Auburn, New South Wales – Craig Tanner (42), father of three, was killed in a tragic lockout accident at an industrial ink manufacturer in West Sydney, Australia. Two other workers were hospitalized after also being trapped in the vat of ink. The three workers were cleaning the ink vat as part of a routine maintenance check when they became stuck at the DIC Australia Ink factory.
The men became trapped when a mixing blade unexpectedly started up while the tank was being cleaned at the factory. Tanner was working at DIC as a contractor. He was inside and cleaning the tank when the blade started moving and cut into his legs.
The vat was a cylinder shape, about 26 feet high with a mixing blade inside. Rescuers used manhole access at the bottom of the of the confined space to reach the workers. “Ink slush” at the bottom of the vat plus the confined nature of the space made the rescue extremely difficult. It took four hours to free the men who were covered in black ink, which further complicated their rescue and treatment.
A thorough investigation will be made to identify cause(s) of the accident, with special attention paid to how the mixing arm of the large vat accidentally switched on when the men were inside it at the time.
Salinas, CA – Growers Street Cooling has agreed to pay $310,000 in costs and civil penalties as a result of legal action brought by the Monterey County District Attorney following a 2013 worker fatality at the Salinas-based produce-cooling company.
The death of Jose Juan Serrano (30) prompted the Monterey County District Attorney to file a worker fatality action against Growers Street Cooling. Serrano was working on a large piece of machinery at the Salinas facility in 2013 when a piece of equipment fell on him.
On the day of his death, Serrano was applying plastic covering to pallets of strawberries. Prosecutors said a portion of a pallet broke off and became lodged, causing the machine to stop automatically. However, Serrano failed to press the emergency-shutoff switch before dislodging the wood, which caused a large counterweight to fall and kill him instantly.
Serrano had been working for Growers Street Cooling as a machine operator for only 16 days prior to the accident. According to the DA, Serrano was assigned to operate a TransFresh Tectrol – a piece of heavy machine which wraps pallets of strawberries in plastic wrap and uses hydraulics to squeeze the strawberry containers in on the pallet for easier shipping and handling. As the compression occurs, a large counterweight on the opposite end balances the machine.
The day Serrano was killed, he was operating the Tectrol machine alone. When a wooden pallet became lodged inside the machine and caused it to jam, Serrano climbed behind the machine and used a crowbar to release the wood. Unfortunately, he did not de-energize, turn off the machine, or perform any lock-out/tag-out procedures. As soon as the jam was cleared, the machine reactivated and a large counterweight crushed him against the wall.
California state law and federal safety standards require businesses using any kind of heavy machinery to train workers in proper lockout/tagout procedures to minimize accidental injury and death. Lockout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, thereby helping to prevent the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities. The Monterey DA found that Growers Street Cooling never trained Serrano on lockout procedures before assigning him to operate the machine which killed him.
Additionally, the DA said that Growers Street Cooling did not maintain a written lockout/tagout policy or training program, and charged that they systematically violated worker safety laws. OSHA CFR 29 1910.147 provides regulations on LOTO (LockOut/TagOut) and 25 states have their own approved lockout tagout and worker safety standards. Often times, the most overlooked aspect of a lockout tagout program is failure to provide equipment specific lockout procedures. A general corporate written policy does not meet the requirements of OSHA.
The Monterey County court-ordered injunction requires Growers Street Cooling to maintain and implement written hazardous energy control procedures for all heavy machinery and maintain and implement written training programs for lockout/tagout procedures. Additionally, the Monterey DA ordered the company to conduct annual inspections of its lockout/tagout procedures and not assign employees to operate any machinery unless they are trained about the machine’s hazards. According to the DA, Growers Street Cooling has recently provided proof that compliance is underway.
Watkins, MN – A maintenance worker was killed last week when he became pinned in the industrial machinery he was working on at International Barrier Technology. Rescue workers freed the man from the equipment and began life saving efforts, but sadly, he died at the scene.
The worker was identified as Todd Shoutz, 51, of Litchfield (MN). Shoutz, a maintenance worker at Barrier Technology, was reportedly working on a machine and became pinned in a piece of equipment. Despite the efforts of emergency teams on the scene, the employee succumbed to his injuries after being freed from the equipment.
The International Barrier Technology plant in MN processes building materials to make them fire-resistant.
Helena, AL – An employee of ABC Polymer Industries was killed on the job this month. Eva Saenz, 45, was sucked into an industrial machine after getting caught in the roller at the Alabama plastics factory.
According to Shelby County Coroner Lina Evans, it appeared that Saenz “was working next to the rollers and bent down to cut some of the plastic…with a box cutter and actually got pulled up into the rollers.” Upon their arrival, fire medics determined that the victim was deceased and the Shelby County Coroner’s Office was notified. Coroner Evans said Saenz was pronounced dead at the scene from blunt force injuries incurred in the industrial machinery.
The ABC Polymer Industries factory in Helena (AL) makes extruded polypropylene products including, bulk bags, synthetic snow, fibrillated yarns, and specific fibers for concrete. According to their website, ABC Polymer is one of the largest suppliers in North America of flexible intermediate bulk containers and polypropylene concrete fibers.
Cedarburg, WI – OSHA plans to fine a Cedarburg (WI) manufacturing company nearly $125,000 following an inspection prompted by the death of a lathe operator and their finding that locks had been bypassed.
In March of this year, a 36-year-old employee of Carlson Tool & Manufacturing Corp. died after being caught in his lathe’s operating spindle as he polished a metal cylinder.
OSHA found that Carlson allowed the lathe and other machines to be operated with their “safety interlocks” bypassed, thereby exposing workers to entanglement hazards. Safety interlocks were bypassed on nine different machines, according to OSHA. Because of this disregard for safety, OSHA has classified the violations as “willful.”
Additionally, Carlson was cited for not following proper procedures to power down equipment to prevent sudden starts. These types of procedures are known as lockout/tagout.
Carlson Tool & Manufacturing Corp. does drilling and machining at the Cedarburg (WI) plant, as well as building tooling.
Sandy, UT – An employee of the Reams grocery store in Sandy, UT suffered a fatal workplace accident when she fell into an industrial mixer on February 3, 2016.
45-year-old Carmen “Jackie” Lindhart, was killed in the bakery department of Reams Grocery when “she became entangled with the augers in the mixer causing her to be pulled into the mixing vat,” according to the Sandy Police Department.
A co-worker heard Lindhart screaming and ran to turn off the machine. Unfortunately, she suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. Sandy Police state that they are not sure how she became snarled with the machine, “but loose clothing is suspected to have been a factor.” Utah Occupational Safety and Health is actively investigating the incident.