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 Company 150k after Employee Amputation

Lawrence Township, NJ- BWay Corp.—doing business as Mauser Packaging Solutions—received a citation from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for workplace safety and health hazards after an employee suffered an amputation on Sept. 26, 2019, at its Lawrence Township facility. The company now faces $151,329 in penalties.

OSHA inspected the facility after being notified that an employee was cleaning a machine when the amputation occurred. The agency cited BWay Corp. for failing to use lockout/tagout procedures to protect employees from hazardous energy. OSHA cited the company for similar violations at multiple facilities between 2016 and 2019.

“Workers servicing or maintaining machines are at risk of serious injury, including amputations, if hazardous energy is not properly controlled,” OSHA Marlton Area Office Director Paula Dixon-Roderick said in the statement. “This company must correct the hazards identified to protect workers’ safety.”

The company had 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 before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. 

OSHA fines NJ Company 150k after Employee Amputation

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Garment Factory Fire in India Claims 7 Lives

Ahmedabad, India- Seven people reportedly died in a garment factory fire in India in February, according to reports from local news sources. On the Saturday night, the Nandan Denim factory in Ahmedabad caught fire, which raged through Sunday morning. According to a 2018/2019 annual report, the factory works with a number of major brands, including Ann Taylor, Zara, Ralph Lauren and Polo, and Target.

The Indian Express reports that the fire started in the shirting part of the factory, where there was no ventilation. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but police reportedly said that a preliminary probe revealed there was only one exit on the first floor, which was accessible only by a ladder, and there were no fire safety measures in place. A representative from the Labour and Employment Department said that the factory would be closed until further review of the safety initiatives in place.

While it’s rare, it’s not unheard of for garment workers to die while on the job. In December, a fire at a handbag factory in Delhi killed 43 workers, and the 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh killed over 1,000 garment workers. The Nandan factory has certifications from eco-friendly groups like the Better Cotton Initiative, Global Organic Textile Standard, and Oeko-Tex, though those primarily certify the safety of the chemicals used in manufacturing. Nandan’s annual report has a “Social, Health, and Safety” section that reads, “Our goal remains to achieve ‘zero fatality’ and we are committed to achieving this through the effective management of health and safety risks.” Police are still investigating the factors which led to the accident.

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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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Fatality in Pallet Factory and 2 other Workers Injured in Sydney

Sydney, Australia- A 30-year-old man was crushed to death at a pallet factory in Sydney’s west, one of three industrial accidents across the city on Wednesday. Ambulance crews were called to a pallet factory at Forrester Road in St Marys about 5:40am, where they found a 30-year-old man with severe head injuries. Paramedics treated the man at the scene but he could not be saved.

As mentioned, this was only one of the multiple recent industrial accidents in this area of Australia this week.

In the city’s east, a man is in a critical condition following a workplace accident at an address in Point Piper. Emergency crews were called to a home on Longworth Avenue about 7:30am, after receiving reports a man had fallen 8 to 10 meters from a scaffolding fall.

In Pyrmont, a worker has been taken to hospital with head injuries after he was struck by falling pipes.

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Fatality at Australian Power Plant Reportedly Caused by Arc Flash

Yallourn, Victoria, Australia – A fatal explosion at an Australian Power Station is said to have been the result of a phase-to-phase arc flash. A unit controller with more than 30 years’ experience was critically injured during the explosion in the southeastern-most state of Australia which lead to his death the next day.

EnergyAustralia has identified arc flash as the cause of the explosion at the Yallourn Power Station, however a local union representative is not confident in that explanation and staff at the power station say they are afraid to go to work.

Graeme Edwards died after a high-voltage circuit breaker he was working on exploded last month. Edwards was re-installing a high-voltage circuit breaker on one of the plant’s four generation units when the explosion occurred, a procedure known as “racking.” EnergyAustralia stated that racking is a routine job but potentially hazardous. In this case, the unit burst into flames that burnt most of Edwards’ body. The worker was flown to hospital in a critical condition but died a day later.fatality arc flash

EnergyAustralia said it believed the “sudden electrical discharge” was caused by a “phase-to-phase arc flash.” However, they have yet to determine what caused the short circuit which is the source of union and worker worries about the safety of the workplace.

An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion due to a fault condition or short circuit when either a phase to ground or phase to phase conductor is connected and current flows through the air. Arc flashes cause electrical equipment to explode and can result in an arc-plasma fireball with temperatures in excess of 35,000° F. For reference, the surface of the sun is 9000° F. These extreme temperatures cause rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. The arc flash/blast can vaporize all solid copper conductors as they expand up to 67,000 times original volume. The arc flash produces fire, intense light, pressure waves, and flying shrapnel.

Yallorn Power Station workers will not be asked to use affect equipment involved in the incident until EnergyAustralia determines that it is safe to do so. An executive of Yallourn Power Station has said that risk assessments are being conducted and that all safety controls will be reviewed prior to resuming work.

A representative of the union which advocates for the workers at Yallourn Power station has voiced concerns that workers were not provided with the most up-to-date protective gear, including arc flash suits, similar to what bomb disposal workers use.

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Georgia Automotive Manufacturer Faces OSHA Fines

Suwanee, GA – PAI Industries, Inc. faces close to $56,000 in federal OSHA fines following an inspection by investigators for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The auto parts manufacturer was issued 14 citations for serious violations following an OSHA inspection in the fall of 2014. The inspection was part of a regional The Change in OSHA Lockout Update osha finescanvassing of automotive industries, according to a press release from the U.S. Labor Department.

OSHA cited PAI for not ensuring machinery could not accidentally start up during maintenance and servicing, an industry practice known as Lockout/Tagout. Additional violations included not requiring eye protection; exposing workers to trip and fall hazards; not providing a workplace free from recognized hazards; failure to implement a noise monitoring program; and not ensuring fire extinguishers were properly mounted and labeled.

“The results from this on-site enforcement inspection illustrate the need for OSHA’s focus on the automotive parts industry,” said William Fulcher director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East Area Office. “Employers can’t only rely on OSHA to identify hazards; they must be proactive in protecting the health and safety of their workers.”

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