HENDERSON, TX – Following a fatal injury suffered by an 86-year-old worker, the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA opened an investigation. The worker had fallen from a stack of pallets at W.D. Townley and Son Lumber Company Inc. The manufacturer has been family-owned and operated since 1943, with its private fleet of commercial transportation equipment.
The federal investigation at this Henderson sawmill and pallet manufacturer found the company exposed workers to hazardous energy sources and a lack of machine guarding.
OSHA cited the company for willful violations for failing to use energy control procedures and implement a hearing conservation program, as required by law. The agency also issued citations for serious violations for lack of machine guarding, failing to use personal protective equipment, not addressing the hazards from operating powered industrial trucks, and neglecting to notify OSHA within 8 hours of a work-related fatality as required. The lumber company faces $389,706 in proposed penalties.
“Sawmill operations can be hazardous work, but it should not be life-threatening,” said OSHA Area Director Basil Singh in Dallas. “W.D. Townley and Son Lumber Company Inc. showed a complete disregard for their employees’ well-being. OSHA will hold employers accountable when they neglect their legal responsibility to provide workers with a safe workplace.”
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.
Proper Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures safeguard workers from the release of hazardous energy. Employers must train workers in the purpose and function of the energy control program. In addition, workers have to be equipped with the knowledge and skills required to safely apply, use, and remove energy control devices.
In summary, establishing a complete and comprehensive Lockout/Tagout program that includes precise lockout procedures for all workers is essential. Partnering with certified lockout technicians allows faster and more accurate turnaround time on developing LOTO procedures and placards. Routine safety training can prevent accidents and avoid fines, ensuring the highest level of safety in your workplace.
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