Worker Fatally Struck in Pressure Release Accident

pressure releaseTar 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.

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Worker Dies After Leg Caught in Machinery

Canton, OH – A Fresh Mark employee died recently after his leg was caught in a waste grinder. Ohio’s Stark County Coroner’s Office stated that 62-year-old Samuel Martinez stepped into a chute and was caught in a waste grinder at the meat processing plant outside of Cleveland. employee diedAuthorities say he died at the scene.

Fresh Mark Inc. supplies grocery stores, restaurants, and food service companies with bacon, ham, hot dogs and deli meats.

Fresh Mark officials are working with authorities to determine the cause of the accident.

Machine safety is crucial to workplace safety. Machine Safety and Lockout Tagout procedures, training, and awareness save lives, maintain production schedules, and keep machinery operational on a daily basis and are the foundation of a safe and efficient workplace.

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Risk Assessment Could Have Saved Worker’s Life

Singapore – MW Group faces a $200,000 fine resulting from a fatal workplace electrocution. Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower has ruled that a professional Arc Flash Risk Assessment and safe work procedures could have prevented the 2013 fatal electrocution of a worker at the MW Group Pte Ltd’s Pantech Business Hub.

Following a five day trial, MW Group Pte Ltd was convicted for workplace safety and health lapses. The director of the local Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate stated that the employer knew that the technicians were exposed to the risk of electrocution, yet MW Group failed to provide workers with a step-by-step guide on how to do the job safely.

On the day of the electrocution, a MW Group employee was asked to test and calibrate the ARS machine. The worker held a high voltage probe to test the ARS from 2kV to 12kV and during the test he fell backwards and became unconscious. He died later that day, with the cause of death certified as electrocution.

MW Group, an equipment calibration and testing company, is being fined for failing to conduct a specific risk assessment and establish safe work procedures for the calibration and testing of an arc reflection system (ARS) machine. Safety investigations revealed that although MW Group had conducted a generic risk assessment for electrical testing prior to the accident and electrocution was identified as the only hazard, no control measures were put in place. The Energy Market Authority, in its investigations into the accident, concluded that no proper test fixtures were set up before the start of the high voltage calibration works. Additionally, it was determine that the worker did not maintain a safe working distance of approximately 1.5m from the “live” terminals.

The Ministry of Manpower stated that as the DC output voltage level of the ARS gradually increased, this difference between the worker’s body and the probe to test the ARS he was holding resulted in a flashover, or arc flash – a dangerous type of electrical explosion.

Singapore’s director of occupational safety and health inspectorate said that “The employer knew that the technicians were exposed to the risk of electrocution…yet failed to provide the technicians with a step-by-step guide on how to do the job safely.”

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Fatal Robotics Accident at AL Auto Parts Plant Due to Lockout Failures

Cusseta, AL –  Ajin USA, Alliance Total Solutions, and Joynus Staffing Corp., have been issued fines of over $2.5 million by the Department of Labor. The auto parts supplier and the two staffing agencies it employed were issued 27 separate OSHA citations for safety violations following the investigation of the June 2016 death of Regina Allen Elsea.

The fines and citations came in response to the death of a 20-year-old worker who was crushed to death in a robotic machine. Tragically, the accident took place just two weeks before the woman’s wedding.

OSHA’s investigators reported that Elsea and three coworkers entered a robotic station to clear a sensor after the assembly line stopped. The robot within unexpectedly restarted, and the woman was crushed to death inside the machine.

Ajin USA makes parts for Hyundai and Kia and employs around 700 workers at it’s Cusseta plant. Alliance and Joynus, with offices in Opelika (AL), provide about 250 temporary workers to Ajin USA, as reported in a DOL statement.

OSHA is calling this a “senseless tragedy,” and has determined that the fatality could have been prevented by following federally mandated safety precautions such as lockout/tagout and machine guarding.

Citations and causes of the accident included the following: Failure to utilize energy control procedures to prevent machinery from starting up during maintenance and servicing; workers’ exposure to caught-in, struck-by and crushing hazards by allowing them to enter a robotic cell without shutting down and securing hazardous stored energy according to safety procedures; Failure to provide safety locks to isolation hazardous energy; and employee exposure to crushing and amputation hazards due to improper machine guarding.

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Fatal TN Industrial Accident was Entirely Preventable

Lebanon, TN – Lockout training and written procedures could have saved the life of Carlex Glass America worker Catherine White.

White, 51, of Lebanon (TN) died in an industrial accident last week after suffering a severe head injury at the Carlex Glass America plant. Local lockout trainingpolice reported that the employee had encountered problems with a work station printer. According to police, White “put her head inside the machine in an attempt to address the issue when the printer suddenly initiated its work cycle, most likely due to White inadvertently activating the machine’s sensors as if the next windshield had entered the machine.” During the process, White suffered a severe head injury. Paramedics arrived shortly afterward and pronounced her dead.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce is investigating the fatal industrial accident.

White had worked for Carlex Glass America for just under 18 years. Most recently, she worked as a production technician operating equipment used to manufacture windshields.

Lockout/Tagout procedures and employee training could have saved the life of Carlex Glass America worker Catherine White.

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$6Mil Settlement in Bumble Bee Accident Felony Case, No Jail Time for Plant Managers

Los Angeles, CA – Bumble Bee Foods will pay a record $6 million to settle criminal charges filed after a worker burned to death in a Lockout/Tagout accident at their Santa Fe Springs (CA) plant in 2012.

October 2012, 62-year-old Jose Melena was cooked to death insidaccident felony industrial ovene a Bumble Bee Foods industrial oven. Melena was making repairs inside the pressurized steam cooker when co-workers unwittingly loaded the oven with 12,000 pounds of tuna and turned it on. This failure in employee safety training and lockout/tagout procedures resulted in Melena being tragically and avoidably cooked to death. Felony charges were filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney in April 2015 – Bumble Bee Foods and two of its employees were charged with willfully violating safety rules and originally faced up to 3 years in prison.

This six million dollar settlement represents the largest payout in the criminal prosecution of a workplace safety case involving a single victim in California, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Under the settlement agreements, Bumble Bee will spend $3 million to buy new ovens at its Santa Fe Springs plant. The new ovens will not require that employees enter the machines, and Bumble Bee will be required to implement further safety measures. They will also pay $1.5 million in restitution to the family of victim Jose Melena, $750,000 to the district attorney’s environmental enforcement fund, and another $750,000 in additional fines, penalties and court costs.

Once it complies with those conditions, Bumble Bee (which is owned by private equity firm Lion Capital LLP) will be allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge, according to the district attorney’s office.

“While this resolution will help bring closure with the district attorney’s office, we will never forget the unfathomable loss of our colleague Jose Melena and we are committed to ensuring that employee safety remains a top priority at all our facilities,” Bumble Bee said in a written statement.

The plant’s director of operations, Angel Rodriguez, has agreed to perform 320 hours of community service, pay $11,400 in fines and other penalties and take workplace safety classes. If he completes those conditions he will be allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor rather than serving 3 years in prison.

Under a separate agreement, Saul Florez, the plant’s former safety manager, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to criminal safety violations and was sentenced to three years probation. Florez was also ordered to complete 30 days of community labor, attend safety classes and pay $19,000 in fines. Upon completion of those conditions he will be eligible to have his felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor, prosecutors said.

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