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.
Santa Fe Springs, CA – In October 2012, 62-year-old Jose Melena was cooked to death inside an industrial oven at Bumble Bee Foods’ Santa Fe Springs (CA) plant. Felony charges have now been filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney – Bumble Bee Foods and two of its employees have been charged with willfully violating safety rules.
Prosecutors say that workers unaware Melena was making repairs inside the pressurized steam cooker loaded 12,000 pounds of tuna into it and turned it on. This failure in employee safety training and lockout/tagout procedures resulted in Melena being tragically and avoidably cooked to death. During the two-hour heat sterilization process, the oven’s internal temperature rose to about 270 degrees. Melena’s severely burned remains were discovered by a coworker.
Bumble Bee Foods could be fined up to $1.5 million, and the plant’s director of operations and former safety manager could get three years in prison each. The two Bumble Bee employees involved face a maximum sentence of three years in state prison and/or a $250,000 fine if convicted. “Prosecutors and investigators from [the LA County DA’s] office have begun rolling out to major industrial incidents involving serious worker injuries and death,” DA Jackie Lacey says in a statement. “Our goal is to enhance the criminal prosecution of workplace safety violations.” Bumble Bee says it is “disappointed by the charges.”
Wyoming, MI – Grand Rapids Plastics Inc. faces $558,000 in fines following inspection by state OSHA regulators investigating the June 2014 death of worker killed while cleaning inside a machine. Russell Scharenbroch, father of six, was fatally crushed at Grand Rapids Plastics in a horizontal injection molding machine that was not properly locked out.
OSHA found that the Michigan-based injection molder did not enforce the use of lockout/tagout safety procedures prior to the 34-year-old victim entering the mold cavity. “The machine was left in automatic mode while the employee was inside, and another employee cycled the machine,” the OSHA report says.
Grand Rapids Plastics was cited for three willful serious violations related to this death and fined $70,000 for each offense, which included inadequate employee training and not using lock-out devices on the molding machine and a pick-and-place conveyor. Two other fines of $5,000 each were assessed for not having machine guards at the front and rear gates of injection molding machines and not developing lock-out safety procedures, bringing the initial penalties to $220,000.
A second companion inspection of the company, which has five buildings, was conducted a few days later. That investigation “was opened because MIOSHA discovered a pattern of employees entering machines while the machines were still energized and because many other safety hazards were observed,” the MIOSHA report says.
State inspectors slapped the company with an additional 49 violations, including six considered willful serious, and penalties of $338,000. The penalties and violations ranged from $1,500 for an employee wearing unapproved prescription glasses with homemade side shields while operating a drill press, bench grinder and lathe all the way up to $70,000 for not training the employee supervising the injection molding operations in lock-out safety.
These findings and fines put Grand Rapids Plastics into the federal Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses on employers “who have demonstrated indifference” to their safety obligations. “The comprehensive companion inspection has two or more willful violations based on high-gravity serious violations related to the high-emphasis hazard of amputations,” the MIOSHA report states.
From 2011-14, Grand Rapids Plastics was cited a total of 10 times for serious and other-than-serious violations and fined a total of $31,250. Founded in 1976, Grand Rapids Plastics produces plastic parts for the automotive, home, sporting, electronics and construction industries.
Miamisburg, OH – The electrocution death of a welder at a Cohen Brothers subsidiary facility in October 2014 has resulted in one willful and eight serious safety OSHA electrical safety violations.
Metal Shredders, a subsidiary of Cohen Brothers, located in Middletown, Ohio has been issued proposed penalties of $115,000 by the Occupational Health & Safety Administration. These fines follow an investigation initiated by OSHA after the electrocution of a Metal Shredders maintenance worker.
On Oct. 16, 2014, Geff Garnett attempted to enter a substation by climbing over a concrete wall and fence on the side of the transformer substation. His foot touched the electrical line, which was still energized, and was electrocuted.
OSHA found Metal Shredders failed to protect the welder from an energized electrical line while he was cutting a metal roof off an industrial transformer substation at the facility. The failure resulted in the death of the employee. OSHA investigators found Metal Shredders failed to verify that electrical lines were absent of voltage after turning off the disconnect switch inside the transformer substation cabinet, resulting in a willful violation. Obviously this kind of tragic accident could have been avoided if the materials being used had been checked properly, but it’s also a good idea to look at getting the best mild sheets to ensure safety even further.
Cohen Brothers were also issued three serious safety violations for failing to train employees in electrical safe work practices, the proposed penalties of which total $21,000.
“This was a tragic death that could have been prevented by following basic safety practices for working with high voltage transmission lines,” says Ken Montgomery, OSHA’s area director in Cincinnati. “Employers who work with high voltage electricity must train workers in recognizing hazards and proper procedures to de-energize lines, and ensure the working environment is safe. No workers should lose their life on the job.”
Cohen Brothers strongly disputes the citations. In an official statement, they’ve said, “(OSHA) issued incorrect and unfounded citations today against our company for the October accident that took the life of Geff Garnett…Safety is the core value of Cohen Recycling and we have a long-standing and recognized commitment to the health and safety of our employees.”
Elk Grove Village, IL – OSHA is investigating how a worker killed outside of Chicago this week when his clothing became caught in machinery. Wayne Follman, age 50, was injured and killed when his clothing became caught in machinery at a Acme Industries warehouse in Elk Grove Village, a suburb northwest of Chicago.
Crews responded to the accident at Acme Industries and discovered a deceased 50-year-old man in a warehouse, according to a statement from the Elk Grove Village police department.
OSHA has launched an investigation and sent a compliance officer to the scene. Acme Industries manufactures machines parts, assemblies and components, according to the company’s website.
Creighton, PA – Kolek Woodshop, Inc. has been cited by OSHA for ignoring electrocution hazards. The fatal electrocution of Andrew “CK” Sakala Jr. on a roofing job in September 2014 was the result of his using a non-approved aluminum ladder which made contact with a 7,200-volt power line. Kolek Woodshop sent a second employee to complete the job 72 hours later, exposing that person to the same conditions that resulted in the electrocution death of Sakala.
OSHA said it identified one willful violation because Kolek exposed the second employee to the same hazards after the fatality. The company also failed to report the fatality to OSHA. The western Pennsylvania-based roofing contractor now faces penalties of $67,900. Don’t fall into the trap and hire a ‘cheaper’ contractor to get the job done. The last thing you want are fatalities on site. You’ll find an abundant amount of roofing companies Austin who are more than likely happy to travel. You could check them out for your roofing requirements.
Christopher Robinson, director of OSHA’s Pittsburgh area office, said it was “alarming” for the second employee to be sent into the same potential danger: “The blatant disregard for worker safety demonstrated [in the Kolek case] is horrifying and completely despicable…This company’s failure to implement basic safeguards resulted in tragedy.”
Denver, CO – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Atlas Metal & Iron Corp. in Denver $58,000 after determining that the death of an employee in Sept 2014 could have been prevented. Failing to lockout the energized baling machine and assess the confined space properly are two of the violations that led to the fatality.
Abel Marmolejo, age 52, was killed as a result of a failure in lockout/tagout procedures – a scrap metal baler reactivated while he was working on it. In the inspection that followed the incident, OSHA investigators found 12 safety violations at the Atlas Metal & Iron Corp. facility. Atlas Metal & Iron operates a scrap metal drop off center for residential recycling.
“Enclosed machinery and unprotected moving parts can be fatal,” said Herb Gibson, OSHA’s area director in Denver. “If Atlas Metal & Iron Corp. had followed simple, well-known safety practices for turning off machinery before allowing employees to work inside, this tragic incident could have been prevented.”
WALLINGFORD, CT – R+L Carriers Shared Services LLC, located in Wallingford, CT is facing fines nearing $87,000 for serious OSHA violations. According to an OSHA press release, employees faced dangerous chemicals, fire and explosion hazards when they tried to contain a chemical spill without proper training and protective equipment in October of 2014.
OSHA investigators found that a 55 gallon drum of tetrahydrofuran being carried by a forklift from a truck accidentally punctured. R+L employees attempted to contain the spill by using absorbents and cordoning off the area. OSHA’s investigation found that company management lacked an emergency response plan and none of the employees were trained as first responders.
The investigation also found that the emergency plan did not include procedures for timely reporting on emergency events, no respiratory protection was provided, and there was no qualified person on-site to oversee the response. Additionally, it was also found that the forklift was not operated properly.
OSHA said they found two repeated and four serious violations in the course of investigation. The two repeated violations came from similar hazards cited by OSHA during a 2011 inspection of R+L Carriers Shared Services Chicago division.
Robert Kowalski, OSHA’s area director in Bridgeport, said “These workers were essentially defenseless. They did not know how to evaluate the hazards involved, what personal protective equipment to use and what steps to follow to contain the spill safely. Worse, no one present at the terminal did,” and “These deficiencies in emergency response by R+L Carriers put its employees at risk of death or serious injury.”