OSHA Fines AL Hardwood Business after Worker Death

OSHA worker deathSelma, AL- Miller & Co. Inc. is facing $218,192 in OSHA penalties for failing to protect their employees from struck-by hazards and improper machine guarding after a worker was injured, resulting in their death.

Founded in 1923, Miller & Co. Inc. is an Alabama-based hardwood business producing lumber and flooring. A piece of wood fatally struck a worker who was attempting to clear a jammed machine, which then prompted an investigation.

OSHA cited Miller & Co. Inc. for failing to lockout equipment prior to beginning maintenance, ensuring machines were properly guarded and training employees on lockout/tagout procedures. Specifically, OSHA cited Miller & Co. Inc. with the following two citations: Willful – 29 CFR 1910.147 (c)(4)(i) and Serious – 29 CFR 1910.147 (c)(7)(i).

Jose Gonzalez, Mobile, Ala. area director, said in a statement, “Employers are required to identify safety hazards, implement safety measures and train workers on the proper use of safety equipment. Tragedies such as this can be prevented if employers comply with workplace standards, as required by law.”

Martin Technical extends our sympathy towards the family and circle of the worker that lost his life to this accident. Reflecting on the statement above,  tragedies can and should be prevented- which is why our mission to improve workforce safety is driven by people who care about the greater good.

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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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Workers Avoid Injury in Maine Paper Mill Explosion

Jay, ME- Malfunctioning machinery sent wood fiber and other debris shooting into the sky after a massive explosion at a paper mill in Jay, Maine, Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

All employees at the mill have since been accounted for and no injuries were reported.

At 12:06 p.m., Jay police and fire officials received reports of an explosion at a paper factory operated by Pixelle Specialty Paper Solutions at 300 Riley Rd., Davis said. Pixelle spokeswoman Roxie Lassetter said a rupture in the pressure valve of a digester, which creates pulp from wood chips to be used in the paper, caused the explosion.

Lassetter said none of the 165 employees who were inside the building were near the explosion. Some employees and people close to the plant were treated at the scene for minor respiratory issues from the debris in the air, but no one was taken to the hospital, she said.

Lassetter said the blast sent water, wood fiber, and chemicals used during the pulping process into the air during the blast. Environmental officials from the state will assess the area for any hazards, she said.

Pixelle has yet to determine the extent of the damage. Fire officials and representatives from the company will start to assess the site Thursday morning, though Lassetter said the area of the blast has sustained “significant damage.”

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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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Houston Explosion leads to 2 Fatalities

Houston,TX- A massive explosion rocked a northwest Houston neighborhood Friday morning, breaking windows, collapsing ceilings and even knocking houses off their foundations up to two miles away, resulting in two fatalities.

Houston fire officials say the chemical involved in the explosion was propylene.

As a hazardous chemical, propylene is covered by a number of federal environmental and worker safety regulations.

Companies have to file those inventories with the state, its local emergency planning committee and the local fire department.

On its 2015 inventory, Watson Grinding and Manufacturing did not include propylene. It only listed liquefied oxygen.

If a company releases propylene into the air, it is required to report that release in the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory. Most releases of propylene occur at larger chemical companies. Propylene is used in plastic manufacturing to make polyproplyene which is used in countless household products. It’s also used as a fuel in large and small facilities.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers propylene a hazardous material. There’s a number of worker safety rules that apply to the storage and handling of propylene and other liquefied petroleum gases that are similar to it.

The OSHA regulations related to propylene all likely applied to Watson Grinding and Manufacturing. The company was fined in 2013 for failing to properly control hazardous energy. Propylene would likely be covered by those rules.

According to the company’s website, Watson Grinding and Manufacturing provides machining, grinding, lapping & thermal spray coatings to customers. It claims to specialize in the turning and milling of exotic alloys, hard metals and large parts.

“The quality of our in-house manufacturing processes is assured by our ISO 9001:2008 certification, team of QA/QC certified professionals and our fully equipped in-house Metallurgical Laboratory,” the website states.

At 9:30 am, Houston Fire Department says HazMat crews have secured the 2,000 gallon tank of  propylene gas that was leaking at the blast site. There is still reportedly a small fire burning.Houston fatalities explosion

According to a news released dated  November, 2015,  the company is located in more than 84,000 square feet of facilities, and employs more than 125 people.

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Worker Killed at Oregon Construction Site

oregon death construction Eugene, OR- Officials with Oregon Occupational Safety and Health are investigating a fatal accident that killed a worker Saturday morning at a Beltline construction site.

According to Eugene Springfield Fire, a worker in his early sixties was pinched between an excavator and a barrier near the Delta Highway and Beltline interchange just before 11 a.m. When first responders arrived, the worker had been freed and was transported to Riverbend hospital with “serious” injuries.

The Oregon Department of Transportation said the accident halted work on the project for some time.

According to officials, the worker was an employee of contractor Hamilton Construction. In a statement, the company confirmed the death and told KEZI 9 News, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and co-workers. We lost a great employee and friend.”

The company said that safety is it’s top priority and will cooperate with authorities to investigate the cause of the accident.

OSHA said it has 180 days to complete the investigation.

According to the US Bureau of Labor statistics, in 2018 there were nearly 5,000 public workplace deaths with over 1,000 of those being construction related — accounting for over 20 percent of workplace fatalities.

In Oregon, of 62 public workplace fatalities, 11 were in construction.

OSHA specifies four key dangers they coin the “fatal four” in construction;  falls, electrocution, being struck by an object, or getting caught in or between something. Training workers and management and meeting OSHA standards regarding the “fatal four” could potentially lead to more regulated and less fatal incidents.

According to ODOT, work is being done in the center median of the Beltline highway, closing center lanes in both directions throughout the weekend. Officials said lane closures are still expected to end by 6 a.m. Monday morning

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Family Sues GE Appliances after Worker’s Death

Kentucky, USA- The family of a Kentucky man killed in a workplace incident has filed a lawsuit against his employer, GE Appliances, as well as other parties.

Steve Herring, who has worked for GE Appliances for more than two decades, died in February after being pinned by machinery while working on a refrigerator-building assembly line. News sources are reporting that the state OSHA’s investigation into the workplace incident found that it could have been caused by an inadvertent activation of an improperly positioned gate interlock control.worker killed in machine incident

The lawsuit filed in Jefferson Circuit Court last week names General Electric Company, Design Safety Engineering Inc., Doerfer Corperation, Doerfer Acquisition Company, JR Automation Technologies LLC, Haier US Appliance Solutions Inc. and Kentucky resident Mark Miller as defendants.

The lawsuit claims that the assembly line Herring was working on was “unreasonably dangerous” and in “defective condition.” It alleges that there were no instructions or warnings about the hazards on the line — and that the companies being sued were aware of the defects. The suit requests punitive and compensatory damages.

According to Kentucky OSHA, GE made changes to the safety programming on an assembly line that was identical to the one at which Herring was pinned following a 2014 incident. However, the company didn’t fix the line where Herring worked until after Herring died.

An inspection conducted by the agency after the fatality resulted in GE being cited for seven safety violations and fined $98,000, which the company is appealing.

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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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