Grain Facility Exposed Workers to Engulfment Hazards

MONTICELLO, IL – On February 19th, 2021, two workers at Topflight Grain Cooperative Inc. were clearing a bin of debris when the soybeans inside collapsed, engulfing one employee up to their waste. The subsequent investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found the grain facility exposed workers to engulfment hazards. The total proposed penalties amounted to $303,510. A grain facility exposed workers to engulfment hazards within a grain silo.

The agency cited Topflight for four grain-handling violations. This included a willful citation for failing to lockout or de-energize hazardous equipment before allowing workers to enter the bin. OSHA issued another willful violation for failing to post an attendant outside the bin for emergency response. The agency all issued citations for directing employees to work on top of railcars without fall protection and failing to test oxygen levels within before directing employees to work inside the grain bin.

In OSHA’s press release, OSHA Area director Barry Salerno made a statement regarding the grain facility which exposed workers to engulfment hazards. Salerno stated, “Six in ten grain engulfments result in the death of a worker but, like the incident at Topflight Grain Cooperative, they are entirely avoidable. OSHA works diligently with the grain and feed industry to enhance education and safety, but employers must follow industry-recognized standards to protect their workers.”

According to their website, Topflight Grain Cooperative operates 19 grain-producing facilities. These operate across Illinois and process 40 million bushels of grain annually.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its 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.

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Facility Given 22 Serious Citations by OSHA

COLUMBUS, GA – A Facility has been given 22 serious citations by OSHA. HPPE LLC was given a safety and health inspection at its Columbus chemical manufacturing facility. According to ValdostaToday, the inspection was conducted under OSHA’s Regional Emphasis Program for Powered Industrial Trucks. The inspection has resulted in a proposed $136,816 in penalties.A Facility has been given 22 serious citations by OSHA, confined space among them.

Among the 22 serious citations were citations for confined space, fall protection, and lockout tagout. The investigation showed the employer failed to do the following:

  • Provide hazard communication program training to employees working with chemicals.
  • Establish or implement a written confined space program for workers who enter tanks and/or vats.
  • Provide employees working with chemicals with emergency means for flushing eyes and the body.
  • Display labels on containers that store chemicals.
  • Train workers operating powered industrial trucks and repair damaged storage racks with bent and damaged supports.
  • Keep doorways unlocked, marked and illuminated properly as exits, and keep doorways free of obstruction.
  • Provide guarding and other fall protection systems or training for employees working from elevated platforms and near open pits to prevent them from falling.
  • Train workers on procedures for isolating energy sources on machines while performing repair work (lockout/tagout).

Martin Technical offers training in confined space, fall protection, and lockout tagout to prevent fines such as these.

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Spice Importer Cited by OSHA

JACKSON, AL – A Spice importer has been cited by OSHA. iSpice is a global spice importer located in Jackson, Alabama. OSHA reported on April 23rd that they are citing the company $121,511 in penalties.

The workers were found to be exposed to amputations, struck-by, crushed-by and The Spice Importer Cited by OSHA may have avoided citations by using lockout devices similar to this one. electrical hazards. OSHA found iSpice allowed workers to clean the plant’s mixing machines without employing lockout tagout. They employer also failed to implement energy control procedures, train workers on lockout/tagout, and use machine guarding in regards to a rotating portion of the mixer.

Other hazards included allowing workers to use industrial trucks with a damage seatbelt; failing to ensure drivers were competent to operate the equipment; exposing them to electrical hazards by allowing boxes and outlets that were uncovered or lacked faceplates to be used; and a fan with a splice in the cord to be used.

In their press release, OSHA quoted Area Director Jose Gonzalez, “This employer put their employees at serious risk needlessly by failing to provide training and implement well-known protections. These protections are not optional, they are every workers right.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its 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.

Martin Technical provides Lockout Tagout services and training to help companies avoid citations such as these and the accidents they can cause.

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Nevada OSHA Investigates Death of Quarry Worker

Henderson, NV – The Nevada Occupational Safety and Hazard Association (Nevada OSHA) is investigating the death of Harry Kenneth Peterson III, as reported by The Las Vegas Review Journal. Last week, the fire department was called to a rock quarry described as the Viento Puntero Pit.

A generalized image of a rock crusher as it crushes large chunks of rock into smaller pieces

Fire Department Chief, Shawn White, reported what he was told by emergency crews. Crews were informed that Peterson had been helping others move a rock crushing machine to another area of the work site.

When part of the machine was apparently jammed, Peterson tried to fix it and was caught in the machine. Rescue workers said it was not clear how he became stuck. White reported Peterson had head and chest injuries. When rescue crews arrived, Peterson had already been removed from the machine.

When emergency crews arrived, Peterson was breathing and transported to to Sunrise Trauma. On Friday, Peterson succumbed to his injuries at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center.

The death has been ruled an accident. The Fire Department has contacted Nevada OSHA to investigate the work site death. A related police report was released Wednesday. It did not contain details about the incident, except that it did not appear to be a result of a criminal act.

Nevada OSHA’s spokeswoman, Teri Williams, described Peterson’s employer as Las Vegas Paving Corp. The company lists their services on its website, including: asphalt placing, aggregate crushing & material supply, Design-Build. James Barker acts as Las Vegas Paving Corp’s general counsel. He did not comment out of respect for the family and because of the ongoing investigation.

Martin Technical encourages employers to conduct thorough training in all necessary regulations to prevent accidents such as these. Lockout Procedure Development and Lockout Tagout Training are a critical part of any industrial safety program.

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Two Fatalities in Last Month for Tyson Factories

Eufaula, AL- Within the last month, there have been two fatalities in Tyson factories within the United States. A worker died on March 2nd at a Keystone Foods chicken processing plant in Eufaula, AL while cleaning a piece of equipment.

Barbour County Coroner Chip Chapman said in the report that 39-year-old contractor Carlos Lynn became “caught in a pinch-point of the equipment,” and that the cause of death was a decapitation. The official told the broadcaster that the equipment involved in the incident was a chiller.

Tyson Foods, the owner of the plant, told WRBL that operations halted at the facility the day following the industrial accident.

“We’re investigating an accident at our Eufaula, AL facility yesterday that involved a worker employed by an outside contractor and will provide more information when we can,” Tyson Foods said in a statement printed by the station. “We’re grateful for the swift response and assistance of local emergency personnel.”

Another worker died in a Tyson plant March 23rd in Garden City, Kansas.

Deputies responded to the plant for a man not breathing. EMS transported the man, identified as 30-year-old Kendrick Gregory of Garden City, to the hospital where he died.

The Finney County Sheriff’s Office said their initial investigation showed that Gregory was doing maintenance on the harvest assembly line when he was pulled up by harness against a takeaway belt. Another co-worker was able to cut him free.

These two fatalities in Tyson factories could have potentially been prevented with proper and secure Lockout Tagout procedures. Lockout Tagout isolates and locks 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.

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Worker Killed in Coca-Cola Pallet Accident

Wilsonville, OR-  A worker was killed in what authorities say appears to be a workplace accident at the Swire Coca-Cola facility in Wilsonville.

The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said a loaded pallet fell on the man and he was dead when first responders arrived. The incident happened between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., according to Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been notified and a medical examiner is investigating. Pallets can lead to injuries such as puncture wounds, sprained ankles, broken toes, or worse. If used for a nonapproved purpose, such as a man lift, the result could be tragic. With roughly 2 billion pallets circulating in the United States, it serves material handlers to take some basic precautionary steps and training to avoid injury. Companies should also make sure a strong Lockout Tagout program has been developed and is established.

Swire Coca-Cola released a statement regarding the incident:

“We are deeply saddened that a fatality occurred at our Wilsonville facility on Friday. We can confirm next of kin have been informed. Our production and warehouse remains closed as we work with the relevant authorities to investigate this tragic incident. We have support available to the family and our employees and we send our deepest sympathies to all those affected.”

The worker who was killed has been identified, authorities said, as Brian Willison, a 47-year-old Hillsboro resident.

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Worker’s Arm Crushed in Preventable Energy Control Accident

Norwalk, OH – An Ohio manufacturer faces $213,411 in federal safety fines for failures to prevent known safety hazards. Following an industrial accident at their Norwalk (OH) facility, OSHA found American Excelsior failed to develop or implement energy control procedures and also failed to train employees on energy control procedures.

Energy control procedures, such as Lockout/Tagout, are designed to prevent unintentional machine start-up during maintenance. 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 worker injury.

In the 2018 accident at American Excelsior, OSHA investigators determined that the employee sustained injuries when a machine resumed operation while he was in the process of removing product build-up in the equipment. The worker suffered a crushed arm and required hospitalization.

According to OSHA’s Toledo Area Office Director, American Excelsior “failed to implement safety procedures to prevent known hazards…This injury could have been avoided if machine locking devices had been installed.”

OSHA’s proposed penalties of $213,411 are for violations and failures found at American Excelsior in the areas of energy control, machine guarding, and employee training.

Training employees on the value of energy control procedures is one of the most crucial pieces of a successful and compliant lockout/tagout program. Employers must provide training to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program are understood by employees and that they possess the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of energy controls.

compliance

American Excelsior Company manufactures biodegradable erosion control blankets. They are reported to have received citations for similar violations at their Wisconsin facility in 2017 and have been placed on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA sets and enforces the standards that make workplaces safe for American workers. Martin Technical is a leading provider of practical industrial safety and efficiency services. Our experts can help simplify the complex by applying real-world solutions for Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Training, Machine Safety & Safety Consulting Services. Contact a member of our Safety Services & Training Team to discuss how we can help make your workplace better, safer and more efficient.

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WI Worker Killed in HVAC Tagout Failure

Wauwatosa, WI – An employee at AAM Casting was killed while working on the facility’s rooftop HVAC system. 61-year-old William Walker died after being pulled into a moving fan at the Wisconsin foundry. A co-worker told investigators that the fatal accident could be traced back to Walker’s failure to “tag out” the equipment.

Tagout failureAccording to the medical examiner’s report, Walker was working on the roof in small building that housed an air handling unit. Each air unit consisted of a set of stairs leading into a separate room. Walker was found in a small steel fan shack that controlled ventilation for the building.

Investigators were told by a person on the scene that Walker was supposed to have “tagged out” after finishing his task, but neglected to do so and was fatally “swallowed up” by the fan. Another worker heard commotion and found Walker. That employee shut down the unit and called 911. The local medical examiner is investigating the exact cause of death.

A spokesperson represneting AAM Casting said the victim, William Walker, was an outside contractor working at the facility.

Lockfatal accidentLockout procedout-Tagout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment. Lockout-Tagout (also known as Control of Hazardous Energy) helps to prevent the startup of machinery or equipment that may result in worker injury or fatality.

According to OSHA, nearly 3 million US workers service equipment as a part of their job. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout (LOTO) is not properly implemented. Compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard is estimated to prevent 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries annually. In a study conducted by the United Auto Workers (UAW), 20% of fatalities that occurred among their membership over a span of 22 years were attributable to inadequate lockout/tagout procedures.

Contact a member of our Industrial Safety Team today to discuss the implementation of a robust Lockout/Tagout system at your facility, and the importance of training employees on the use and value of LOTO.

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Amputation Hazards Found at AL Food Processing Plant

Brundidge, AL – Southern Classic Food Group LLC faces $164,997 in fines following citations for amputation and other hazards stemming from separate incidents in which two employees were hospitalized, one for a finger amputation and one for burns.

In the first incident brought to their attention, OSHA stated that an employee suffered burns while using hot water under pressure. Just six days later, another employee suffered an amputation to the tip of the finger.

In the course of their investigation, OSHA found that Southern Classic Food Group exposed employees to amputation hazards; neglected to implement lockout/tagout procedures to control hazardous energy and failed to train employees on these procedures; failed to ensure employees isolated energy sources; and did not provide personal protective equipment or implement a bloodborne pathogen program. 

One OSHA citation was for neglecting to make sure workers isolated energy sources before performing line-breaking work. Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) and Hazardous Energy Control/Control of Hazardous Energy refers to the same standard of preventing unexpected start up or movement of equipment. Machines that start up unexpectedly during maintenance are common causes of industrial injury and amputation. Proper application of lockout-tagout (or hazardous energy controls) violations are on OSHA’s Top 10 “Most Often Cited Violations” and Top 10 “Most Serious Violations” lists.

Approximately 3 million workers in the US service equipment and face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the federal 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.

Risk of amputation is a hazard of conducting maintenance work on industrial machinery, which is why OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies, practices, and procedures. Training ensures that the purpose and function of an energy control program is understood by employees and that the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls are acquired by employees.

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Energized Palletizer Kills Pet Food Worker

Ogden, UT – The American Nutrition plant in northern Utah was the site of an employee death last month when Raul Ortiz was killed in a palletizer accident. Ortiz was crushed after entering an energized palletizer elevator in an attempt to restart packaging line equipment at the pet food manufacturing facility.

energized palletizer kills

Raul Ortiz, a 33-year-old packaging line associate, was fatally injured while operating an automatic bag palletizer. The palletizer machine automatically stacks pet food bags onto a pallet for transport. Ortiz was attempting to restart the palletizer when he was injured on the nightshift and died soon after.

It is believed that Ortiz got into the palletizer elevator while the equipment was still energized, becoming fatally injured as the machinery lifted and crushed him onto the top of the elevator.

An investigation has been launched into the accident and the facility was closed for a portion of time. The American Nutrition facility at Ogden produces extruded, real meat, and baked pet food products.

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