Flooring Company Accused of Concealing Production Line, Facing nearly $250K in Fines

Norfolk, NE – MP Global Products LLC faces $244,000 in fines and has been placed on OSHA’s severe violator list after allegedly concealing an entire production line and possibly a group of employees during an OSHA inspection.

OSHA Investigators said they found several machines throughout the facility that lacked safety guards, exposing workers to potential injury. They also said they found numerous electrical safety hazards, including exposed electrical wires and damaged electrical boxes

MP Global Products has been cited for more than two dozen safety violations, including two willful and 22 serious violations after a 65-year-old temporary worker last spring caught his left hand in a machine, amputating one finger and severely injuring another, federal authorities said

During the investigation, the Norfolk (NE) flooring company allegedly attempted to conceal hazardous equipment and threatened workers with dismissal if they expressed safety concerns to federal inspectors. OSHA representatives were investigating an accident that resulted in the loss of a worker’s finger.

When inspectors arrived at MP Global Products LLC, the company allegedly “shut down an entire production line, turned the lights off and herded employees into the backroom where they were instructed to remain quiet during OSHA’s inspection,” Jeff Funke, OSHA’s Omaha director said. Funke alleged the company’s actions were a “willful attempt to prevent inspectors from discovering numerous machine safety violations in the plant.”

Al Collison, the company’s founder, owner and president, said the firm plans to dispute OSHA’s claims when it meets with authorities Sept. 15. “There are a lot of allegations that are not accurate,” he told The World-Herald. “That particular line was not running that day. We did not ‘herd’ people into another room. We don’t have environments dangerous to employees. We’ve been in business for 40 years.”

MP Global uses recycled materials to manufacture products for use beneath laminate, tile and hardwood flooring.

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Waste Combustion Firm Fined for OSHA Violations

Bristol, PA – An OSHA inspection at Covanta’s Bristol (PA) incinerator found 16 serious violations of workplace safety and health standards. The waste combustion facility is facing a $80,000 fine for dangerous workplace practices. energy-from-waste, waste-to-energy plant, waste combustion

The investigation was spurned by an employee complaint to OSHA. The violations include toxic metals in ash, the dangers of falls or working in confined spaces, and electrical and mechanical hazards.

In its finding, OSHA said Covanta “needlessly exposed its employees to the hazards of electrocution, fire, falls, slips and trips, crushing, being trapped or overcome in a confined space, eye injuries and cancer, lung or kidney damage.”

In July 2011, it also paid a $400,000 fine penalty after its Connecticut burn plant sent toxic dioxins into the air. It also paid a dioxin emissions fine in 2009.

The company said it intended to contest the OSHA’s findings. “The health and safety of employees is our priority at Covanta so we take the recent citations at our Bristol facility very seriously,” said a spokesman. “We have reviewed the citations closely and have filed a notice to contest because we disagree with the assertions made by the OSHA.”

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American Air Filter Fined for Machine Safety and LOTO Failures

Atlanta, GA – OSHA has fined American Air Filter Co. Inc. $119,900 for allegedly failing to provide proper machine guarding to protect employees from amputation hazards and not following safety procedures to prevent unexpected startup of machinery during maintenance and servicing, known as Lockout/Tagout.

These violations have landed American Air Filter on the OSHA‘s Severe Violator List “for demonstrating indifference to its OSH Act obligations to provide a safe and healthful workplace for employees.”

Having equipment specific lockout procedures written for each piece of equipment is required by OSHA, and is the cornerstone of a compliant lockout/tagout program. The 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 startup or energization of machinery and equipment, as well as preventing the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.

“This is the second significant enforcement action we’ve conducted at AAF International in the last six months,” said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East Area Office. “We found the same type of hazards during a recent inspection in a different area at the same plant. Management continues to allow workers to clean equipment without following safety procedures and without guards being properly installed.”

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Worker Loses 4 Fingers, OSHA Finds $74K in Violations

Jackson, MO – On Aug. 17, 2015, OSHA cited DW Wahlco Tool Inc for one repeated and 12 serious safety and health violations, including a lack of machine safety guards. Inspectors went to Wahlco to investigate how a 54-year-old employee lost four fingers using a machine at the facility. Wahlco had been cited in 2013 for not having machine safety guards, which OSHA said could have prevented the March 19 amputation. Proposed penalties total $74,480.

Inspectors also found the company failed to train employees about machine hazards and combustible dust; did not turn off machinery before servicing; lacked housekeeping to control dust; operated an inadequate respiratory control program; and did not provide protective equipment for employees working with energized electrical parts.

The OSHA investigation found fire hazards that could have caused an explosion. Any combustible material can burn rapidly when in a finely divided form, according to OSHA, and even materials that do not burn in larger pieces can be explosive in dust form under certain conditions. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors found “extensive combustible dust and potential sources of ignition” at D.W. Wahlco Tool.

“One worker suffered a life-altering injury, and excessive combustible dust at Wahlco made for a disaster waiting to happen,” Bill McDonald, OSHA’s area director in St. Louis, said in the release. “For the second time in two years, the company intentionally disregarded OSHA standards and requirement for machine safety — an unacceptable practice.”

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Arc Flash Injures 2 in FL, Shuts Down Cogen Facility

Indiantown, FL – Two workers have been injured in an electrical arc flash accident and fire at the Indiantown Cogeneration Facility in Martin County, Florida. The incident occurred in a motor control center around 8:40 a.m. Both workers were hospelectrical arc flashitalized for injuries incurred during the arc flash and resulting fire.

The facility is out of service while officials investigate the equipment to determine the cause of the electrical 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.

Temperatures may exceed 35,000° F (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 / blast will likely vaporize all solid copper conductors which will expand up to 67,000 times its original volume when it is vaporized. The arc flash / blast produces fire, intense light, pressure waves and produces flying shrapnel.

There are a variety of reasons why an Arc Flash can occur, but most of them are human error and preventable. 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 lack of electrical safety training are just some of the events 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.

Understanding arc flash compliance is often complicated. OSHA mandates that employers identify electrical hazards, warn employees about the hazards and provide them proper protection and training regarding the hazards. While OSHA tells you “what to do” for arc flash, they don’t tell you “how” to do it. The role of NFPA 70E, IEEE 1584 and NEC is to provide guidance on “how” to properly implement the OSHA regulations.

For further information on arc flash compliance requirements and how it impacts your organization, please contact an expert on Martin Technical’s Safety & Compliance Team, or request a quote through our webpage. At Martin Technical, we genuinely care about people and look forward to bringing our professional expertise in Arc Flash analysis, labeling, and training to your facility and employees.

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$6Mil Settlement in Bumble Bee Accident Felony Case, No Jail Time for Plant Managers

Los Angeles, CA – Bumble Bee Foods will pay a record $6 million to settle criminal charges filed after a worker burned to death in a Lockout/Tagout accident at their Santa Fe Springs (CA) plant in 2012.

October 2012, 62-year-old Jose Melena was cooked to death insidaccident felony industrial ovene a Bumble Bee Foods industrial oven. Melena was making repairs inside the pressurized steam cooker when co-workers unwittingly loaded the oven with 12,000 pounds of tuna and turned it on. This failure in employee safety training and lockout/tagout procedures resulted in Melena being tragically and avoidably cooked to death. Felony charges were filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney in April 2015 – Bumble Bee Foods and two of its employees were charged with willfully violating safety rules and originally faced up to 3 years in prison.

This six million dollar settlement represents the largest payout in the criminal prosecution of a workplace safety case involving a single victim in California, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Under the settlement agreements, Bumble Bee will spend $3 million to buy new ovens at its Santa Fe Springs plant. The new ovens will not require that employees enter the machines, and Bumble Bee will be required to implement further safety measures. They will also pay $1.5 million in restitution to the family of victim Jose Melena, $750,000 to the district attorney’s environmental enforcement fund, and another $750,000 in additional fines, penalties and court costs.

Once it complies with those conditions, Bumble Bee (which is owned by private equity firm Lion Capital LLP) will be allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge, according to the district attorney’s office.

“While this resolution will help bring closure with the district attorney’s office, we will never forget the unfathomable loss of our colleague Jose Melena and we are committed to ensuring that employee safety remains a top priority at all our facilities,” Bumble Bee said in a written statement.

The plant’s director of operations, Angel Rodriguez, has agreed to perform 320 hours of community service, pay $11,400 in fines and other penalties and take workplace safety classes. If he completes those conditions he will be allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor rather than serving 3 years in prison.

Under a separate agreement, Saul Florez, the plant’s former safety manager, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to criminal safety violations and was sentenced to three years probation. Florez was also ordered to complete 30 days of community labor, attend safety classes and pay $19,000 in fines. Upon completion of those conditions he will be eligible to have his felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor, prosecutors said.

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Case Farms Goes on OSHA’s Severe Violator List, Fines over $860,000

Winesburg, OH – Case Farms chicken producing and processing company has been placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration after the agency issued more citations and $861,500 in fines this week.

Case Farms is the leading supplier of chicken to national fast food and supermarket brands. In its inspection, OSHA found that Case Farms employees “are exposed to the dangers of amputation, electrocution, and hazardous falls on a daily basis.”

Case Farms was issued two willful, 20 repeat, 30 serious, and three other-than-serious safety and health violations. The violations stem from an inspection in February that found amputation hazards, lack of personal protective equipment, and numerous violations of electrical safety standards, among other violations.

In a press release, Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA stated:“Case Farms is an outrageously dangerous place to work. In the past 25 years, Case Farms has been cited for more than 350 safety and health violations. Despite committing to OSHA that it would eliminate serious hazards, Case Farms continues to endanger the safety and health of its workers. This simply must stop.”

Case Farms issued the following statement in response: “We do not agree with the negative characterizations that have been made about our company and our employees” by OSHA. The company said it has 930 employees at the Winesburg facility, and its last lost-time injury there was on Sept. 16, 2014.

Despite this safety record, an OSHA representative said the agency’s investigation determined that “the company was aware of the dangers, but continued to expose workers to serious and potentially fatal injuries.”

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IL Electronic Supplier Fined for Respiratory and Electrical Hazards

Elk Grove Village, IL – Bigston Corporation is facing OSHA fines nearing $45,000 for exposing workers to various respiratory and electrical hazards. During an inspection in March, OSHA found that Bigston failed to test its full-face respirators and to train workers on how to wear them.electrical hazard

Bigston Corporation supplies, repairs, and assembles consumer electronics products. They were cited for 13 safety and health violations, including 11 that OSHA described as “serious” because the hazard could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm.

OSHA inspectors observed workers with facial hair wearing respirators and workers wearing respirators over their hooded uniforms. Both scenarios prevent the respirators from sealing properly and therefore expose workers to harmful dust. The company also failed to ensure electrical equipment was safe and exposed workers to concentrations of chemicals higher than allowed limits.

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OSHA Fines for Lockout Tagout Neglect at Ohio Plastics Plant

Bellevue, OH – Wilbert Plastic Services has been cited for 10 safety and health violations, including lockout tagout and PPE failures. These failures resulted in one injured employee, and $48,900 in proposed penalties.

OSHA‘s Toledo office conducted an inspection in May after a 36-year-old worker suffered burns to his face, eyes, and hands as he was cleaning a mold in a press. The OSHA representative stated that the injuries occurred because preventive procedures were not taken to stop the machine from releasing hot plastic during maintenance. These procedures are known as Lockout/Tagout.lockout tagout injection mold plastic

The company was cited for serious violations including a lack of personal protective equipment to prevent burns and falls; failure to comply with machine safety procedures such as locking devices and neutralizing equipment; failure to train employees in machine safety; employee exposure to falling situations when accessing press parts; and failure to keep floors in dry and safe conditions.

Wilbert Plastic Services in Bellevue (OH) operates a plastic-injection molding plant and manufactures parts for Ford and Whirlpool. They employ 325 workers at the Bellevue (OH) plant.

Martin Technical’s Rapid LOTO Lockout Program is the most advanced and comprehensive program in the industry. We leverage our experience in maintenance and safety with today’s technologies to provide a robust system designed for ease of implementation and easy to understand. Contact an expert on our Safety & Compliance Team today to discuss your needs, or request a quote for services.

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Arc Flash Explosion Injures 3 in West Virginia

Alloy, WV – Three workers have been hospitalized after an arc flash explosion at the West Virginia Alloy Plant, outside of Montgomery, WV. Two had flash arc burns to their hands, and one suffered burns to the face.

The employees were in the basement of an aluminum-sided building when they struck a power source. Sources said the men suffered from arc flash burns. According to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, “the intense heat and light emitted from an arc flash can cause severe burns, destroying skin and tissue. An arc flash can ignite or melt clothing, resulting in further burns. Victims sometimes require skin grafts or amputations. Death is more likely with increased severity of burns, the percent of body area affected and age.”

Although the plant is not commenting right now on what caused the accident, Captain Jim Sizemore with the Fayette County Sheriffs Department is stating that electrical transformers at the plant blew.

The West Virginia alloy plant, in Alloy, West Virginia produces silican. According to the company’s website they are one of the world’s largest producers of silicon metal, silicon-based specialty alloys and silicon fume — critical ingredients in a host of industrial and consumer products with growing markets.

 

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