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.
Chicago, IL – A Chicago-based manufacturer of industrial dryers is facing $171,000 in fines after an OSHA inspection revealed “multiple serious violations.” At Chicago Dryer Co., investigators found that operators were endangered by unguarded press brakes, earning the company a citation for a willful violation (defined as one that is committed with informed disregard for the law or indifference to employee safety).
“When a press brake lacks safety features, one slip and a worker can lose a hand,” Angeline Loftus, area director of OSHA’s Chicago North Area Office in Des Plaines, explained in the April 13, 2015 press release.
Twenty additional serious violations were cited as well, bringing the total to 21. Investigators reported damaged crane slings (some carrying 3,000-pound cylinders) and industrial machines were still being used at Chicago Dryer, railings were not installed on open stairs, and exit routes were blocked and exit doors were locked. Agency inspectors also found that there were electrical safety hazards and training concerns.
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.”
Barron, WI – Koser Iron Works was forced to close in December of 2014 after OSHA investigators levied over $102,000 in fines for safety violations, including failure to implement a lockout/tagout program at the plant. Fire, explosion, and amputation hazards were cited in 12 safety violations at the Barron, WI business and 20 employees were laid off as a result of the closure.
Koser, owner of the metalworking shop since 1964, disputes the OSHA allegations. “That’s a ridiculous amount of money and I don’t have it,” said Koser. “No one who reads the OSHA news release about us would want to work for us, or even do any business with us. So it is over.” Koser said he may have to sell his equipment to pay the fine.
Koser Iron Works was cited for two willful, four repeated and 12 serious safety violations in a Oct. 1, 2014 inspection, according to a news release issued Monday by OSHA.
OSHA inspectors observed a lack of lockout/tagout measures in their investigation of the facility. While Koser employees made die changes on punch presses, they failed to use energy control procedures, including powering off and affixing locking devices to prevent unintentional operation of a press. The company also failed to ensure safety mechanisms were in place on its power presses and lathes.
Similar hazards were found in a 2013 investigation after an employee complaint prompted an inspection at the same facility. These repeat violations are considered by OSHA to be “willful” – committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health. In more modern metalworking facilities with newer upgraded tools and equipment, the safety measures put into place on some of the more hazardous machinery such as a new quality lathe machine, for example, won’t allow for lockouts to be bypassed. This is to ensure the safety of any employee working on such a piece of machinery, even if the facility itself chooses to try and bypass any safety measures, it won’t be able to.
Koser Iron Works was a steel fabrication company that cut, formed, and welded steel and steel products. The business had been in the Koser family since 1915.
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.”