Dublin, UK – One worker has died and another is seriously ill after a confined space accident approximately 20ft below a housing estate in Portmarnock County, a suburb of Dublin. The men were employees of the drainage and cleaning company DrainTech, and were overcome by fumes while working in a sewer. The sewer was located in a residential area of Portmarnock called Drumnigh Woods.
Authorities confirmed two men were taken from the sewer, one of whom was pronounced dead at Beaumont Hospital while the second was said to be in a serious condition. Three members of Dublin Fire Brigade were also treated following the rescue efforts – two as a precaution for noxious gases and one who suffered a minor injury in the operation.
Two inspectors from the HSA were sent to the scene and an investigation has been launched into the circumstances surrounding the deaths by the Garda and the HSA. Their inquiries center on whether the men inhaled lethal fumes while working in underground pipes and sewerage systems. Fire crews reported the difficulty of the conditions that the men were working in, a confined space, below ground and at risk of dangerous gases.
The DrainTech company operates mostly in the Dublin region and has been in business for more than 20 years with staff qualified in confined space and deep manhole entry.
Los Alamos, NM – An electrical worker at the Los Alamos National Laboratory was knocked off a ladder in an arc flash incident, and remains hospitalized. Working in a radiological lab building on May 3, Julian Trujillo accidentally touched a live wire in a ceiling. The man is badly burned but in stable condition, at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. Trujillo and eight co-workers were injured that day when an electrical arc flash occurred while the crew was maintaining a substation.
A series of electrical incidents and accidents at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have drawn scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Energy. Los Alamos National Security LLC, is a consortium that oversees the nuclear weapons research facility under contract with the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
The Energy Department’s Office of Enterprise Assessments will review potential violations in connection with recent electrical incidents, and a federal Accident Investigation Board will examine the May 3 incident as well as past accidents.
“The lab takes electrical safety very seriously, and is taking steps to strengthen safety culture,” lab spokesman Kevin Roark said. “We will work closely and cooperatively with the NNSA Office of Enforcement on their hazardous energy assessment investigation.”
Since 2003, the lab has had at least 11 electrical incidents, some with injuries.
• In March, at Technical Area 55, “an employee received an electric shock while tracing a 277-volt lighting conduit in the ceiling. The employee received a burn to his hand,” according to a lab accident report. All electrical maintenance work was shut down for two days, according to Roark.
• The NNSA investigated four electrical safety events at LANL between October 2010 and January 2011, according to documents. Two involved subcontractors, at least one of whom received a high-voltage electrical shock while doing maintenance on a power supply. Two other events involved Los Alamos National Security workers. “These incidents exposed workers to serious shock, thermal burn and arc-flash hazards,” according to an NNSA notice of violation issued to Los Alamos National Security.
• In 2007, the lab had three electrical equipment failures. No injuries were reported, but one building was evacuated.
• In 2006, a subcontract electrician using a cordless drill to drive in a self-tapping screw to the back of a control center hit a 480-volt system and caused an arc flash. The worker suffered a minor injury.
• In 2003, two subcontractors working on a decontamination project unknowingly came within inches of a live 13.2-kilovolt switch, violating safe-distance standards. Neither subcontractor was injured, but if an electrical arc had occurred, “it would have triggered an explosion and plasma fireball” that would have “incinerated anything within 15 feet,” according to a lab performance report.
• Also in 2003, a lab machinist shocked his upper arm on a welder cart that had been wired incorrectly by a subcontractor. He had minor injuries.
BROKEN ARROW, OK – Alfa Laval Inc. faces $477,900 in proposed penalties after U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspections discovered dozens of serious workplace safety violations, five of which were identified in previous inspections.
Federal investigators found five repeated and 45 serious violations on a range of health and safety issues at the company’s Broken Arrow facility, including inadequate protection of workers from machinery, a lack of respiratory equipment, lack of training for hazardous chemicals, and failure to maintain written plans for fire protection and emergency management. Alfa Laval also had no procedure to prevent machines from starting during maintenance or service. These procedures are known as Lockout/Tagout.
OSHA levied a $218,500 penalty for the repeated violations that it had cited the employer for in 2010 and 2011, and an additional $259,400 for the serious violations. OSHA has placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
A global provider of heat transfer, centrifugal separation and fluid handling products, Alfa Laval employs about 18,000 employees at locations worldwide, and approximately 220 people at the Oklahoma facility. The company serves industries that produce food and beverages, chemicals and petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, starch, sugar and ethanol.
Puget Sound, WA – An investigation by the Washington Department of Labor & Industries has cited and fined two Puget Sound-area companies for 19 safety and health violations each, finding that temporary workers were entering fuel tanks with no controls in place to ensure their health and safety.
Inspections began last October after the state Department of Ecology notified L&I that workers were entering the fuel tanks to clean and service them but that no safety procedures were being used when working in the tanks.
These fuel tanks are 20′ long, 8′ wide, and 8′ tall, with a 20-inch entry hatch on top. In order to clean inside the tanks, workers climbed through the hatch and down a 6-foot stepladder. Entering fuel tanks exposes workers to confined space hazards that can include suffocation, toxic atmospheres, engulfment, entrapment or other dangerous conditions. Additionally, confined space hazards endanger rescue personnel.
The companies fined are Smarttalent LLC., of Kirkland, and Innovative Repairs, of Fife, WA. Smarttalent is a temporary staffing agency that provides workers to Innovative Repairs, which in turn services fuel tanks and containers for mining operations in Alaska. Smarttalent was fined $120,400, and Innovative Repairs has been fined $46,200.
Bellefontaine, OH – OSHA inspectors found that HBD/Thermoid Inc., a rubber-hose manufacturer in Ohio, continues to put workers at risk of amputations and serious injuries by ignoring safety rules for industrial machines.
HBD/Thermoid was cited for one willful and 10 serious safety violations and faces $134,000 in proposed penalties as a result of the October 2104 inspection. The inspection was opened under OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. In May 2014, a worker was killed after being caught in an industrial machine at the company’s North Carolina location.
Kim Nelson, area director of OSHA’s Toledo office, shared the staggering data that “each year, more than 200,000 workers are injured by machines in the United States. Each day, an average of 12 workers are killed on-the-job. Employees and their families pay the painful price emotionally and economically when companies don’t follow standards to reduce injuries.”
The willful violation was cited for failing to protect workers from the operating parts of hose balers and hose feed equipment during the manufacturing process. Workers were also found to be in danger of amputation because machines were not shut down properly before repair and maintenance – a process known as Lockout/Tagout.
A total of 10 serious safety violations were issued. HBD/Thermoid machines were also found being operated without proper safety devices. Additionally, inspectors noted that work platforms and elevator shafts lacked adequate guardrails to protect workers from falls; electrical parts were not de-energized prior to performing work; and personal protective equipment to safeguard workers from electrical shock was not provided.
HBD/Thermoid employs about 1,000 workers corporatewide and manufactures hoses used in a variety of industries, such as transportation, food processing and agriculture.
Grantsburg, WI – An OSHA investigation into the death of a Burnett Dairy Cooperative employee identified two willful and eight serious safety violations at the Wisconsin dairy.
In November of 2014, a Burnett Dairy employee was attempting to unclog a sump when he was engulfed by corn and died in a grain bin. OSHA inspectors found that Burnett Dairy did not follow safety standards for entering grain bins. In a press release, OSHA said the company failed to deactivate a drag conveyor and allowed the worker to be in the bin while the corn was moving.
According to OSHA, the inspection found Burnett Dairy exposed the worker to engulfment hazards by not following required grain handling and Lockout/Tagout energy control procedures. OSHA also said the company violated confined space regulations by failing to have an attendant trained in confined space rescue for the worker while inside the grain bin.
Mark Hysell, OSHA’s area director in Eau Claire, said it takes just “seconds to become trapped in flowing grain…Burnett Dairy is familiar with the precautions to protect its workers, but failed to follow them. Life or limb should never be the cost of doing business.”
OSHA proposed penalties of $193,200 and placed the company in its Sever Violator Enforcement Program.
Westover, MD – A contract worker was electrocuted and another injured in an industrial accident at a power plant within Maryland’s largest correctional facility, the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover.
The victims were employees of General Electric and contracted by Maryland Environmental Services, the operator of the co-generation power plant at the estimated 3,200-inmate medium security facility. The wood-chip burning power plant is about 30 years old, and the GE workers were contracted to perform an extensive electrical control upgrade at ECI.
The electrocuted worker was a field service engineer who received an electric shock and subsequently died. It was unknown whether the employee died at the scene. The injured worker was expected to be released from Peninsula Regional Medical Center, after being briefly hospitalized for possible anxiety-related circumstances.
There were no other injuries, and a prison official said neither ECI correctional staff members nor inmates were in the area of the accident. The accident posed minimum interruption to operations at Maryland’s largest prison, and officials said inmate security was never compromised.
As procedure, the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health agency (MOSH) is at the prison conducting an investigation.
Detroit, MI – Detroit Police have confirmed the death of a 53-year-old worker this week at an FCA US (formerly Chrysler) plant. Police initially said the man was crushed, a Detroit Fire official said the man died as a result of his injuries. Donald Megge was performing preventive maintenance in a wastewater treatment plant when he was caught in a machine press.
The United Automobile Workers identified the worker as Donald Megge of Sterling Heights, MI. Megge was a millwright and wastewater operator at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant that makes the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs. The accident occurred shortly after he started work on the morning shift, the union said.
An UAW spokesman said Megge was performing regular preventive maintenance after starting his shift at at the wastewater treatment plant at 5:30 a.m, Tuesday May 5, 2015. He was discovered at about 6:30 a.m., according to the union’s statement. He was “caught in a machine press suspended a little bit above the ground,” said Detroit Fire Capt. Gerod Funderburg. Firefighters responded to the scene, but Megge was already dead when they arrived, Funderburg said.
The incident remains under investigation by state and federal health and safety officials, and union and company health and safety professionals. All three Detroit automakers and the UAW emphasize safety protocol for workers and visitors.
Blasdell, NY – Republic Steel faces $147,000 in fines after one of its workers suffered serious burns on the job. An employee of Republic Steel in Blasdell, NY was removing wiring from a fan motor in an overhead crane last October when an ungrounded electrical conductor touched a grounded surface causing an arc flash. The electric technician received third-degree burns on her hand and first-degree burns on her face as a result.
An investigation by the Buffalo area office of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that Republic Steel failed to provide and ensure the use of effective face and hand protection by its employees. “These injuries were avoidable”, said Michael Scime, OSHA’s area director. “Republic Steel has a responsibility to make sure that its electric technicians are properly trained, equipped with and using person protective equipment to protect from arc flash. In this case, that would include a face shield and rubber insulating gloves. The company should be especially aware of this, since OSHA cited Republic Steel earlier in 2014 for similar hazards at its Lorain, Ohio facility.”
OSHA cited Republic Steel for two repeat violations, each with proposed fines of $70,000 for the lack of hand and face protection. The company was also cited for one serious violation with a $7,000 fine for failing to protect employees against contact with energized electrical equipment.
Republic Steel disagrees with OSHA’s findings and has contested the citations in their entirety.
Neenah, WI – OSHA has proposed fines of nearly $50,000 for safety violations found at Clearwater Paper Corp. facility in Neenah, WI. Violations included a lack of procedures for the control of locking devices to prevent the operation of machinery during repairs, known as lockout tagout. The company was also cited for a lack of safety guards on operating machine parts.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration found nine serious violations during a December inspection of the paper mill, including those that present amputation risks. Matt Van Vleet, vice president of public affairs for the Spokane, Wash.-headquartered company, said they received notification of the violations on April 24, and company officials are in the process of review.
OSHA chose the Wisconsin mill for inspection based on its use of equipment that puts employees in danger of amputation. The administration has put an emphasis on reducing workplace machinery and equipment hazards. OSHA officials say the company and its union took immediate steps to address the issues raised during the inspection.
Clearwater Paper is the country’s largest producer of private-label tissue products, and its Wisconsin mill is one of 10 manufacturing facilities across the country.