Chattanooga, TN – Two workers performing maintenance on a sewer line in Chattanooga were injured in a confined space explosion this week. The two men were employees of SpectraShield, a subcontractor used by the City of Chattanooga.
The men were down in a manhole when the flash fire broke out, they were able to escape the confined space and call for help. Firefighters were dispatched, the fire was already out when they arrived. Tennessee’s OSHA division is involved in the investigation into the cause of the accident.
One worker suffered minor burns but was not hospitalized. The other was transported to a local hospital to be treated for second-degree burns.
Canton, OH – A Fresh Mark employee died recently after his leg was caught in a waste grinder. Ohio’s Stark County Coroner’s Office stated that 62-year-old Samuel Martinez stepped into a chute and was caught in a waste grinder at the meat processing plant outside of Cleveland. Authorities say he died at the scene.
Fresh Mark Inc. supplies grocery stores, restaurants, and food service companies with bacon, ham, hot dogs and deli meats.
Fresh Mark officials are working with authorities to determine the cause of the accident.
Machine safety is crucial to workplace safety. Machine Safety and Lockout Tagout procedures, training, and awareness save lives, maintain production schedules, and keep machinery operational on a daily basis and are the foundation of a safe and efficient workplace.
Singapore – MW Group faces a $200,000 fine resulting from a fatal workplace electrocution. Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower has ruled that a professional Arc Flash Risk Assessment and safe work procedures could have prevented the 2013 fatal electrocution of a worker at the MW Group Pte Ltd’s Pantech Business Hub.
Following a five day trial, MW Group Pte Ltd was convicted for workplace safety and health lapses. The director of the local Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate stated that the employer knew that the technicians were exposed to the risk of electrocution, yet MW Group failed to provide workers with a step-by-step guide on how to do the job safely.
On the day of the electrocution, a MW Group employee was asked to test and calibrate the ARS machine. The worker held a high voltage probe to test the ARS from 2kV to 12kV and during the test he fell backwards and became unconscious. He died later that day, with the cause of death certified as electrocution.
MW Group, an equipment calibration and testing company, is being fined for failing to conduct a specific risk assessment and establish safe work procedures for the calibration and testing of an arc reflection system (ARS) machine. Safety investigations revealed that although MW Group had conducted a generic risk assessment for electrical testing prior to the accident and electrocution was identified as the only hazard, no control measures were put in place. The Energy Market Authority, in its investigations into the accident, concluded that no proper test fixtures were set up before the start of the high voltage calibration works. Additionally, it was determine that the worker did not maintain a safe working distance of approximately 1.5m from the “live” terminals.
The Ministry of Manpower stated that as the DC output voltage level of the ARS gradually increased, this difference between the worker’s body and the probe to test the ARS he was holding resulted in a flashover, or arc flash – a dangerous type of electrical explosion.
Singapore’s director of occupational safety and health inspectorate said that “The employer knew that the technicians were exposed to the risk of electrocution…yet failed to provide the technicians with a step-by-step guide on how to do the job safely.”
Fostoria, OH – The amputations and injuries that resulted from inadequate lockout tagout procedures and practices at a northwestern Ohio vinyl tile manufacturer have now also resulted in over half a million dollars in fines for federal safety violations.
Nox Corporation has been cited for five “willful” and two “serious” violations related to inadequate lockout tagout procedures. OSHA issued Nox $514,236 in fines on Dec 21, 2017 and has placed the corporation on its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
An investigation into the South Korean vinyl tile manufacturer was triggered by two incidents in 2017 and led to the discovery of eight machine safety violations. One employee required surgery after a tile machine crushed his hand, and shortly afterward, an employee suffered partial amputations of two fingers while working on a recycle material system.
OSHA cited Nox Corp for failing to use adequate lockout/tagout procedures and devices to prevent unintentional machine movement, failure to train employees, and exposing employees to fall hazards. Nox has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
In a statement from OSHA’s Toledo office, the area director stated that “when dangerous machines are not properly guarded or de-energized, employees face an increased risk of serious injuries…Employers must monitor their facilities continuously to ensure workplace safety and health procedures are adequate and effective.”
Auburn, New South Wales – Craig Tanner (42), father of three, was killed in a tragic lockout accident at an industrial ink manufacturer in West Sydney, Australia. Two other workers were hospitalized after also being trapped in the vat of ink. The three workers were cleaning the ink vat as part of a routine maintenance check when they became stuck at the DIC Australia Ink factory.
The men became trapped when a mixing blade unexpectedly started up while the tank was being cleaned at the factory. Tanner was working at DIC as a contractor. He was inside and cleaning the tank when the blade started moving and cut into his legs.
The vat was a cylinder shape, about 26 feet high with a mixing blade inside. Rescuers used manhole access at the bottom of the of the confined space to reach the workers. “Ink slush” at the bottom of the vat plus the confined nature of the space made the rescue extremely difficult. It took four hours to free the men who were covered in black ink, which further complicated their rescue and treatment.
A thorough investigation will be made to identify cause(s) of the accident, with special attention paid to how the mixing arm of the large vat accidentally switched on when the men were inside it at the time.
Benson, MN – Minnesota safety regulators are investigating the death of a worker who fell into a hopper last week at the Benson Power plant in central Minnesota. The Benson biomass plant supplies power to Xcel Energy and has previously been fined by OSHA for hazardous energy concerns.
Rescue personnel arrived and administered lifesaving measures on the scene, and the victim was later transported to a local hospital where he died. Authorities have yet to release the man’s name.
The Benson (MN) facility (previously known as FibroMinn) was fined several times in the past for OSHA violations, including a $1,050 fee in 2012 for inadequate hazardous energy control and another $11,000 fine in 2012 for not providing employee right-to know information and poorly storing flammable liquids and exposed wiring.
Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) and Hazardous Energy Control or Control of Hazardous Energy all refer 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.
Benson Power burns turkey manure and wood chips to generate power for Xcel Energy, but is expected to shut down soon as a cost saving measure. MN state utility regulators approved Xcel’s plan to close the 55-megawatt Benson plant and two other biomass electricity generators. Xcel anticipates that the buyout will lead to long-term savings of $345 million.
Jeffersonville, IN – Lockout procedures and lockout training could have saved the life of former Autoneum employee Melissa Stephens. That’s the finding of the Indiana arm of OSHA which found five safety violations following the employee death in October at Autoneum’s Jeffersonville (IN) facility. The automotive manufacturer has been fined $224,000 for violations which IOSHA believes were entirely preventable: “had the appropriate safety precautions been in place, the fatality would not have occurred.”
Additional violations were classified as those with a “high probability of death or serious harm,” and totaled $14,000: failure to establish and maintain safe work conditions through employees’ exposure to being caught in rotating machine parts due to loose clothing; and lack of effective training on hazardous power sources, such as power from moving belts, that could cause employees to become caught or pinched by machinery.
Melissa Stephens (age 44) died after an incident with a machine at the Jeffersonville plant on Oct. 21, 2017. Preliminary cause of her death was ruled multiple blunt force trauma.
Autoneum is a Swiss-based company that manufactures GM and Ford parts and specializes in vehicle acoustic and thermal management systems. They have 50 locations in more than 20 countries and employ over 11,000 people.
Downingtown, PA – OSHA has fined US Environmental Inc more than $333,000 for willful violations of basic worker protections. Employees were found to be exposed to confined space and fall hazards. Federal workplace safety violations included one “other than serious” violations, four “willful” violations, and seven “serious violations.”
OSHA first investigated US Environmental Inc in the spring of 2017 and found that the company’s Downingtown (PA) facility did not follow basic safety protocol on several counts, including failure to implement rescue procedures for employees in confined spaces; provide protective equipment (PPE) when working in confined spaces; and provide employees with fall protection training and equipment.
Willful violations are noted as those in which OSHA determines that the employer either knowingly failed to comply, purposefully disregarded, or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.
While confined spaces are not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. A confined space has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy. Confined spaces may include tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ducts and pipelines, among others.
US Environmental Inc is an industrial energy services corporation serving multiple secotrs including petroleum, natural gas, petro-chemical, power, chemical, manufacturing and engineering. As stated by the OSHA Area Office Director, “It is fortunate that workers did not suffer serious injuries or worse” at this location.
Bellevue, NE – Bimbo Bakeries USA faces $122,625 in proposed penalties for exposing workers to multiple hazards at its Bellevue commercial bakery. Federal workplace safety investigators cited the Bellevue facility for three repeat and three serious violations, since they had cited Bimbo twice before for similar hazards. Violations included lack of machine guarding, failing to provide fall protection and using a damaged electrical panel box.
Industrial machinery must be routinely inspected. 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. This includes mechanical parts, safety switches, emergency stops and guards, etc. Effectiveness of electrical components should also be assessed regularly for the safety of workers.
Martin Technical is aware that machine safety solutions must not hinder production or reduce the capacity of a machine and a facility’s production.
During a machine safety inspection, each individual machine is registered. Defects are detected and recorded, photos taken and safety hazard discussed with the staff involved so we attain agreement on any suggested solution. After a machine safety inspection, Martin Technical delivers a report outlining the various deficiencies including photo documentation and a description of necessary changes. Many of our industrial customers use this report as a foundation from which staff can implement safety solutions.
Rugby, UK – Acenta Steel Limited has been fined £400,000 for a 2016 industrial accident in which a worker’s leg was crushed in the vice of an industrial band saw. An investigation by the local health and safety team discovered that safety guards fitted to the band saw when it was installed at the factory had been removed.
The Rugby Borough Council prosecuted and found that Acenta Steel had failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment of operating the machine without safety guards. In a written submission to the investigating officer, Acenta stated the safety guards had been removed from the band saw in order to avoid steel being caught on an overhead gantry and that the machine’s sensor rarely needed cleaning.
However, in the course of the investigation, the prosecution observed that the band saw suffered a sensor fault around four times a year. Acenta had having previously stated it was unaware of the problem which suggested to the prosecution that there was a failure to monitor the machine’s performance.
During the hearing, details of the industrial accident were brought to light. Returning to the factory floor after a break, the worker found the band saw’s warning light flashing red, indicating it had stopped working due to a fault. After consulting with a colleague, the worker believed the machine’s sensor had become blocked by steel filings and he climbed on to the band saw to clear it.
Unfortunately, while clearing the sensor, the worker noticed the machine’s vice had started moving and his leg had become trapped. The worker called out to colleagues for help, but by the time the emergency stop button had been pressed to cut power to the machine he had suffered several fractures to his leg.
Acenta Steel Limited pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees.