequence of heavy fines incurred under the newly implemented increased OSHA fee structure. A statement from Aluminum Shapes reads: “The size of OSHA’s fine as it stands today has forced the company to take these extreme measures.”
The aluminum parts manufacturer was cited in July for 51 safety and health violations following workplace accidents that hospitalized two employees earlier in the year. At that time, Aluminum Shapes management argued that the new OSHA fee structure “results in higher fine amounts and unfair media attention, even as conditions improve.” The total penalty for the 51 violations was $1.9 million as fines for repeat violations have increased from $70,000 per infraction to $124,709 per under the new fine structure.
OSHA fines and penalties increased 78% in the fall of 2016 after legislation took effect which required federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation. The last update to OSHA’s penalty/fine structure occurred in 1990, so this recent jump reflects 26 years without increase or update.
The layoff announcement included 51 unionized workers, 6 front-office staffers, and 4 front-office managers. This affects about 13 percent of the company’s 367 unionized workers. Aluminum Shapes LLC had recently grown from 376 to 480 employees.