North Platte, NE – OSHA issued fines this week to Western Engineering Company Inc for violations found following an employee death. In 2018, a Western Engineering employee suffered fatal injuries after being pulled into an unguarded slat/drag conveyor at the company’s Nebraska asphalt plant.
In a statement, OSHA’s Omaha Area Office Director said that “Employers are required to develop safety and health programs that address known hazards and ensure that safety procedures are followed to prevent tragedies such as this from recurring.”
The confined space violations included failure to develop a confined space entry program; failure to issue safety permits; failure to test atmospheric conditions; and failure to provide air testing and monitoring equipment.
28-year-old Andrew Martinez (of Weslaco, TX) was fatally injured at Western Engineering’s North Platte (NE) facility in November of 2018 when he was pulled into an unguarded slat/drag conveyor on the job. On the day of the event, emergency workers were called to the plant for body recovery. Upon arrival, they discovered the Martinez pinned in the machinery and deceased.
If you have any concerns about safety at your facility, please contact the Industrial Safety Experts at Martin Technical. 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 simplify the complex by offering real-world solutions for Lockout/Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Machine Safety, Safety Consulting Services, and Employee Training.
Orlando, FL – A fatal combination of slip/fall and confined space hazards lead to the death of Harvest Power employee John Korody. Korody died after falling into a vat filled with oil and grease outside of Walt Disney World last month. The slip/fall hazard was compounded by overwhelming fumes surrounding the oil vat.
The accident happened at the Harvest Power facility that contracts with Disney World to recycle the resort’s food waste and convert it into renewable energy and fertilizers.
Two Harvest Power employees were emptying oil and grease byproduct from a semi-truck into a vat when Korody slipped on a grate and fell in. Korody’s co-worker tried to pull him to safety but fumes from the oil and grease byproduct overwhelmed both workers, and Korody slipped farther into the vat. Korody was pronounced dead at the scene, and the local Fire Department helped to recover his body.
OSHA estimates that about 90 deaths involving confined spaces occur every year in the US and unfortunately, two-thirds of those killed are workers attempting to rescue someone else from the confined space.
Many workplaces contain areas that are considered “confined spaces” because while they were 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 not designed for continuous occupancy. Such spaces include (but are not limited to) tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, vats, equipment housings, ductwork, and pipelines.
OSHA outlines national workplace safety standards for permit-required confined spaces and the serious hazards they post to American workers. In addition to the difficultly in accessing and exiting confined spaces, these sites are often inadequately ventilated and/or trap noxious air. Without proper training, signage, and hazard mitigation planning, confined space conditions can result in tragic fatalities.
Omaha, NE – In a 22-count indictment, Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services and its co-owners have been charged with falsifying OSHA documents and other federal worker safety violations which prosecutors say resulted in the deaths of two men in an April 2015 Omaha confined space accident.
The president of Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services (NRCS), Stephen Michael Braithwaite, and co-owner Adam Thomas Braithwaite, are charged with submitting false documents to a federal agency and violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Adam Braithwaite also is charged with perjury, according to the federal indictments.
An explosion killed two NRCS workers and injured a third on April 14, 2015 as they were clearing a rail tanker. NRCS tested the rail cars following the explosion and found the contents to be hazardous. U.S. Attorney Joseph Kelly alleges the Braithwaites and NRCS failed to implement worker safety standards, and then tried to cover up those shortfalls following the explosion.
Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General Wood stated that “protecting the health and safety of American workers at hazardous job sites is of paramount importance…The defendants in this case failed to live up to that responsibility, even falsifying documents to evade worker safety requirements. Tragically, employees at the defendants’ facility lost their lives while working in these unsafe conditions.”
Dallas Foulk and Adrian LaPour died in the 2015 confined space accident.
Aurora LaPoure, Adrian LaPoure’s mother, said her family feels a bit of relief, after hoping for justice all this time: “They violated a lot of codes, they did a lot of wrong and they killed two people,” she said. “I feel a lot of anger because this could have been prevented. Had the company done right and followed safety rules this could have been prevented. [Adrian] would still be here.”
Robert LaPoure, Adrian’s brother, hopes to see Stephen and Adam Braithwaite convicted: “I’m glad that something is finally being done. They’re going to be held accountable and hopefully justice will prevail,” he said.
OSHA regulations require air in confined spaces, like inside rail tankers, be tested for various gases including flammable and explosive fumes. According to the indictment, Stephen Braithwaite turned away federal safety inspectors in March 2015 and created documents to falsely show that NRCS had been purchasing equipment to test rail cars for the presence of benzene. The company was required to do this before sending rail cars to a landfill, but the indictment alleges that NRCS failed to do so.
Alhambra, CA – A foundry worker lost both legs last August after a coworker re-energized the machine he was working in. Alhambra Foundry has been fined $283,390 for federal workplace safety and health violations including lack of permit-required confined space program, inadequate machine-specific lockout procedures, missing accident prevention signage, and not having a confined space attendant monitoring his entry.
According to federal safety regulators, two Alhambra Foundry employees were cleaning and unblocking a 38-feet-long auger screw conveyor at the bottom hopper of an industrial air filtration device without effectively locking out the equipment. After the cleaning was done, one of the workers re-entered the 20-inch square opening to retrieve a work light from inside the confined space. Unfortunately, at that same time a maintenance worker 45 feet away energized the equipment to perform a test. The moving auger screw pulled the worker into the screw conveyor and both of his legs had to be amputated in order to get him free of the machine.
The Cal/OSHA Chief stated that “sending a worker into a confined space is dangerous, especially inside machinery that can be powered on at any time…Employers must ensure that machinery and equipment are de-energized and locked out before workers enter the space to perform operations involving cleaning and servicing.”
In their investigation, Cal/OSHA found that the screw conveyor was not de-energized and locked out before workers entered the hopper, and accident prevention signs were not placed on the controls. Alhambra Foundry lacked specific procedures for de-energizing and locking out the equipment and additionally, the worker re-entering the hopper was not monitored by a confined space attendant.
Unfortunately, Alhambra Foundry was cited for similar violations eight years ago and therefore were issued a willful serious accident-related violation for failing to take appropriate measures to protect workers performing cleaning and servicing operations.
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.
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.
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.
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. If toxic fumes become present in your workplace then you should find a solution to stop workers being killed or injured.
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.
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.”
Decatur, IN – One employee died and another has been hospitalized in a confined space accident at the Manley Meats facility in Decatur (IN) this week.
Emergency crews were called to Manley Meats for a report of two unresponsive people on Wednesday afternoon. A statement from the Adams County Coroner says that work was being done on a sewer pit when one or both people became unresponsive. One worker died and another was airlifted to a local hospital.
Many workplaces contain areas that are considered to be “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 not designed for continuous occupancy. They include, but are not limited to: tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ductwork, and pipelines.
Martin Technical confined space services are designed to keep workers safe, and help companies meet OSHA regulations. Our experts can evaluate your work site to determine which spaces require permits, develop a written program and specific procedures for entering each confined space.
Manley Meats offers catering, butchering, canning, and retail operations at its Decatur location.