Amputation Due to Lockout Failures Nets $160K in OSHA Fines

Picayune, MS – OSHA has fined Heritage Plastics $159,118 after finding willful violations of federal workplace safety standards during an investigation triggered by an amputation accident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration documented failures in lockout/tagout, failures to train employees on LOTO, and failures to install machine guards at the MS PVC conduit, fittings and pipe manufacturer.

A Heritage employee lost four fingers in November of last year when a mixing machine unexpectedly started while the worker was removing material from itamputation due to lockout. OSHA found that the accident was preventable and concluded that it was due to a failure to use a lockout device or properly train its workers on lockout/tagout (LOTO). Heritage was also cited for failing to install adequate machine guarding.

Lockout/tagout is a workplace safety system designed to prevent the startup of machinery or equipment that may result in worker injury. Lockout (or LOTO) procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment. To be compliant with federal energy control standards, employers must establish a lockout program and follow procedures for affixing appropriate lockout or tagout devices to energy isolating devices. Taking steps to prevent the unexpected energization, start up, or release of stored energy prevents employee injury. 
Training employees on the exact protocol to control hazardous energy is a fundamental part of a successful lockout program. Employee must be trained to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program is understood, and so that they possess the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of energy control/lockout devices.
A statement made by OSHA‘s Jackson (MS) Area Office Director emphasized how this accident could have been prevented: “Proper safety procedures, including the effective lockout of all sources of energy, could have prevented this employee’s serious injury…Employers must take proactive steps to develop and implement energy control procedures to minimize risk to their employees.”

Contact a member of our industrial safety team today to discuss how Martin Technical can improve accident prevention measures at your facility.

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Partial Amputation at Window Maker Prompts OSHA Fines

partial amputationHialeah, FL – OSHA has cited CGI Windows and Doors for federal workplace safety violations that include willful failures in machine guarding which will cost PGT Industries fines proposed to total $398,545. OSHA investigated the Florida window and door manufacturer following reports that an employee had suffered a partial finger amputation while using an unguarded punch press at their facility outside of Miami. CGI Windows and Doors is owned by PGT Industries.

OSHA cited PGT for two serious violations and two other-than-serious violations, however the bulk of the fine was for the willful violation of machine safety standards. In their announcement, OSHA stated that PGT Industries “knowingly disregarded machine guarding requirement intended to protect employees from caught-in and amputation hazards.” The Willful violation constitutes $258,672 of the proposed fine. In this case, OSHA applied the maximum fine allowed by law for the violations that can cause life-altering injury.

Federal workplace safety inspectors found guards absent on eight punch presses, a drill press, and a table saw at the CGI Windows and Doors facility. Three other punch presses were documented as having guards that didn’t cover enough area to protect workers.

The serious and other-than-serious citations were for hazards including failing to implement a program to inspect mechanical power presses and correct unsafe conditions; exposing employees to electrical hazards; failing to make sure employees wore hearing protection; and failing to develop specific procedures to verify the control of hazardous energy an industrial safety practice known as Lockout Tagout.

In response to OSHA’s announcement and the associated penalties, PGT asserted that they “share OSHA’s goal of ensuring the safety of each and every one of our team members.”

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Worker’s Arm Crushed in Preventable Energy Control Accident

Norwalk, OH – An Ohio manufacturer faces $213,411 in federal safety fines for failures to prevent known safety hazards. Following an industrial accident at their Norwalk (OH) facility, OSHA found American Excelsior failed to develop or implement energy control procedures and also failed to train employees on energy control procedures.

Energy control procedures, such as Lockout/Tagout, are designed to prevent unintentional machine start-up during maintenance. 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.

In the 2018 accident at American Excelsior, OSHA investigators determined that the employee sustained injuries when a machine resumed operation while he was in the process of removing product build-up in the equipment. The worker suffered a crushed arm and required hospitalization.

According to OSHA’s Toledo Area Office Director, American Excelsior “failed to implement safety procedures to prevent known hazards…This injury could have been avoided if machine locking devices had been installed.”

OSHA’s proposed penalties of $213,411 are for violations and failures found at American Excelsior in the areas of energy control, machine guarding, and employee training.

Training employees on the value of energy control procedures is one of the most crucial pieces of a successful and compliant lockout/tagout program. Employers must provide training to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program are understood by employees and that they possess the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of energy controls.

compliance

American Excelsior Company manufactures biodegradable erosion control blankets. They are reported to have received citations for similar violations at their Wisconsin facility in 2017 and have been placed on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA sets and enforces the standards that make workplaces safe for American workers. Martin Technical is a leading provider of practical industrial safety and efficiency services. Our experts can help simplify the complex by applying real-world solutions for Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Training, Machine Safety & Safety Consulting Services. Contact a member of our Safety Services & Training Team to discuss how we can help make your workplace better, safer and more efficient.

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Death Due to Willfully Unguarded Machinery Leads to $250K Fine

Santa Ana, CA – Cal/OSHA announced fines of over a quarter of a million dollars against Aardvark Clay & Supplies this week. The fines are the result of Cal/OSHA’s investigation into a 2018 worker death at the facility which has been attributed to willful failure to properly guard equipment and lack of lockout/tagout training.

Enrique Garcia-Vazques (18) died in a workplace accident at the Santa Ana (CA) clay products business on Sept. 20, 2018 when he became fatally entangled in a clay manufacturing machine called a pug mill. According to reports, Garcia-Vazques was packaging clay blocks after they were cut to size when he became caught in the unguarded mixing blades of the machine as he attempted to identify why the clay stopped traveling through the extruder. According to Cal/OSHA’s report, Enrique Vasquez Garcia sustained amputation, puncture and asphyxia-related injuries in the workplace accident.

Cal/OSHA found that machine safety guards had been purposely removed from the industrial mixer and that the worker had not received training on the machine prior to the accident. Local emergency responders tried to free Garcia-Vazques from the equipment, but sadly, in the end he was declared dead at the scene.

According to said Cal/OSHA’s statement, “Pug mills have rotating blades that can cause amputations and fatally injure employees…Employers must ensure all machinery and its parts are properly guarded, and employees are effectively trained to prevent tragic accidents like this.” Aardvark Clay & Supplies uses the industrial pug mills to manufacture and mix clay.

Investigators with California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health found that all four of the pug mills in Aardvark’s Santa Ana shop had unguarded openings exposing employees to the moving parts. This is in direct violation of safety regulations requiring mixers to have a cover to prevent employees’ hands from entering the machine during operation. This willful failure to guard machinery was cited as one of the willful-serious violations for which Aardvark is being held accountable.

Five violations were levied against Aardvark Clay & Supplies, along with a grand total of $250,160 in proposed penalties. Among the violations, one was categorized as willful-serious accident-related, one was classified as willful-serious, two were deemed serious, and one was general. Accident-related violations are cited when the injury, illness, or fatality is caused by the violation. Serious violations are cited when there is a “realistic possibility” that death or serious harm could result from the hazard created by the violation.

The willful-serious violations were cited for the Aardvark’s failure to guard machine openings and points of operation. The serious violations identified hazards from the unguarded cutting portion of the clay machine and failure of the employer’s safety program to identify unsafe conditions, implement corrective procedures, and effectively train employees on work-related hazards.

The state of California requires employers to conduct and document inspection of safety hazards as a part of their state-mandated Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Employers whose workplaces feature machines with moving parts, such as mixers, are also required to train their employees in Machine Guarding and Lockout/Tagout in an effort to prevent exactly the type of accident that killed Garcia-Vazques.

Aardvark Clay & Supplies was found to have failed to effectively train workers on the hazards involved with operating their machinery, and then found remiss in identifying and correcting their machine safety hazards. Machine safety guards were provided by equipment manufacturer, but Cal/OSHA found that Aardvark had removed the guards. Investigators documented evidence of fabricated guards having been added to the machines at some point in their operation, but these were found to have been later removed when the employer “believed they interfered with the rate of production.”

For this reason, Cal/OSHA categorized Aardvark’s violation as willful. Willful violations are cited when the employer is aware of the law and still violates it or is aware of a hazardous condition and takes no reasonable steps to address it.

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OSHA’s Top 5 Most Cited Violations 2018

For the fifth year running, lockout/tagout is among OSHA’s top five most cited sources of workplace safety violations.

According to statistics for the 2018 fiscal year, Lockout/Tagmost cited violationsout was ranked #5 in most cited OSHA violations, was also the fifth most common source of ‘serious’ violations, and ranked #2 among ‘willful’ violations issued.

The top 5 most cited violations reported for 2018 were: 1) Fall Protection, 2) Hazard Communication, 3) Scaffolding, 4) Respiratory Protection, and 5) Lockout/Tagout.

Within and among the 2,923 total lockout violations cited in 2018, the top five sections cited were:

  1. Procedures shall be developed, documented, and utilized for the control of potentially hazardous energy when employees are engaged in the activities covered in section 1910.147(c)(4)(i). [20% of lockout citations referenced this violation.]
  2. The employer shall conduct a periodic inspection of the energy control procedure at least annually to ensure that the procedure and the requirements
  3.  of standard 1910.147(c)(6)(i) are being followed. [11.7% of lockout citations referenced this violation.]
  4. The employer shall establish a program consisting of energy control procedures, employee training  and periodic inspections to ensure that before any employee performs any servicing or maintenance on a machine or equipment where the unexpected energizing, startup, or release of stored energy could occur and cause injury, the machine or equipment shall be isolated from the energy source and rendered inoperative. [11.3% of lockout citations referenced this violation.]
  5. The employer shall provide training to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program are understood by employees and that the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls are acquired by the employees. [9% of lockout citations referenced this violation.]
  6. Affected employees shall be notified by the employer or authorized employee of the application and removal of lockout devices or tagout devices. Notification shall be given before the controls are applied, and after they are removed from the machine or equipment. [6% of lockout citations referenced this violation.]

Martin Technical’s team of industrial safety professionals works every day to promote worker safety and facilitate a culture of safety at facilities around the globe. Our RAPID LOTO™ program is a proprietary system developed by Martin Technical that allows faster and more accurate turnaround time for the development of LOTO (lockout/tagout) procedures and placards.

Rapid LOTO is the most advanced and comprehensive program in the industry. Martin Technical leverages our experience in maintenance and safety with innovative technologies to provide a robust yet easily understood system designed for efficient implementation.

Our professional lockout technicians use Rapid LOTO lockout software and an in-field process to label equipment. Placards are developed and reviewed daily, keeping the information at hand relevant and fresh. Martin Technical takes pride in offering a service that can place lockout placards on your equipment as soon as the next day.

Contact a lockout expert today to see how we can help you institute a written lockout program that will benefit the health of your workers, your machinery, and your business.

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$89,000 in Fines Following 2018 Death at Asphalt Co.

fines following deathNorth 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.”

OSHA has proposed penalties total $89,032. Western Engineering was cited for seven serious violations of machine guarding, lockout/tagout, and permit-required confined space standards.

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.

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Multiple Violations Found at MS Paper Co, $300K+ Fines Issued

Natchez, MS – OSHA has cited paper products manufacturer von Drehle Corporation for multiple workplace safety hazards and issued $303,657 in potential penalties, including one for the maximum amount allowed by law.

OSHA investigators found that the company’s Natchez (MS) facility put employees at risk of injury through exposure to electrical hazards, lack of machine guarding, failure to lockout machinery and control hazardous energy, by exposing employees to the dangers of arc flash, and by allowing slip, trip, and fall hazards.

OSHA’s Area Office Director stated that “employers are required to assess potential hazards, and make necessary corrections to ensure a safe workplace…[This] inspection multiple violations finesresults demonstrate workplace deficiencies existed, putting workers at serious risk of injury or death.”

Von Drehle Corp issued a statement regarding the citations at their Natchez facility: “Employee safety is the utmost important priority for von Drehle, which is why we fully cooperated with OSHA throughout the inspections.”

Von Drehle is headquartered in Hickory, North Carolina, and manufacturers industrial and commercial paper products like tissue and paper towels at facilities in North Carolina, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee.

Employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. OSHA sets workplace safety standards and enforces these conditions on behalf of American workers. Martin Technical supports industry by providing compliance support such as comprehensive Lockout/Tagout and Electrical Safety programs as well as employee training on all aspects of workplace safety. Contact a member of our Safety Team today to discuss how we can be your partner in safety.

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WI Worker Killed in HVAC Tagout Failure

Wauwatosa, WI – An employee at AAM Casting was killed while working on the facility’s rooftop HVAC system. 61-year-old William Walker died after being pulled into a moving fan at the Wisconsin foundry. A co-worker told investigators that the fatal accident could be traced back to Walker’s failure to “tag out” the equipment.

Tagout failureAccording to the medical examiner’s report, Walker was working on the roof in small building that housed an air handling unit. Each air unit consisted of a set of stairs leading into a separate room. Walker was found in a small steel fan shack that controlled ventilation for the building.

Investigators were told by a person on the scene that Walker was supposed to have “tagged out” after finishing his task, but neglected to do so and was fatally “swallowed up” by the fan. Another worker heard commotion and found Walker. That employee shut down the unit and called 911. The local medical examiner is investigating the exact cause of death.

A spokesperson represneting AAM Casting said the victim, William Walker, was an outside contractor working at the facility.

Lockfatal accidentLockout procedout-Tagout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment. Lockout-Tagout (also known as Control of Hazardous Energy) helps to prevent the startup of machinery or equipment that may result in worker injury or fatality.

According to OSHA, nearly 3 million US workers service equipment as a part of their job. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout (LOTO) is not properly implemented. Compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard is estimated to prevent 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries annually. In a study conducted by the United Auto Workers (UAW), 20% of fatalities that occurred among their membership over a span of 22 years were attributable to inadequate lockout/tagout procedures.

Contact a member of our Industrial Safety Team today to discuss the implementation of a robust Lockout/Tagout system at your facility, and the importance of training employees on the use and value of LOTO.

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FL Pet Food Manufacturer Surprised by $95K in OSHA Fines

Miami, FL – Without ever having had a notable accident at their facility, Higgins Premium Pet Foods was surprised to receive $95,472 in OSHA fines following safety inspections in the fall of 2018.osha fines

Federal workplace safety inspectors documented 17 violations at the pet food manufacturer: crushed-by hazards from damaged or overloaded storage racks; lack of machine guarding on gears, sprockets, and chains; failure to develop and implement a hazardous energy control program (also known as Lockout/Tagout); employees exposed to fall hazards due to an uncovered floor hole; and failure to ensure employees wore protective gloves when handling corrosive cleaners.

In an interview with the Miami Herald, Higgins general manager Andres Perea stated that OSHA “showed up with four inspectors for the first inspection…Then they came back four more times.” The Herald described Perea’s reaction as stunned. He also stated that the North Miami facility had “never had a death, never had an amputation. In the last five years, we’ve had five injuries. The worst was a sprained knee.”

Records indicate that prior to the fall 2018 inspections, OSHA hadn’t inspected the Higgins pet food facility in the past 10 years. In the case of a location, industry, or company without a history of OSHA transgressions, inspections are generally triggered by an incident or complaint. In this instance, the two inspections of the Higgins facility were initiated by worker complaints and referral of another agency.

In their statement on the charges against Higgins, OSHA’s Area Director said that the violations found at the pet food manufacturing facility “put employees at risk for serious or fatal injuries. OSHA also stressed in that same statement that “employers must assess their workplace for potential safety and health hazards, and are encouraged to contact the local OSHA office for assistance with establishing and improving safety and health programs.”

The Miami Herald predicts that as this is Higgins first OSHA offence, it is possible that OSHA and Higgins will be able to settle the fines for less than the initially imposed $95,472. Higgins Premium Pet Foods makes natural pet foods for birds and small animals, and is operated by a company called The Higgins Group.

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Fatal Injury During Machine Cleaning

Gardena, CA – A worker was killed this week in Gardena (CA) when the machine he was cleaning turned back on. The fatal injury occurred at the German Machined Products Inc manufacturing facility. Cal/OSHA is investigating.

fatal injuryOn Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles County Fire Department received a call about a person trapped inside a metal-cutting machine. By the time emergency workers arrived, the man was dead.

The worker’s name has not yet been released, but according to the LA County Coroner’s Office the victim was a Latino man in his 60s.

German Machined Products’ Gardena manufacturing facility specializes in complex machining and assembly for the aerospace industry. There is a history of Cal/OSHA citations and violations at the plant. In 2014, Cal/OSHA issued four general citations and one serious citation against German Machined Products for failing to properly guard hazardous machinery.

In light of this fatal workplace injury, Cal/OSHA will be interviewing co-workers, checking the Gardena facility’s equipment, and thoroughly reviewing safety and training procedures at German Machined Products.

Accidents during machine maintenance and cleaning activities are especially tragic since they are highly preventable. The federal Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) standard is designed to protect the nearly 3 million workers who service equipment and consequently face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard is estimated to prevent roughly 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries annually.

Please contact Martin Technical to learn more about Lockout/Tagout safety procedures.

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