Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has cited a landscaping company for multiple safety violations related to the death of a worker last July. A nineteen-year-old worker was killed by a rotating auger while working inside the hopper of a bark-blower truck at a residential jobsite. The blower and auger were energized at the time the worker was clearing a jam.
The employer has been cited for two willful and 14 serious violations, with penalties totaling $199,000. The employer has also been identified as a severe violator and will be subject to follow-up inspections to determine if the conditions still exist in the future.
“The loss of this young man’s life is a tragedy that could have been prevented if the employer had followed basic safety and health rules that protect workers from moving machinery,” said L&I Assistant Director Anne Soiza. “We hope this citation and the penalties serve as a deterrent so that nothing like this ever happens again.”
The L&I investigation found that the employer’s workers were regularly assigned to clear jams in the bark-blower truck hoppers while the hoppers were operating. This exposed them to three very hazardous elements: a floor conveyor belt, two rotating-screw conveyors (angled augers) and a rotating stir rod. Exposure to any of these parts of the equipment could potentially result in entanglement, causing severe crushing injuries or death.
Working in and around this type of extremely hazardous equipment requires lockout/tagout safety procedures to prevent machinery from starting up or moving during service or maintenance by workers.
The employer was cited for two willful violations. The first was issued for not ensuring lockout/tagout procedures were regularly used; it carries a penalty of $56,000. The second willful violation was issued for not training the employees in the proper use of those critical procedures; it carries a $52,000 penalty.
Additionally, working in the hopper of bark-blower trucks exposed workers to confined space hazards. Confined spaces, like hoppers, are areas large enough to accommodate a worker, but aren’t designed for continuous employee occupancy and have limited ways to enter or exit.
Twelve of the serious violations cited were for failure to implement safe work practices when entering a permit-required confined space. Two other serious violations were cited for not having an effective accident prevention program and for failure to document lockout/tagout procedures. Each of these violations carries a $6,500 penalty.
HIGH SPRINGS, FLA. – Ice River Springs Water Co. Inc., a water bottling plant in Florida, was fined $84,000 by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration following an accident that permanently disabled a contingent worker.
The worker was clearing a jam in a machine used to package cases of bottled water on pallets when the machine started up, pinning him between the elevator and the palletizer conveyor, permanently disabling him. The worker had been on the job for 12 days.
As a result, it could now be significantly difficult for him to find any type of work and may need to have a look into applying for disability benefits, such as in the form of Social Security, for example. As he won’t be able to partake in the workplace for quite a long time, he will need to have monthly payments issued to him, in order for him to have money to live off. He will need to file an application to The Social Security Administration, SSA, before receiving any benefits, and companies similar to Crest SSD may be able to help him get what is rightly his, especially after such a tragic, and life-altering accident.
An OSHA investigation found Ice River’s High Springs facility allowed workers to bypass two machine safeguards when entering the palletizer’s safety cage. OSHA cited the water-bottle manufacturer for three safety violations, two serious and one willful; fines total $84,000.
Willful. Failure to ensure workers were protected from moving machine parts during service or maintenance.
“It is critical that Ice River Springs and TempForce understand OSHA’s newest initiatives to protect temporary workers, which must include shared responsibility by the host employer and the temporary staffing agency. These initiatives include taking effective steps to ensure that each temporary worker is sufficiently trained and monitored to safeguard them from the hazards of their new work environment” said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA’s area director in Jacksonville.