MO Contractor Fined $224K after Trench Collapse, Employee Injury

Creve Coeur, MO- OSHA cited a Missouri contractor for violations of trenching and excavation standards after an employee suffered severe injuries when a 20-foot trench collapsed during an excavation at Creve Coeur Sanitary Sewer Trunk.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Unnerstall Contracting Company LLC, based in Pacific, Missouri, for three willful and four serious violations. The penalties amounted to $224,459.

The company was cited for failing to use adequate trench protective systems, permitting employees to ride in the bucket of hydraulic excavators, allowing water to accumulate in the floor of the trench, failing to provide a safe means of egress from the trench, failing to protect workers from struck-by hazards, and failing to place excavated soil piles an adequate distance from trench edges.

OSHA has since placed the company in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the OSHA citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

These penalties and citations embody a number of safety topics and issues, some of which could be prevented and resolved by proper management training.

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OSHA Fines Tire Warehouse over $190,000

Buford, GA- A Buford distribution center has received over $190,000 in fines for safety violations that put its employees at risk, the U.S. Department of Labor said.

The $191,895 fine was levied against Mavis Southeast — the company better known as Mavis Discount Tire — on Dec. 23, following a routine inspection by the Occupational Safety and Heath Administration done on Sept. 11. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Inspectors found some warehouse emergency exits were blocked with items including stacks of tires, putting employees at risk in case of a fire or other instances when an urgent exit would be required. The facility also lacked emergency exit signs in required positions, a repeat offense, the agency said in its citation report. The repeat violations stem from issues first recorded in 2016, the report says.OSHA fines tire warehouse

Employees were seen without required safety equipment while working at elevations up to 25 feet, and multiple industrial storage racks had visible damage, presenting a risk to warehouse workers, the report said. Aisles where workers walk near trucks and other industrial machinery were not properly labeled, risking workers being struck by machinery, the report said. Congested and narrow aisles also presented a danger to forklift operators, according to the report.

Fire extinguishers were not easily accessible and did not undergo required monthly inspections or an annual maintenance check, the report said. Multiple violations regarding a lack of employee safety training were also noted in the report.

The company must respond the citation within 15 business days and include certifications that show the violations have been fixed. Mavis Southeast has the right to contest the citations and fines, but must do so within the 15-day period.

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Family Sues GE Appliances after Worker’s Death

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.worker killed in machine incident

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.

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Heavy Fines for Machine Safety Hazards at WI Facility

machine safety hazardsEau 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.”

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Lockout Accident Kills Contractor at IN Ethanol Plant

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 machinerylockout accident 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.

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Failure to Lockout Machine Breaks Worker’s Arm and Prompts $100+ in Fines

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 needefailure lockout machined for recuperation in the case of a lockout accident.

The single repeat and three serious safety violations were issued for failure to train employees on energy control procedures, perform periodic inspections of energy control procedures, and failure to provide adequate machine guarding at a pinch point. Lockout/Tagout (also known as LOTO) refers to a system of controlling hazardous energy in an effort to prevent the unexpected start up or movement of equipment, which especially necessary to reduce worker exposure to injury during service and maintenance activities.

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.

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Machine Guarding Failures Lead to $687,650 in Penalties

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.

Last month, OSHA issued willful and serious citations to Champion Modular Inc. for failures in the areas of machine guarding, fall protection, electrical safety, hazard communication, lockout/tagout (LOTO), combustible dust, and training.

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 machine guarding failuresfacility. 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.

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Arc Flash Hazards Garner Over $.278M in Fines

Hayden, AZ – Three workers burned severely by arc flash hazards found at an Arizona metal smelting and extraction facility triggered an OSHA investigation which lead to this week’s announcement of penalties totaling $278,456.

The federal workplace safety agency released its citation against ASARCO this warc flash hazardseek, claiming two willful violations and one serious violation of electrical hazards standards at the Hayden (AZ) facility.

In its investigation of the arc flash, OSHA inspectors determined that the arc flash occurred after the insertion of a breaker into a 4,160V switchgear. ASARCO was cited for three violations of electrical safety standards: failure to provide the workers with a pre-job briefing before starting work on the energized switchgear, failure to render the electrical breaker inoperable before work began, and failures in providing the employees with arc-flash protective clothing (also known at PPE).

OSHA’s Regional Administrator stated that “arc flash hazards are well known, but can be eliminated when workers are properly trained and protective equipment is provided.”

Not only is electrical safety training required by OSHA, but it’s a vital piece of fulfilling an arc flash analysis or electrical safety program. Once electrical labels are visible, workers need to know how to properly understand the program and read the labels. Employees also need to understand the importance of properly care for their PPE, and how to do so. The need for every worker to understand electrical safety for their equipment and tasks in particular can not be over-stated.

Read more about Arc Flash Analysis and common pitfalls on our website, and contact a member of our Electrical Safety Team today to discuss how Martin Technical can bring awareness to arc flash hazards, get your facility compliant, and increase the safety of your workforce. Martin Technical is the leading provider of practical safety and efficiency services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer, and more efficient.

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.5M in Fines for Lockout, Training, and Machine Safety Violations

lockout trainingMacon, 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.

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Serious Safety Violations Found at IN Bottling Plant

Lapel, IN – Three serious safety violations were found at the Owens-Illinois Bottling facility in Lapel, Indiana. The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) issued $13,500 in fines for safety violations inspectors which it determined could have led to serious worker injury.

In an investigation last fall, IOSHA found serious safety violations including insufficient employee training and failure to lockout an electrical box while it was in the process of being repaired.serious safety violations

The serious safety violation related to Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) states that lockout “procedures were not developed, documented and utilized for the control of potentially hazardous energy,” during machine maintenance at Owens-Illinois’ Indiana bottling plant.

Additionally, Owens-Illinois was found to have failed to properly train employees on lockout/tagout and machine safety. OSHA requires that employers provide training to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control or LOTO programs are understood by employees.

The third serious safety violation concerned unused openings in electrical boxes, raceways, and other electrical equipment which were not closed when IOSHA conducted their investigation. Safety inspectors cited Owens-Illinois for failure to protect employees and equipment from exposure to electrical hazards.

Electrical safety, Lockout/Tagout, and training on both of these important components of workplace safety are at the heart of Martin Technical’s suite of safety services. 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 can help simplify the complex by applying real-world solutions for Lockout/Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Training, Machine Safety, and Safety Consulting Services. Please call a member of our Industrial Safety Team today to discuss how to improve safety and efficiency at your facility.

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