FL Pet Food Manufacturer Surprised by $95K in OSHA Fines

Miami, FL – Without ever having had a notable accident at their facility, Higgins Premium Pet Foods was surprised to receive $95,472 in OSHA fines following safety inspections in the fall of 2018.osha fines

Federal workplace safety inspectors documented 17 violations at the pet food manufacturer: crushed-by hazards from damaged or overloaded storage racks; lack of machine guarding on gears, sprockets, and chains; failure to develop and implement a hazardous energy control program (also known as Lockout/Tagout); employees exposed to fall hazards due to an uncovered floor hole; and failure to ensure employees wore protective gloves when handling corrosive cleaners.

In an interview with the Miami Herald, Higgins general manager Andres Perea stated that OSHA “showed up with four inspectors for the first inspection…Then they came back four more times.” The Herald described Perea’s reaction as stunned. He also stated that the North Miami facility had “never had a death, never had an amputation. In the last five years, we’ve had five injuries. The worst was a sprained knee.”

Records indicate that prior to the fall 2018 inspections, OSHA hadn’t inspected the Higgins pet food facility in the past 10 years. In the case of a location, industry, or company without a history of OSHA transgressions, inspections are generally triggered by an incident or complaint. In this instance, the two inspections of the Higgins facility were initiated by worker complaints and referral of another agency.

In their statement on the charges against Higgins, OSHA’s Area Director said that the violations found at the pet food manufacturing facility “put employees at risk for serious or fatal injuries. OSHA also stressed in that same statement that “employers must assess their workplace for potential safety and health hazards, and are encouraged to contact the local OSHA office for assistance with establishing and improving safety and health programs.”

The Miami Herald predicts that as this is Higgins first OSHA offence, it is possible that OSHA and Higgins will be able to settle the fines for less than the initially imposed $95,472. Higgins Premium Pet Foods makes natural pet foods for birds and small animals, and is operated by a company called The Higgins Group.

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Fatal Injury During Machine Cleaning

Gardena, CA – A worker was killed this week in Gardena (CA) when the machine he was cleaning turned back on. The fatal injury occurred at the German Machined Products Inc manufacturing facility. Cal/OSHA is investigating.

fatal injuryOn Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles County Fire Department received a call about a person trapped inside a metal-cutting machine. By the time emergency workers arrived, the man was dead.

The worker’s name has not yet been released, but according to the LA County Coroner’s Office the victim was a Latino man in his 60s.

German Machined Products’ Gardena manufacturing facility specializes in complex machining and assembly for the aerospace industry. There is a history of Cal/OSHA citations and violations at the plant. In 2014, Cal/OSHA issued four general citations and one serious citation against German Machined Products for failing to properly guard hazardous machinery.

In light of this fatal workplace injury, Cal/OSHA will be interviewing co-workers, checking the Gardena facility’s equipment, and thoroughly reviewing safety and training procedures at German Machined Products.

Accidents during machine maintenance and cleaning activities are especially tragic since they are highly preventable. The federal Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) standard is designed to protect the nearly 3 million workers who service equipment and consequently face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard is estimated to prevent roughly 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries annually.

Please contact Martin Technical to learn more about Lockout/Tagout safety procedures.

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Employee Loses Arm While Cleaning Machinery

Elysburg, PA – OSHA has proposed $112,523 in penalties after finding that lockout/tagout failures lead to an employee’s arm being amputated while cleaning machinery.

OSHA has cited Toy Factory TX LLC for workplace safety violations after investigating the circumstances that lead to an employee’s arm being amputated while cleaning machinery earlier this year. OSHA has proposed $112,523 in penalties for the company’s failure to develop acceptable procedures to prevent the release of hazardous energy; failure to apply lockout devices; and failure to train employees on lockout/tagout procedures.

OSHA’s local area office director stated that Toy Factory’s “failure to use appropriate machine locking devices resulted in a serious injury that could have been prevented.” Machine locking devices are an important part of an industrial Lockout/Tagout program. Lockout devices are mechanical means of locking a machine in a position that prevents energization of a machine, equipment, or a process. Energy-isolating devices cleaning machineryare applied to machinery during maintenance or while employees are otherwise servicing equipment to prevent unexpected startup and thereby avoid employee injury.

Nearly 3 million workers service equipment and these employees 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.

Federal workplace safety inspectors determined that Toy Factory TX LLC (doing business as The Toy Factory LLC) failed to develop acceptable written lockout/tagout procedures, failed to apply lockout devices, and failed to train employees on lockout/tagout. OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures. Appropriate training ensures that the purpose and function of the energy control program are understood by employees and that employees gain the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls.

The Elysburg (PA) facility is one of several owned by Texas-based Toy Factory TX which manufactures stuffed toys intended for use as rewards and prizes at amusement parks, entertainment game centers, and crane machines.

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AL Steel Company Cited for Unsafe Working Conditions

Montgomery, AL –Sabel Steel Service Inc faces $320,261 in federal fines for unsafe working conditions, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Sabel Steel, which was honored just two years ago for its safety record by the Alabama Department of Labor, disagrees with the findings and will be meeting with OSHA to discuss.

OSHA announced the fines in November, following inspections of each of Sable Steel’s plants in May of 2018 as part of a national emphasis on amputation prevention in the workplace. In the course of these investigations, OSHA documented employee exposure to amputation risks, and failures to safely controlling the release of hazardous energy during machine maintenance or servicing.

In terms of failures to meet federal Lockout Tagout standards, OSHA inspectors found that the written lockout procedures at Sable were vague, generic, and did not state clearly how to shut down the machine, apply the lock, and restore service. Further, OSHA cited failures to conduct and document periodic inspection of the lockout/tagout (or energy control) procedures. OSHA also fined Sable Steel for failures in regard to lockout training. Employees were found to have been authorized to lockout equipment without first having been trained on how to properly perform lockout/tagout on the machines.

Additionally, OSHA’s statement claims that Sable Steel failed to provide fall protection; failed to conduct medical evaluations to determine an employee’s ability to use a respirator; and improperly stored oxygen, propane, and acetylene cylinders.

Sable Steel is notable as a 162-year-old family-owned company, currently lead by the fifth generation. They supply steel scrap and rebar, and are reported to have quadrupled in size since 1990.

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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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Lockout Accident Costs Employee 1 Finger and Ice Cream Co $103,000

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.

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Willful Violation Leads to Lockout/Tagout Accident

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.

willful violation

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.

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NJ Lumber Co Fined $106,432 for Lockout Failures

Medford, NJ – DuBell Lumber has been issued $106,432 in OSHA penalties following a federal workplace safety investigation that revealed multiple failures to protect the health and safety of workers at its New Jersey facility.

DuBell Lumber was investigated in response to a complaint of workplace safety and health hazards. Federal safety inspectors identified failures to properly control combustible dust resulting from wood processing; failures to train employees on how to control the release of hazardous energy; failures in DuBell’s lockout/tagout procedures and program; and failing to install machine guards to protect employees from amputations.

Lockout, or lockout/tagout, procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment. These written procedures help to prevent the unexpected startup of machinery or equipment that may result in a worker injury.

lockout

Millions of American workers service equipment each day – these employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. It is estimated that compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents 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.

OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures. Training is done to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program are 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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Willful Violations Lead to Preventable Amputation

Pennsauken, NJ – Failure to implement OSHA recommendations has led to an amputation and over $200,000 in fines for willful violations documented at an NJ snack food manufacturing facility.

A worker at J&J Snack Foods Corporation suffered a partial finger amputation in a lockout accident that could have been prevented by rectifying prior violations identified by OSHA. Following an investigation, J&J faces $206,019 in fines for federal workplace safety violations, including willful violations.

OSHA’s investigation found that failures to correct previously issued workplace safety violations led to the amputation accident at J&J’s Pennsauken manufacturing facility. The snack-food maker failed to correct prior violations of safety procedures known as lockout/tagout procedures which are written instructions for de-energizing each piece of equipment.

OSHA inspectors determined that the worker was cleaning a machine when it activated. This is typical of accidents whose cause can be traced back to lockout/tagout failures or energy control hazards.

Million of American workers service equipment as a part of their job, and these people face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. It is estimated that compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents 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. OSHA’s area director stated that “the employer’s failure to correct previously identified violations and follow basic safety standards resulted in this preventable incident.”

J&J was cited for willfully failing to conduct periodic inspections of energy control procedures used to de-energize equipment when cleaning; failing to implement lockout procedures to prevent unintentional machine start-up; and failing to train employees on lockout/tagout procedures and energy hazards.

OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures. Training is done to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program are 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.

J&J Snack Foods Corp manufactures popular snack foods like soft pretzels, churros, water ice, and frozen lemonade for popular brands sold throughout the United States.

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Young Father Loses Both Legs in Preventable Lockout Accident

Spooner, WI – Spooner Machine has been cited for willful and serious safety violations after a preventable lockout accident led to an explosion that resulted in the amputation of a young father’s legs. OSHA has placed Spooner Machine Inc. on its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, and has proposed penalties of $221,168.

According to local police, Spooner Machine employee Bradley Grossen, 29, suffered life-threatening injuries as a result of the explosion at the Wisconsin facility. Grossen was reportedly repairing a water table used in metal fabrication when an explosion threw him from the top of the water table to the floor.

Federal workplace safety investigators determined that the explosion was caused by an accumulation of hydrogen gas. OSHA cited Spooner Machine for failing to develop and implement procedures to control the release of hydrogen gas during service and maintenance; to ensure proper machine guarding; store gas and oxygen cylinders properly; to provide required training; and protect employees from electrical hazards.

preventable lockout accident

OSHA’s Area Office Director stated that “this injury could have been prevented if the employer had properly protected their workers from the release of hazardous energy.”

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. The terms are used interchangably, although “Lockout” is more commonly used in the United States.

Written Lockout/tagout 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 injuring.

Violations of federal workplace safety standards regarding lockout-tagout (or hazardous energy controls) are on OSHA’s Top 10 “Most Often Cited Violations” and Top 10 “Most Serious Violations” lists. Many companies have general written policies, but lack the equipment specific procedures which provide workers with the specific steps to properly isolate energy sources. Lockout/Tagout fines are based on each piece of equipment, and can add up to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Written procedures for the control of hazardous energy are not effective without training. OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program are understood by the workforce. A robust lockout program pairs equipment-specific lockout procedures with employees who have the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls.

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