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.
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.
Waukegan, IL- An OSHA investigation into the deaths of four employees of an Illinois chemical plant has resulted in more than a million dollars in proposed penalties against AB Specialty Silicones LLC.
The company has been cited for a dozen willful federal safety violations in the explosion and fire at its Waukegan facility on May 3, 2019 that caused deaths of four employees.
The silicon chemical products manufacturer faces $1,591,176 in penalties and has been placed in the in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
OSHA investigators determined AB Specialty Silicones failed to ensure that electrical equipment and installations in the production area of the plant complied with OSHA electrical standards, and were approved for hazardous locations. The company also used forklifts powered by liquid propane to transport volatile flammable liquids, and operated these forklifts in areas where employees handled and processed volatile flammable liquids and gases, creating the potential for ignition.
Ontario, Canada- September 19th was Black Thursday in Ontario’s electrical sector with three separate incidents of workers contacting overhead wires causing two electrocution deaths and injuring two others.
The spate of mishaps left construction, electrical and health and safety stakeholders upset, frustrated and searching for answers.
“The Electrical Safety Authority is very saddened to hear any time there are incidents of an electrical nature,” said Dr. Joel Moody, the ESA’s chief public safety officer. “Our thoughts are with the families who have experienced loss.”
Two of the three involved construction work. The third, in Kawartha Lakes, was at a private home where workers trimming a hedge on an elevated work platform contacted a powerline. One worker died and the other was injured.
In Vaughan, a Ministry of Labour report said a worker employed by Pontil Drilling Services sustained fatal injuries when a drill boom made contact with overhead power lines.
In Scarborough, east Toronto, a worker for Darcon was injured when a tower crane hit an overhead powerline. The job site constructor is Paramount Structures.
“This is a stark reminder of the dangers of working near electricity and clearly shows there is a need for more to be done to keep workers safe,” said James Barry, executive chairman of the IBEW Construction Council of Ontario, in an online statement.
There have been 1,250 reported overhead powerline contacts in Ontario in the last 10 years with an average of two deaths per year, making the pair of fatalities on Sept. 19 a full year’s worth statistically. The ESA says construction workers are at especially high risk with 60 per cent of powerline contacts occurring with dump trucks on construction sites.
The ESA responded to the mishaps with a statement urging awareness of the specific hazards related to working near wires. It’s a message that echoes those of the ESA’s Powerline Safety Week awareness campaign that’s launched at the start of construction season each May in Canada.
The ESA also works with utilities, haulers and arborists on a regular basis, Moody said.
“We urge situational awareness with a hazard assessment being the first thing they should do,” he said. “Be aware of your surroundings.”
“All of these incidents are preventable. Electricity is very lethal and unforgiving and having safe work practices every day is very important.”
“For the most part, if you look at the utilities, they live and breathe health and safety,” Kelusky said. “These weren’t utility workers, the guys dealing with the live stuff, they deal with it with great respect and understanding. That is a cultural thing from top to bottom.”
Despite the incidents of Sept. 19, Kelusky said, the statistics show construction is getting safer and that the construction sector in the province is developing a more integrated safety culture.
Responding to the comment urging that more be done, Kelusky said a major focus of his office is linking the diverse efforts of the health and safety community. His office has recently pledged to work with Ontario’s Industrial Health and Safety Association to undertake more research to be able to provide stronger tools to employers.
The approach to falls across the province in the last decade is a good example of how research can lead to program development and working with employers and employees to deliver results, Kelusky explained.
“What we want to do is supply labor and employers with more information other than, if you touch that it will hurt you,” he said, referring to electrical hazards. “We did that with falls and touch wood that seems to be going well.”
Looking ahead, Kelusky said, there are positive signs from Queen’s Park with the auditor general conducting a much-needed review of health and safety programs, the government reviewing the WSIB and signals from the new Minister of Labor, Monte McNaughton, that he is keenly interested in health and safety and working collaboratively with stakeholders. That’s on top of the WSIB’s new Health and Safety Excellence Program and the continuing growth of COR.
Reynoldsburg, OH – In a fatal workplace accident this month, an employee was crushed between an expandable conveyor belt and a wall of boxes that had been loaded onto a truck at the L Brands facility outside of Columbus (OH).
Two L Brands employees were loading boxes of Bath and Body Works products onto a truck using an expandable conveyor when one became pinned between the machine and the stacked boxes and was crushed. Harvey Beavers was transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. OSHA is investigating the fatal workplace accident.
Beavers is reported to have been pinned inside the truck for approximately 10 minutes before he was extricated. CPR was performed, he was transported to the hospital, and later pronounced dead. A co-worker was responsible for placing packages on the conveyer belt into the trailer. That employee reported noticing a red light above the conveyer, signifying a machinery malfunction or stoppage.
According to OSHA, Beavers was pinned facing the wall of boxes with the conveyer pressing into his lower back. The end of the conveyor that was against Beaver’s back contained all controls for moving the conveyer in and out of the trailer, as well as the emergency shut off. With the machine’s controls at his back, Beavers was unable to shut the expandable conveyor down himself and rescuers were forced to spend precious minutes unloading boxes full of product to get to him.
OSHA is actively investigating the fatality. L Brands Inc is a Columbus-based fashion retailer which includes brands like Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works.
Cookeville, TN – Police report that a loose valve cap has caused the death of an employee at M&E Industries.
A valve cap on a highly pressurized tank came loose and hit M&E Industries employee Dewey Mayberry in the chest, critically injuring him. Mayberry was taken to a local medical center where he was pronounced dead.
Dewey Mayberry, age 65, had worked at the M&E Industries plant since 2003. He is reported to have been performing his typical daily job duties when the accident occurred. Local police describe the valve cap as being thick metal and estimate it to have been the size of a “salad plate…about six inches in diameter.”
The M&E Industries facility in Cookeville produces refueling equipment such as filters, filter housings, and filter separators.
Tar Heel, NC – The North Carolina division of OSHA has launched an investigation into operations at the Smithfield Packing Plant in Bladen County (NC) after a mechanic was killed in a pressure release accident on the job last week.
According to sources, the fatal workplace accident began when Michael Jessup (age 55) became trapped in a piece of machinery. Jessup was performing repairs on a conveyor belt and was on a scissor lift at the time of the accident.
NC Department of Labor stated that Jessup “was struck in the head by a cylinder while trying to remove a bent wheel from a chain drive. The employee switched the airline hoses to relieve pressure from the chain when [he] was stuck.”
Emergency personnel were called to the facility where they pronounced the man dead at the scene as a result of trauma to the head. Jessup had been employed by Smithfield for about a decade.
Orlando, FL – A fatal combination of slip/fall and confined space hazards lead to the death of Harvest Power employee John Korody. Korody died after falling into a vat filled with oil and grease outside of Walt Disney World last month. The slip/fall hazard was compounded by overwhelming fumes surrounding the oil vat.
The accident happened at the Harvest Power facility that contracts with Disney World to recycle the resort’s food waste and convert it into renewable energy and fertilizers.
Two Harvest Power employees were emptying oil and grease byproduct from a semi-truck into a vat when Korody slipped on a grate and fell in. Korody’s co-worker tried to pull him to safety but fumes from the oil and grease byproduct overwhelmed both workers, and Korody slipped farther into the vat. Korody was pronounced dead at the scene, and the local Fire Department helped to recover his body.
OSHA estimates that about 90 deaths involving confined spaces occur every year in the US and unfortunately, two-thirds of those killed are workers attempting to rescue someone else from the confined space.
Many workplaces contain areas that are considered “confined spaces” because while they were not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. A confined space also has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy. Such spaces include (but are not limited to) tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, vats, equipment housings, ductwork, and pipelines.
OSHA outlines national workplace safety standards for permit-required confined spaces and the serious hazards they post to American workers. In addition to the difficultly in accessing and exiting confined spaces, these sites are often inadequately ventilated and/or trap noxious air. Without proper training, signage, and hazard mitigation planning, confined space conditions can result in tragic fatalities.
Ogden, UT – The American Nutrition plant in northern Utah was the site of an employee death last month when Raul Ortiz was killed in a palletizer accident. Ortiz was crushed after entering an energized palletizer elevator in an attempt to restart packaging line equipment at the pet food manufacturing facility.
Raul Ortiz, a 33-year-old packaging line associate, was fatally injured while operating an automatic bag palletizer. The palletizer machine automatically stacks pet food bags onto a pallet for transport. Ortiz was attempting to restart the palletizer when he was injured on the nightshift and died soon after.
It is believed that Ortiz got into the palletizer elevator while the equipment was still energized, becoming fatally injured as the machinery lifted and crushed him onto the top of the elevator.
An investigation has been launched into the accident and the facility was closed for a portion of time. The American Nutrition facility at Ogden produces extruded, real meat, and baked pet food products.
Promontory, UT – A propellant explosion trapped an Autoliv North America worker inside a burning building. He was rescued, but died of his injuries.
64-year-old Ronald Larson was trapped in a fire that consumed the mixing portion of Autoliv North America’s Promontory (UT) facility. He died at the hospital following an explosion in a laboratory where he was making propellants for air bag inflators earlier this week.
OSHA is leading the investigation into the industrial accident that cost 64-year-old Ronald Larson his life. The immediate cause of the explosion has yet to be fully been determined.
According to local media, Larson “was trapped inside and on site personnel were making efforts to try and extricate him from [Autoliv’s mixing] building.” The employee was successfully extricated from the building and taken to a local hospital with severe burns. Unfortunately, Larson had stopped breathing upon arrival at the hospital. Lifesaving efforts were in progress, but he was pronounced deceased a short time afterward.
Larson is reported to have been alone in the mixing portion of the building at the time of the explosion and subsequent fire. Two other workers were injured in the fire and in trying to rescue their co-worker. Their injuries are not life-threatening.
Autoliv is based in Sweden and has several facilities in Utah under the Autoliv North America brand. They are the world’s largest automotive safety supplier.
This Autoliv North America location in Promontory was the site of two previous industrial explosions and fires. In 2015 an explosion injured an employee there, and in 2013 a flash fire burned a worker’s arms and face. These prior incident will factor into OSHA’s investigation of the company’s safety practices and could lead to steeper fines if lapses in environmental health and safety are found to have been willful.
Helena, AL – OSHA has proposed fines of $195,144 against ABC Polymer Industries LLC after an employee suffered fatal injuries when she was pulled into a plastics recycling machine at the Alabama facility in 2017. OSHA has determined that ABC Polymer’s machine guarding failure was “willful” and resulted in what they’ve called a “preventable tragedy.”
Following their investigation, OSHA levied one willful citation against ABC Polymers for failing to provide machine guards which protect employees from hazards like getting caught in machinery and amputation dangers. Of the 16 violations found at the AL facility, the willful machine guarding failure amounts to the largest portion of the proposed fine total. OSHA’s Birmingham Area Office issued a statement: “This company’s failure to install machine guarding equipment has resulted in a preventable tragedy.”
ABC Polymer Industries was also cited for repeat, serious, and other-than-serious violations, including failing to evaluate all powered industrial trucks every three years, not having machine specific lockout tagout procedures, and failing to install a rail system on both sides of an open platform.
According to the local Coroner’s office, the employee, Eva Saenz (age 45), was working next to rollers and bent over to cut a piece of plastic when she got pulled up into the rollers and equipment. She was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency responders.
ABC Polymer Industries makes polypropylene bulk storage bags and flexible containers for industrial markets. They are one of the largest suppliers of flexible intermediate bulk containers in North America as well as a manufacturer of polypropylene concrete fibers, and extruded PP products, including microsynthetic and macrosynthetic concrete fibers.