Kentucky, USA- The family of a Kentucky man killed in a workplace incident has filed a lawsuit against his employer, GE Appliances, as well as other parties.
Steve Herring, who has worked for GE Appliances for more than two decades, died in February after being pinned by machinery while working on a refrigerator-building assembly line. News sources are reporting that the state OSHA’s investigation into the workplace incident found that it could have been caused by an inadvertent activation of an improperly positioned gate interlock control.
The lawsuit filed in Jefferson Circuit Court last week names General Electric Company, Design Safety Engineering Inc., Doerfer Corperation, Doerfer Acquisition Company, JR Automation Technologies LLC, Haier US Appliance Solutions Inc. and Kentucky resident Mark Miller as defendants.
The lawsuit claims that the assembly line Herring was working on was “unreasonably dangerous” and in “defective condition.” It alleges that there were no instructions or warnings about the hazards on the line — and that the companies being sued were aware of the defects. The suit requests punitive and compensatory damages.
According to Kentucky OSHA, GE made changes to the safety programming on an assembly line that was identical to the one at which Herring was pinned following a 2014 incident. However, the company didn’t fix the line where Herring worked until after Herring died.
An inspection conducted by the agency after the fatality resulted in GE being cited for seven safety violations and fined $98,000, which the company is appealing.
Fort St. John, British Colombia – Peace River Hydro Partners has been fined $662,102.48 by WorkSafeBC. The fine was imposed on August 21, 2019, after a worker sustained an electrical shock injury. A worker was able to access the main circuit breaker in a high-voltage electrical cabinet for tunneling equipment.
According to WorkSafeBC, the main electrical breaker extensions on the exterior cabinet door were not functioning, the de-energization switches had been circumvented and the main breaker switch-box isolation covers were in disrepair.
WorkSafeBC staff also determined that it was a standard work practice at this site to access the main circuit breaker without following lockout procedures.
A stop-use order was issued for the tunneling equipment because Peace River Hydro Partners failed to ensure its equipment was capable of safely performing its functions, and was unable to provide its workers with the information, instruction, training, and supervision necessary to ensure their health and safety.
WorkSafeBC says these were both repeated violations.
This is the largest fine WorkSafeBC can issue under B.C. legislation. The report from WorkSafeBC did not disclose the condition of the worker or the exact date of the incident.
Eau Claire, WI – A cookie dough manufacturing facility in Eau Claire, Wisconsin faces $782,526 in penalties for “continually exposing employees to machine safety hazards.” Choice Products USA LLC was cited for similar machine safety violations following an OSHA inspection in 2016, and as a consequence has now been placed in OSHA’s severe violator enforcement program.
Choice Products was cited for five egregious willful violations for their failures to implement an effective lockout/tagout (LOTO) program. OSHA also found that employee training on lockout/tagout was inadequate to prevent worker’s from unintentional contact with machinery during service and maintenance activities. Federal workplace safety inspectors also determined that Choice Products failed to install proper machine guarding.
Choice Products had been cited in a 2016 inspection for exposing employees to similar lockout/tagout and machine safety hazards.OSHA’s severe violator enforcement program targets employers who have demonstrated what they term an “indifference” workplace safety obligations by committing “willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.”
Decatur, GA – Last week OSHA announced $132,604 in penalties for safety violations documented at Atlanta Kitchen LLC. According to their press release, Atlanta Kitchen employees were exposed to health hazards from silica used in the facility and safety hazards from amputation risks and electrical dangers found at the Decatur kitchen countertop manufacturer.
Federal workplace safety investigators claim that Atlanta Kitchen exposed workers to unsafe levels of silica. Silica is a mineral used in construction materials which, according to OSHA, can be dangerous if inhaled. OSHA found the manufacturer failed to conduct monitoring to determine employees’ exposure to silica.
In addition, Atlanta Kitchen was cited for Lockout/Tagout failures. OSHA documented failures to develop written procedures for a hazardous energy control and failures in implementing the facility’s lockout/tagout program.
Bluffton, IN – Valero Renewable Fuels was the site of a workplace death this month caused by a lockout accident. A 42-year-old contractor was found dead at the plant, his body trapped in a piece of machinery.
Ryan West became trapped in machinery while working as a contractor at the Valero Renewable Fuels ethanol plant in Bluffton, IN. Local police have stated that Valero employees called 911 saying they couldn’t find West and feared he had been in an accident. When emergency responders arrived, they found his body caught in a piece of equipment. West was employed by Diversified Industrial Services, a grain equipment supplier, and was performing maintenance work on a large auger.
Lockout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the startup of machinery or equipment that may result in worker injury. Lockout/Tagout is also known as LOTO or Control of Hazardous Energy. These terms refers to the same safety standard and procedures and practices designed to prevent the unexpected start up or movement of equipment, especially crucial during maintenance or service work.
A study conducted by the United Auto Workers revealed that 20% of fatalities among their membership were attributed to inadequate hazardous energy control or lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures. An estimated 3 million workers service equipment as a part of their work duties. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard is said to prevent approximately 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year at facilities across the US.
Indiana’s arm of OSHA is investigating this latest incident, while local news media are reporting a history of safety violations at the ethanol plant. Earlier this year, Valero’s Bluffton plant was fined for “serious safety violations” involving machinery safety and lockout/tagout.
Tragedies such as this lockout accident in Indiana are preventable. Please contact a Lockout Specialist at Martin Technical today to discuss how we can help to make your plant or facility better, safer, and more efficient with the support of our suite of Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessment, Training, Machine Safety, and Safety Consulting services.
Napoleon, OH – Failure to lockout a machine at Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corp. was found to have been the cause of a worker’s broken arm. Federal workplace safety agents inspected the aluminum can manufacturing facility following a lockout/tagout accident, and Silgan Containers now faces proposed penalties of $106,080 for one repeat and three serious safety violations of lockout/tagout standards.
The fines were the result of an OSHA investigation triggered by an employee who suffered a broken arm while servicing a machine at Silgan Containers’ Ohio facility. An estimated 3 million workers service equipment at their jobs. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout (LOTO) is not properly implemented. Compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents approximately 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries annually in this country alone, and saves an average of 24 workdays that would be needed for recuperation in the case of a lockout accident.
According to OSHA’s Area Director, “Employers are required to train their employees on proper lockout/tag out procedures to prevent the release of stored energy or unexpected startup of equipment.”
It has been reported that OSHA cited Silgan Containers for similar violations at its Wisconsin plant in 2015.
Contact a Lockout/Tagout Specialist at Martin Technical today to discuss how we can provide practical safety and efficiency services to make your plant or facility a better, safer, and more efficient place to work.
Strattanville, PA – A 2018 amputation due to machine guarding failures at a PA modular home manufacturing facility lead to an OSHA investigation which revealed numerous workplace safety violation and resulted in a staggering $687,650 in penalties.
On the topic of machine guarding failures, OSHA’s local Area Office Director stated that “moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries if they are not safeguarded…Employers’ use of machine guards and devices is not optional. Employers are legally responsible for ensuring that machine operators are protected.”
In the investigation triggered by the November 2018 amputation, OSHA documented Champion Modular employees’ exposure to numerous workplace safety hazards. Some of the machine guarding failures included damaged plastic guards on a table saw which exposed employees to the saw blade, work rests on grinding machinery not adjusted properly, a grinder was being used without the proper guard, and a hand-fed circular ripsaw found without a spreader and missing a kickback device.
Hazards caused by combustible dust were also evident at the Champion Modular facility. Combustible dust was found to have accumulated in the higher areas of the facility, which posed an increased risk of fire. Additionally, a dust collector that was not equipped with devices and systems to prevent fire was noted as having the potential to expose employees to fire, burn, and deflagration hazards.
Violations of federal Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) machine safety standards was another a part of the citations and penalties OSHA issued. OSHA inspectors found equipment and machinery at the manufacturing facility that was missing lockout/tagout procedures altogether. Additionally, Champion Modular allegedly failed to perform periodic inspections of machine servicing and equipment maintenance procedures.
OSHA investigators also noted electrical safety violations and hazards at the PA manufacturing facility. Electrical equipment was found installed and/or in use outside of the intended purpose, not in compliance with instructions. Inspectors noted duct tape and electrical tape being used to cover up and hold together a damaged control pendant.
Violations and fines of this magnitude are avoidable through conscientious workplace safety programs – 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 complex workplace safety practices by applying real-world solutions for Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Training, Machine Safety & Safety Consulting Services.
New Milford, CT – A concrete masonry facility was the site of a tragically fatal conveyor accident last week. Daniel Kendrick, age 29, was killed on the job after becoming trapped in a conveyor belt system. OSHA is investigating the workplace fatality.
The masonry plant operated by New Milford Block and Supply was the site of the fatal conveyor accident. Kendrick is reported to have been a production operator at the concrete processing facility, with less than a year on the job.
The worker initially had been reported as missing, sadly though his body was subsequently discovered in a conveyor belt system used to move cement blocks. The medical examiner for the area ruled Kendrick’s death as accidental after determining loss of life due to blunt compression injuries to the head and torso.
Representatives of OSHA’s office in Hartford (CT) spoke with journalists this week, stating that “OSHA is gathering information to determine whether or not there were any violations of workplace safety standards in connection with this incident.”
Unfortunately, New Milford Block and Supply has been the focus of recent OSHA citations for violations of federal machine guarding safety standards in 2018, and previously in 2013 as well.
Macon, GA – 22 citations were announced last week for Lockout, Training, and Machine Safety violations found at a Georgia tire plant. The violations were documented as part of an OSHA follow-up inspection at Kumho Tire Georgia.
Three companies face a collective $523,895 in fines for safety violations allegedly found at the Kumho Tire Georgia plant in Macon: Kumho Tire Georgia Inc., Sae Joong Mold Inc., and J-Brothers Inc. The large fine represents 12 serious, nine repeat, and one other-than-serious workplace safety violations.
The 22 citations announced May 29 are the result of violations documented in a Nov 2018 follow-up inspection conducted at the Kumho Tire facility. OSHA has stated that the follow-up inspection was initiated after the agency failed to receive documents from Kumho indicating that it had abated violations found during a 2017 inspection. As a result of this history of violations, OSHA also announced that Kumho Tire Georgia Inc. has been placed in the Severe Violation Enforcement Program (SVEP).
A portion of the violations documented Kumho were for Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) failures. OSHA cited failures to follow hazardous energy-control procedures (also known as Lockout Procedures or LPs) when Kumho employees performed machine service and maintenance duties. Additionally, OSHA found a failure to train employees on the use and benefits of these energy-control or lockout/tagout procedures.
Additionally, there were failures to provide machine guards on some equipment in use at the Kumho plant. OSHA’s Atlanta-East area director stated the dangers associated with these violations: “This employer exposed workers to multiple safety and health deficiencies that put them at risk for serious or fatal injuries.”
Beyond the Kumho violations, OSHA also issued fines of $9,093 to Sae Joong Mold Inc. for using damaged slings and for electrical hazards at the Macon plant. J-Brothers Inc. was the third company named in these citations. J-Brothers portion of the fine was $7,503 for failure to mount portable fire extinguishers and failure to perform annual maintenance on fire extinguishers.
St. Joseph, MO – Following a fatal workplace accident at a Missouri sawmill, OSHA has issued $199,183 in fines for 14 serious and two repeat safety violations at American Walnut Co.
The fatal workplace accident occurred on March 12 of 2018 when American Walnut employee Joshua Hill (38) came into contact with operating equipment. Hill reportedly fell into the chute of a grinder and was killed. OSHA found that Hill was not attached to a tether line when he fell 10 feet into the grinder chute.
Following the sawmill fatality, federal workplace safety investigators identified 14 serious and two repeat safety violations at American Walnut Co. including failure to evaluate job hazards, control hazardous energy, and ensure adequate machine guarding. Additionally, workers were found to have been exposed to hazards associated with falls, ladders, and electrical safety.
Noise hazards observed at American Walnut prompted a separate investigation. OSHA inspectors documented that American Walnut employees were exposed to hazards associated with noise, combustible dust, and chemicals within the St. Joseph (MO) facility.
OSHA’s Kansas City Area Office Director stated that “Employers must continually evaluate job hazards and ensure safety guards are in use to protect workers from known hazards in their facilities.”
The safety of American workers is always our driving motivation at Martin Technical. Anyone with questions about federal safety standards and/or workplace safety hazards should contact a member of our Industrial Safety Team. Martin Technical is a leading provider of practical safety services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer, and more efficient. Our experts apply real-world solutions to create effective safety and health programs across this country and beyond.