Worker Deaths Spur MSHA Safety Alert on Electrical Hazards

Arlington, VA- Prompted by reports of three recent fatalities involving electricity, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert.

Electricity has killed three people in the mining industry since August 7, 2019.

An electrician contacted an energized component of a 4,160 VAC electrical circuit while adjusting the linkage between the disconnect lever and the internal components of the panel that supplied power to the plant feed belt motors. A contract electrician contacted an energized 120 VAC conductor while working inside a fire suppression system’s electrical
panel. An electrician contacted an exposed energized connector while troubleshooting a 995 VAC flooded bed scrubber motor circuit on-board a continuous mining machine.Electrical Safety Alert

MSHA offers numerous best practices for electrical incident prevention. Among them:

-Perform lockout/tagout procedures on circuits before working on electrical equipment.

-Don’t rush, and never work alone. Talk with co-workers and confirm your plan is safe.

-Identify and control all hazardous energy sources before conducting tasks, and follow safe work procedures.

-Train miners on equipment they may use.

-Always perform troubleshooting without power. If you must troubleshoot an energized circuit, use properly rated personal protective equipment to prevent hazards.

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Deaths of Four Employees lead to $1M+ Fine for Illinois Company

Deaths of Four Employees lead to $1M+ Fine for Illinois CompanyWaukegan, 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.

OSHA provides resources on electrical safety and using forklifts when working with hazardous materials. Proper electrical safety services and education could prevent this accidents in the workplace.

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Dollar Tree Faces $125k in Penalties for OSHA Violations

Athens, GA- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited national discount retailer Dollar Tree Stores Inc. at its store on Atlanta Highway in Athens, Georgia. The company faces $125,026 in proposed penalties for exposing employees to safety hazards.

OSHA cited the company for exposing employees to struck-by, trip and fall hazards by failing to keep passageways and walking surfaces in a clean, orderly and sanitary condition. OSHA found unsafely stacked cases of merchandise and blocked emergency exits, and cited Dollar Tree for not maintaining access to portable fire extinguishers.

“These hazardous conditions unnecessarily exposed employees to potentially life-threatening injury,” said OSHA Area Director William Fulcher, in Atlanta-East. “There is no reason why the employees in this store should have been subjected to the same hazards previously identified and cited at other Dollar Tree locations.”

Dollar Tree Stores has a long history of serious and repeated violations related to unsafe stacking of merchandise and blocked exits. Since 2015, OSHA has cited the Chesapeake, Virginia-based company for similar violations at locations in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Wisconsin, Idaho, Texas, New York, and Rhode Island.

OSHA provides resources on safe working surfaces and exit route requirements.

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.

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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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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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