AL Auto Workers Exposed to Electrical and Amputation Hazards

electrical amputation hazardsAuburn, AL – Arkal Automotive USA Inc. faces $47,857 in proposed federal workplace safety penalties after an investigation of its Auburn (AL) plant revealed that workers were exposed to electrical and amputation hazards.

According to OSHA, Arkal Automotive was cited for inadequate machine guarding, failure to implement lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures to keep workers safe during machine maintenance and servicing, failing to implement safety procedures for entering a robotic cage, and for exposing employees to hazardous energy.

OSHA’s fines and citations were issued following a complaint that employees were not properly protected while entering injection molding machines. Joseph Roesler, OSHA’s area office director, stated that “Arkal Automotive USA Inc. failed to identify and correct hazards to ensure the safety and health of their employees.”

Multiple lockout/tagout failures were revealed in the course of the OSHA investigation. Arkal Automotive was found lacking proper lockout procedures for working with robots or molds, including when removing parts or cleaning molds. Additionally, safety inspectors found an insufficient amount of the required lockout equipment for employees to use for hazardous energy control. The OSHA complaint said the company failed to ensure that if more than one employee was working in a robotic area, each employee had individual lockout devices.

It was also reported that Arkal Automotive failed to ensure continuity of lockout procedures on shift change and did not have adequate machine guarding when employees reached under a portion of a robot cage to retrieve parts and pass to the operator while the machine was running.

According to OSHA records, the same facility was issued four serious violations in 2017 for lockout hazards and other violations.

Arkal Automotive is a company based in Israel, with production plants worldwide. The Auburn (AL) injection molding plant opened in 2011, and is their only production plant in the US. The Auburn facility produces door carriers, wheel liners and other functional auto parts.

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MN Worker Dead After Falling Into Biomass Hopper

Benson, MN – Minnesota safety regulators are investigating the death of a worker who fell into a hopper last week at the Benson Power plant in central Minnesota. The Benson biomass plant supplies power to Xcel Energy and has previously been fined by OSHA for hazardous energy concerns.

Rescue personnel arrived and administered lifesaving measures on the scene, and the victim was later transported to a local hospital where he died. Authorities have yet to release the man’s name.

The Benson (MN) facility (previously known as FibroMinn) was fined several times in the past for OSHA violations, including a $1,050 fee in 2012 for inadequate hazardous energy control and another $11,000 fine in 2012 for not providing employee right-to know information and poorly storing flammable liquids and exposed wiring.

Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) and Hazardous Energy Control or Control of Hazardous Energy all refer to the same standard of preventing unexpected start up or movement of equipment. The terms are used interchangably, although “Lockout” is more universally used in the United States as it is the term OSHA uses, while ANSI uses “Control of Hazardous Energy ” in their standard, which is used more often by non-US entities.

Benson Power burns turkey manure and wood chips to generate power for Xcel Energy, but is expected to shut down soon as a cost saving measure. MN state utility regulators approved Xcel’s plan to close the 55-megawatt Benson plant and two other biomass electricity generators. Xcel anticipates that the buyout will lead to long-term savings of $345 million.

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CA Company Prosecuted for Lockout Death

lockout deathSalinas, 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.

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Worker Pinned in Machine While Cleaning Bolts

Columbus, IN – A worker cleaning at Rightway Fasteners was injured after becoming pinned in a machine at the plant last week. The employee was believed to be cleaning bolts when the accident occurred. Columbus (IN) firefighters responded to the industrial accident.

The worker’s name has yet to be released. He was pinned in the machine and then extricated by other Rightway employees before the fire department arrived. The employee was treated for cardiac arrest at the scene by firefighters and amworker cleaningbulance personnel then transported to Columbus Regional Hospital.

Approximately 3 million American workers service equipment – these employees face the greatest risk of injury from hazardous energy. Compliance with OSHA’s lockout/tagout standard prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.

Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) and Hazardous Energy Control/Control of Hazardous Energy refers to the same safety standard designed to preventing unexpected start up or movement of equipment during routine maintenance. In a study conducted by the United Auto Workers, 20% of the fatalities that occurred among their members between 1973 and 1995 were attributed to inadequate hazardous energy control procedures.

Rightway Fasteners specializes in cold forming, thread rolling, heat treatment and surface treatment of high-torque tension bolts, screws, shafts and pins for the automotive industry. They employ 339 employees. Toyota is Rightway’s largest customer, according to the company.

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