Mobile, AL – OSHA has issued fines of over $75,000 to an Alabama packaging manufacturer for failing to protect employees from the hazards of moving parts. Ampac Mobile Holdings LLC (operating as ProAmpac) was found to have been exposing employees to caught-in and struck-by hazards at their Mobile (AL) facility. Federal workplace safety investigators are charging $75,156 in penalties for inadequate machine guarding and lockout/tagout procedures violations.
OSHA was alerted to the Ampac/ProAmpac facility after an employee suffered a severe hand injury as a result of getting caught in a piece of equipment. In a separate accident, an Ampac employee’s finger was lacerated when struck by moving machine parts.
In the course of their investigation, OSHA determined that Ampac failed to use proper machine guarding measures, and failed to control hazardous energy by implementing effective lockout/tagout procedures.
Unfortunately, these two accidents could have been prevented. As OSHA’s Acting Mobile Area Office Director stated, “A comprehensive safety and health program, includ[ing] an evaluation and correction for amputation hazards, could have identified and prevented these injuries.”
An estimated 3 million American workers service equipment in the course of their jobs. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not effectively implemented. Compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents approximately 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Additionally, it has been estimated that workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.
Lakewood, NJ – A preventable lockout/tagout accident at a New Jersey ice cream manufacturer has left one employee missing a finger and the company owing $103,000 in fines to OSHA.
OSHA fined the ice cream maker, Mister Cookie Face, located near Rutgers University, $103,000 after an employee lost a finger and fractured another while performing maintenance on a machine. An inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor found numerous “machine safety hazards,” according to a release from the department.
The department cited the company, which manufactures ice cream bars and sandwiches, for not having a safety lockout procedure on the machine that would have prevented it from starting unexpectedly during maintenance activities.
Lockout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the startup of machinery or equipment that may result in injuring a worker. As OSHA’s regional director stated, “this injury could have been avoided with worker training and the use of lockout/tagout procedures.”
Mister Cookie Face was also penalized for not making sure employees used “personal protective equipment,” not providing an eyewash station where employees used corrosive chemicals and for exposing its employees to “bloodborne pathogen hazards.”
The Mister Cookie Face is owned by Fieldbrook Foods Corp of Dunkirk, New York.
Green Bay, WI – JBS Green Bay faces $221,726 in federal workplace safety fines after equipment violations led to a lockout/tagout accident that injured an employee’s hand. OSHA issued one willful violation and 10 serious violations after their investigation documented a lack of machine guarding and lockout failures at the Green Bay (WI) beef processing facility.
According to the Department of Labor, a JBS employee “reached into a machine to move a box when the rake activated and caught his left hand, pulling it into the machine.” The employee suffered a fracture, puncture wounds, lacerations, and a pinched nerve as a result.
More than half of the $221,726 total fine was for the willful violation. OSHA defines willful violations as those “in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.”
JBS was cited for not having machine guards which protect workers from dangerous parts and moving machinery. OSHA’s inspection also noted a serious violation related to failure to turn off machinery prior to maintenance or service work.
Another of the serious violations was for not having “developed and documented” lockout tagout procedures. These written documents outline equipment-specific instructions for how to safely de-energize equipment. Lockout/Tagout safety measures keep workers safe while they perform maintenance and service tasks like the act of clearing a jammed machine that precipitated this accident.
A transport company has been ordered to pay more than $63,000 in fines and court fee’s after a worker’s hand was crushed between two containers that were being moved with a forklift in Western Australia.
Mineral Trans WA and another entity operated Cranes Haulage in August 2014 when a truck driver transported sea containers to a yard in Esperance, Western Australia to be unloaded with a forklift by the general manager.
The truck driver was releasing twist locks that attached two containers when they became stuck, and as they were separated his left hand was crushed. He was transported to a local area hospital. He required skin grafts and pins to repair open fractures.
Mineral Trans pleaded guilty in Esperance Magistrates Court to failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace, and by that failure, caused serious harm to an employee.The company also admitted allowing an employee to operate a forklift without the appropriate licence.
Mineral Trans was fined a total of $58,000 and was also ordered to pay $5542 in costs.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Ian Munns said, “the hazard should have been foreseen. The worker should have been prohibited from removing the twist locks from the bottom container until the top container was safely removed from the pedestrian area.”
Following the incident, Cranes Haulage stopped separating sea containers and the general manager has obtained an appropriate licence to operate a forklift.
Dickson, TN – On August 25, Dickson Electric Systems substation supervisor Zach Spicer suffered second-degree burns to his face and neck in an arc flash incident at the DES Old White Bluff Substation.
According to the victim’s sister-in-law, Spicer “was accessing a breaker cabinet, high voltage side when contact or an arc formed, causing an electrical fault that released heat and energy…He remembers stammering around and seeing everyone’s expression looking at him.”
Two days after the burns, doctors determined that Spicer had not lost his eyesight and during the skin graft surgery they were able to not only save his right hand, but also his fingertips.
Spicer remains at the Vanderbilt Medical Center Burn Unit where he has undergone three surgeries and numerous procedures.
A second Dickson Electric Systems employee also suffered severe burns to his face and neck in the incident. He was released the evening of the accident and is recovering at home.
An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion caused by 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, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment.
Temperatures can exceed 35,000° F. For reference, the surface of the sun is 9000° F. These extreme temperatures rapid heat and expand surrounding air – the extreme change in pressure is known as an arc blast. The arc flash and blast will likely vaporize all solid copper conductors. These conductors expand up to 67,000 times their original volume when vaporized. The arc flash and blast produce fire, intense light, pressure waves, and flying shrapnel.
When an arc flash happens, it does so without warning and is lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to any nearby people. Proper safety and protection measures must be taken to limit the damage from an arc flash which include conducting an arc flash study, short circuit study, and NFPA 70E electrical safety training.
Pueblo, CO – After suffering a severe head injury during her time in a prison-work program, former Colorado inmate Kandy Fuelling is suing Pueblo Wood Products and the supervisor who allegedly had assured her that the saw was turned off.
When lumber got jammed on a conveyor belt at the Pueblo sawmill where she’d been working through a prison-work program, Fuelling obeyed the prodding of her foreman and fellow inmates. She climbed below the conveyor belt and reached toward the wood. Fellow inmates and on-site supervisors assured her that they had turned the saw off and it was safe to yank the lumber from under the conveyor belt.
According to documents filed at the U.S. District Court in Denver, “upon dislodging the wood, and without warning, a saw came straight at Ms. Fuelling’s head, slicing through her helmet (and scalp, causing her to bleed profusely). Ms. Fuelling screamed as loud as she could, but her voice was muffled by the noise of the saw.”
Fuelling, 48, is also suing the Colorado Department of Corrections and several of it’s employees, including those who drove her back to La Vista Correctional Facility instead of taking her to a hospital. The lawsuit says the still-bleeding and screaming woman should have been rushed immediately to a hospital emergency room. Once she was seen at a nearby hospital, Fuelling had a 4- to 5-inch scalp laceration and received 15 stitches.
At the time of the accident, Fuelling was serving prison time for escape and being an habitual traffic offender. Fuelling has since been released from prison and placed in community corrections.
The lawsuit alleges that “corners were cut and on-the-job-safety training took a back seat to profit margins earned by Pueblo Wood, CCI and DOC.” Lawyers claim that Fuelling’s safety training consisted of receiving four pages of tips including advice for how to avoid avoid back injuries and getting cuts from sharp objects.
Tiverton, Devon, UK – An employee’s hand was crushed and may require amputation as the result of an industrial accident in England. Heathcoat Fabrics’ attitude toward machine safety has been described by Exeter prosecutors as “willful blindness.”
Heathcoat Fabrics, located in the Southwestern portion of the English isle, has been fined the equivalent of nearly $385,000 for admittedly “contravening health and safety regulations by failing to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the L-Stenter mangle at their plant in Westexe.”
Local officials began investigating Heathcoat following an incident in 2016 which led to employee Anthony Seward suffering a serious crush injury to his left hand. Seward did not realize that the rollers were on when he was preparing and cleaning the L-Stenter mangle for the night. His left hand became entangled in the machine which had been outfitted with a stop-cord, but not the light curtain that it should have had.
Light curtains are installed to automatically stop machine operations when a beam of light is broken. The machine at Heathcoat Fabrics had a light curtain installed in 2009, but it broke down in January 2014. Replacement parts had been ordered, but were not installed. Instead, a risk assessment by the employer decided that the use of an emergency stop-cord would be a sufficient safety measure.
The local prosecutor has said: “This case is about the fact that [Heathcoat Fabrics] failed to reinstate the light curtain to stop access to the danger zone. They knew this was a risk as they had installed it as a control measure prior to the incident happening. The fact that they had assessed the risk and had put in the control of the light curtain previously shows how avoidable and preventable this accident was. What they did instead was inadequate and resulted in this very serious injuries.Their willful blindness to the risk that was in place meant that the controls did not reach industrial standard.”
Searcy, AR – A worker who was seriously injured in a preventable lockout accident at Bryce Corporation Plant 8 last November has died from complications related to his injuries.
In November, 2016, Vernon Holland climbed inside a machine to fix a jam at the Bryce Corporation facility Searcy (AR). The machine was turned off at the time, but started back up while he was inside. Holland initially survived his injuries and spent months in the hospital. In April of this year, he was able to return home, but was re-hospitalized shortly afterward. Tragically, Holland died this month from numerous complications related to recovering from the workplace accident. His passing leaves four children fatherless.
Lockout Tagout programs and practices help to prevent the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities. These written procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, and are an OSHA requirement.
Bryce Corporation Plant 8 in Searcy is less than an hour northeast of Little Rock, Arkansas. Bryce Corporation specializes in film conversion and manufactures flexible packaging.
Smyrna, TN – November marked the fourth fatal industrial accident at the Nissan Vehicle Assembly Plant in Smyrna (TN). Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) responded to the scene to investigate the incident. Their investigation report is expected to be released within six weeks.
Dennis Pinkston died as a result of head trauma after being crushed in a machine at the Smyrna plant. If you have had a similar experience involving a loved one, then you should consider getting some outsider help concerning a wrongful death. There are plenty of places you could look at online, one example is https://www.nehoralaw.com/practice-areas/wrongful-death/ but there are many others that you could look at.
This is the fourth fatal incident at the Smyrna (TN) Nissan Vehicle Assembly Plant in the past five years. In 2013, Nissan maintenance technician Michael Hooper, 43, was involved in a fatal accident in the body assembly area. Later in 2013, a supplier was killed when a large electrical panel fell while it was being moved. In 2012, a contract driver, Martin O’Connell, was killed when he became trapped between his truck and a set of parked trailers.
Danville, VA – The Virginia Department of Labor has cited Goodyear’s Danville (VA) facility with nearly $850,000 in fines for workplace safety violations and about $165,000 for health violations. The state issued a grand total of 122 citations including 89 “serious,” four “willful-serious” workplace safety violations, and 26 “serious” and three “other-than-serious” health violations.
In addition, Goodyear was also cited and penalized for the death of Charles “Greg” Cooper at the Danville Goodyear plant on April 12, and for separate non-fatal accidents in which an employee was burned by steam, a machine operator was injured when their arm got caught in a feed conveyor, and another was hurt when their arm got caught in a takeaway belt cement bridge roller.
The largest employer in the Danville area, the Goodyear Tire plant has been the scene of 4 employee deaths within the past year. Billy Scheier died on August 12 from blunt injuries to the chest and medical asphyxia. Greg Cooper died on April 12. Kevin Edmonds died during his work shift on March 31. And in August 2015, Jeanie Lynne Strader also died in an accident at the plant.
The Danville plant was cited for failing to maintain workroom floors in a clean and dry condition and Goodyear was also penalized for not having procedures for controlling “potentially hazardous energy.” These equipment-specific Lockout/Tagout procedures need to be followed before employees troubleshoot problems or perform maintenance on equipment.
VOSH found nearly two dozen instances and locations of inadequate machine guarding within the Danville facility. Their statement says that Goodyear did not provide methods for machine guarding to protect operators and other employees from hazards “such as those created by point of operation, ingoing nip joints, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks.”
Virginia Department of Labor also found untrained machine operators at the Danville Goodyear plant were exposed to 120-to-480-volt circuit conductors when opening cabinet doors to adjust timers and resetting overcurrent devices for machines. Arc Flash accidents generally happen lighting quick and without warning. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to any nearby people. Training is paramount to avoiding any electrical accident. The Martin Technical Arc Flash Risk Assessment, Labeling and Safety Program is one of the most comprehensive in the industry. Read more about our Arc Flash safety and training programs.