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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Contractor fined $662K after Electrical Shock Injury

Fort St. John, British Colombia – Peace River Hydro Partners has been fined $662,102.48 by WorkSafeBC. The fine was imposed on August 21, 2019, after a worker sustained an electrical shock injury. A worker was able to access the main circuit breaker in a high-voltage electrical cabinet for tunneling equipment.

According to WorkSafeBC, the main electrical breaker extensions on the exterior cabinet door were not functioning, the de-energization switches had been circumvented and the main breaker switch-box isolation covers were in disrepair.Electrical worker operates on wires

WorkSafeBC staff also determined that it was a standard work practice at this site to access the main circuit breaker without following lockout procedures.

A stop-use order was issued for the tunneling equipment because Peace River Hydro Partners failed to ensure its equipment was capable of safely performing its functions, and was unable to provide its workers with the information, instruction, training, and supervision necessary to ensure their health and safety.

WorkSafeBC says these were both repeated violations.

This is the largest fine WorkSafeBC can issue under B.C. legislation.  The report from WorkSafeBC did not disclose the condition of the worker or the exact date of the incident.

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Heavy Fines for Machine Safety Hazards at WI Facility

machine safety hazardsEau Claire, WI – A cookie dough manufacturing facility in Eau Claire, Wisconsin faces $782,526 in penalties for “continually exposing employees to machine safety hazards.” Choice Products USA LLC was cited for similar machine safety violations following an OSHA inspection in 2016, and as a consequence has now been placed in OSHA’s severe violator enforcement program.

Choice Products was cited for five egregious willful violations for their failures to implement an effective lockout/tagout (LOTO) program. OSHA also found that employee training on lockout/tagout was inadequate to prevent worker’s from unintentional contact with machinery during service and maintenance activities. Federal workplace safety inspectors also determined that Choice Products failed to install proper machine guarding.

Choice Products had been cited in a 2016 inspection for exposing employees to similar lockout/tagout and machine safety hazards.OSHA’s severe violator enforcement program  targets employers who have demonstrated what they term an “indifference” workplace safety obligations by committing “willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.”

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Failure to Lockout Machine Breaks Worker’s Arm and Prompts $100+ in Fines

Napoleon, OH – Failure to lockout a machine at Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corp. was found to have been the cause of a worker’s broken arm. Federal workplace safety agents inspected the aluminum can manufacturing facility following a lockout/tagout accident, and Silgan Containers now faces proposed penalties of $106,080 for one repeat and three serious safety violations of lockout/tagout standards.

The fines were the result of an OSHA investigation triggered by an employee who suffered a broken arm while servicing a machine at Silgan Containers’ Ohio facility. An estimated 3 million workers service equipment at their jobs. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout (LOTO) is not properly implemented. Compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents approximately 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries annually in this country alone, and saves an average of 24 workdays that would be needefailure lockout machined for recuperation in the case of a lockout accident.

The single repeat and three serious safety violations were issued for failure to train employees on energy control procedures, perform periodic inspections of energy control procedures, and failure to provide adequate machine guarding at a pinch point. Lockout/Tagout (also known as LOTO) refers to a system of controlling hazardous energy in an effort to prevent the unexpected start up or movement of equipment, which especially necessary to reduce worker exposure to injury during service and maintenance activities.

According to OSHA’s Area Director, “Employers are required to train their employees on proper lockout/tag out procedures to prevent the release of stored energy or unexpected startup of equipment.”

It has been reported that OSHA cited Silgan Containers for similar violations at its Wisconsin plant in 2015.

Contact a Lockout/Tagout Specialist at Martin Technical today to discuss how we can provide practical safety and efficiency services to make your plant or facility a better, safer, and more efficient place to work.

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.5M in Fines for Lockout, Training, and Machine Safety Violations

lockout trainingMacon, GA –  22 citations were announced last week for Lockout, Training, and Machine Safety violations found at a Georgia tire plant. The violations were documented as part of an OSHA follow-up inspection at Kumho Tire Georgia.

Three companies face a collective $523,895 in fines for safety violations allegedly found at the Kumho Tire Georgia plant in Macon: Kumho Tire Georgia Inc., Sae Joong Mold Inc., and J-Brothers Inc. The large fine represents 12 serious, nine repeat, and one other-than-serious workplace safety violations.

The 22 citations announced May 29 are the result of violations documented in a Nov 2018 follow-up inspection conducted at the Kumho Tire facility. OSHA has stated that the follow-up inspection was initiated after the agency failed to receive documents from Kumho indicating that it had abated violations found during a 2017 inspection. As a result of this history of violations, OSHA also announced that Kumho Tire Georgia Inc. has been placed in the Severe Violation Enforcement Program (SVEP).

A portion of the violations documented Kumho were for Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) failures. OSHA cited failures to follow hazardous energy-control procedures (also known as Lockout Procedures or LPs) when Kumho employees performed machine service and maintenance duties. Additionally, OSHA found a failure to train employees on the use and benefits of these energy-control or lockout/tagout procedures.

Additionally, there were failures to provide machine guards on some equipment in use at the Kumho plant. OSHA’s Atlanta-East area director stated the dangers associated with these violations: “This employer exposed workers to multiple safety and health deficiencies that put them at risk for serious or fatal injuries.”

Beyond the Kumho violations, OSHA also issued fines of $9,093 to Sae Joong Mold Inc. for using damaged slings and for electrical hazards at the Macon plant. J-Brothers Inc. was the third company named in these citations. J-Brothers portion of the fine was $7,503 for failure to mount portable fire extinguishers and failure to perform annual maintenance on fire extinguishers.

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Process Safety Management Failures Lead to Huge Fines

San Angelo, TX – OSHA has found that workers at the Texas Packing Company were exposed to the release of hazardous chemicals like ammonia due to failures to implement a Process Safety Management program, and issued $615,640 in fines as a result.

Federal safety inspectors found the Texas Packing Company in San Angelo (TX) to be an unsafe workplace in an investigation which documented worker exposure to the release of hazardous chemicals. The danger of exposure to chemicals was found to be due to failures to implement a Process Safety Management program.

7 S Packing LLC has been operating the meat packing business process safety managementTexas Packing Company in San Angelo (TX). They now faces up to $615,640 in federal penalties for failures in Process Safety Management as well as failures to provide fall protection, machine and equipment guards, hazardous energy controls (also known as Lockout/Tagout), and failures to implement a respiratory protection program.

OSHA determined the meat-packing facility failed to implement a required safety program known as a Process Safety Management Program. Specifically, the violation documented this month was for Texas Packing’s operation of an ammonia refrigeration unit containing over 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia.

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Willful Lockout Violations Found at LA Noodle Factory

willful lockout violationsLos Angeles, CA – An amputation at an LA noodle factory prompted a Cal/OSHA investigation resulting in $305,685 in fines for two employers. The amputation occurred in 2018 when a temporary worker was cleaning machinery and lost two fingers at JSL Foods Inc.

The injured man was a temporary worker placed at the JSL food manufacturing facility by Priority Workforce. The worker was cleaning a dough rolling machine when his left hand was pulled partway into the moving rollers, amputating two fingers on Oct. 2, 2018.

Cal/OSHA found JSL liable for one willful repeat serious violation and one willful repeat serious accident-related violation for failing to follow lockout/tagout procedures. JSL Foods has been fined $276,435 in proposed penalties for a total of seven violations. According to Cal/OSHA, JSL Foods was cited twice in 2015 for the same violations.

Three additional serious violations were cited against Priority Workforce, the employer who assigned the temporary worker to JSL Foods. Cal/OSHA found Priority Workforce failed to establish, implement, and maintain an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program, failed to ensure employees were effectively trained, and failed to ensure machinery was adequately guarded.

According to Cal/OSHA, their investigation found that “the machine had not been adequately guarded to prevent fingers from entering pinch points, [nor had it been] de-energized and locked out to prevent movement while the worker was cleaning it…Neither employer had trained the worker to follow lockout/tagout procedures before cleaning the equipment.”

Lockout/tagout procedures (also known as LOTO) provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment. Workers who are trained in lockout can use these procedures and practices to prevent injuries that might otherwise occur when machinery or equipment starts up unexpectedly during cleaning or maintenance work. Martin Technical’s certified lockout technicians and safety experts work together to provide your safety team with the most effective and accurate lockout program in the industry.

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Amputation Due to Lockout Failures Nets $160K in OSHA Fines

Picayune, MS – OSHA has fined Heritage Plastics $159,118 after finding willful violations of federal workplace safety standards during an investigation triggered by an amputation accident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration documented failures in lockout/tagout, failures to train employees on LOTO, and failures to install machine guards at the MS PVC conduit, fittings and pipe manufacturer.

A Heritage employee lost four fingers in November of last year when a mixing machine unexpectedly started while the worker was removing material from itamputation due to lockout. OSHA found that the accident was preventable and concluded that it was due to a failure to use a lockout device or properly train its workers on lockout/tagout (LOTO). Heritage was also cited for failing to install adequate machine guarding.

Lockout/tagout is a workplace safety system designed to prevent the startup of machinery or equipment that may result in worker injury. Lockout (or LOTO) procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment. To be compliant with federal energy control standards, employers must establish a lockout program and follow procedures for affixing appropriate lockout or tagout devices to energy isolating devices. Taking steps to prevent the unexpected energization, start up, or release of stored energy prevents employee injury. 
Training employees on the exact protocol to control hazardous energy is a fundamental part of a successful lockout program. Employee must be trained to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program is understood, and so that they possess the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of energy control/lockout devices.
A statement made by OSHA‘s Jackson (MS) Area Office Director emphasized how this accident could have been prevented: “Proper safety procedures, including the effective lockout of all sources of energy, could have prevented this employee’s serious injury…Employers must take proactive steps to develop and implement energy control procedures to minimize risk to their employees.”

Contact a member of our industrial safety team today to discuss how Martin Technical can improve accident prevention measures at your facility.

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Partial Amputation at Window Maker Prompts OSHA Fines

partial amputationHialeah, FL – OSHA has cited CGI Windows and Doors for federal workplace safety violations that include willful failures in machine guarding which will cost PGT Industries fines proposed to total $398,545. OSHA investigated the Florida window and door manufacturer following reports that an employee had suffered a partial finger amputation while using an unguarded punch press at their facility outside of Miami. CGI Windows and Doors is owned by PGT Industries.

OSHA cited PGT for two serious violations and two other-than-serious violations, however the bulk of the fine was for the willful violation of machine safety standards. In their announcement, OSHA stated that PGT Industries “knowingly disregarded machine guarding requirement intended to protect employees from caught-in and amputation hazards.” The Willful violation constitutes $258,672 of the proposed fine. In this case, OSHA applied the maximum fine allowed by law for the violations that can cause life-altering injury.

Federal workplace safety inspectors found guards absent on eight punch presses, a drill press, and a table saw at the CGI Windows and Doors facility. Three other punch presses were documented as having guards that didn’t cover enough area to protect workers.

The serious and other-than-serious citations were for hazards including failing to implement a program to inspect mechanical power presses and correct unsafe conditions; exposing employees to electrical hazards; failing to make sure employees wore hearing protection; and failing to develop specific procedures to verify the control of hazardous energy an industrial safety practice known as Lockout Tagout.

In response to OSHA’s announcement and the associated penalties, PGT asserted that they “share OSHA’s goal of ensuring the safety of each and every one of our team members.”

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