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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Nitrogen Leak Kills Six, Injures 11 in Poultry Plant Accident

Gainesville, FL – On January 28th a deadly nitrogen leak took the livesAn example photo of industrial liquid nitrogen cannisters of six workers at Foundation Food Group poultry plant located in Gainesville, Florida. The leak occurred during unplanned maintenance on a processing and freezing line. The line was installed about a month prior, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board’s report on January 30th.

In addition to the six dead in the nitrogen leak, there were 11 injuries, one more individual was sent to the hospital, and 130 other workers were forced to evacuate. Katherine A. Lemos, CEO & chairwoman of the CSB stated the investigation “…may take up to several years.” New information is still coming forward, and will continue to do so as Lemos suggests.

What We Know Currently

In the CSB’s report from January 30th, it was detailed that there was a release of liquid nitrogen. This rapidly converted to a gas. Because the gas form of liquid nitrogen is heavier than air, it forced the oxygen out the room.

How the liquid nitrogen was released was not detailed. The CSB is currently working to isolate the exact location of release inside the plant. Additional damage to the plant was avoided when a manger turned off an external isolation valve after the leak began.

Other details noted in the report included: Tools were found on the ground near the equipment. The plant receives 2-3 18-wheel truckloads per day of liquid nitrogen. Manufacturers of interior equipment are being looked into, and the supplier of liquid nitrogen was noted in the report.

Going Forward

The CSB lacks the authority to issue fines or criminal charges. However, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating the leak. The CSB has noted its investigations will include examinations and evaluations of multiple factors. The will include training as well as operations and procedures. Martin Technical encourages all industries and professionals to keep all employees up to date on training, as well as safety procedures and operations such as Lockout Tagout. Keep your team informed on all regulations and industry standards to prevent accidents such as these.

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Lockout Accident Kills Contractor at IN Ethanol Plant

Bluffton, IN – Valero Renewable Fuels was the site of a workplace death this month caused by a lockout accident. A 42-year-old contractor was found dead at the plant, his body trapped in a piece of machinery.

Ryan West became trapped in machinery while working as a contractor at the Valero Renewable Fuels ethanol plant in Bluffton, IN. Local police have stated that Valero employees called 911 saying they couldn’t find West and feared he had been in an accident. When emergency responders arrived, they found his body caught in a piece of equipment. West was employed by Diversified Industrial Services, a grain equipment supplier, and was performing maintenance work on a large auger.

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 machinerylockout accident or equipment that may result in worker injury. Lockout/Tagout is also known as LOTO or Control of Hazardous Energy. These terms refers to the same safety standard and procedures and practices designed to prevent the unexpected start up or movement of equipment, especially crucial during maintenance or service work.

A study conducted by the United Auto Workers revealed that 20% of fatalities among their membership were attributed to inadequate hazardous energy control or lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures. An estimated 3 million workers service equipment as a part of their work duties. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard is said to prevent approximately 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year at facilities across the US.

Indiana’s arm of OSHA is investigating this latest incident, while local news media are reporting a history of safety violations at the ethanol plant. Earlier this year, Valero’s Bluffton plant was fined for “serious safety violations” involving machinery safety and lockout/tagout.

Tragedies such as this lockout accident in Indiana are preventable. Please contact a Lockout Specialist at Martin Technical today to discuss how we can help to make your plant or facility better, safer, and more efficient with the support of our suite of Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessment, Training, Machine Safety, and Safety Consulting services.

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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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Machine Guarding Failures Lead to $687,650 in Penalties

Strattanville, PA – A 2018 amputation due to machine guarding failures at a PA modular home manufacturing facility lead to an OSHA investigation which revealed numerous workplace safety violation and resulted in a staggering $687,650 in penalties.

Last month, OSHA issued willful and serious citations to Champion Modular Inc. for failures in the areas of machine guarding, fall protection, electrical safety, hazard communication, lockout/tagout (LOTO), combustible dust, and training.

On the topic of machine guarding failures, OSHA’s local Area Office Director stated that “moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries if they are not safeguarded…Employers’ use of machine guards and devices is not optional. Employers are legally responsible for ensuring that machine operators are protected.”

In the investigation triggered by the November 2018 amputation, OSHA documented Champion Modular employees’ exposure to numerous workplace safety hazards. Some of the machine guarding failures included damaged plastic guards on a table saw which exposed employees to the saw blade, work rests on grinding machinery not adjusted properly, a grinder was being used without the proper guard, and a hand-fed circular ripsaw found without a spreader and missing a kickback device.

Hazards caused by combustible dust were also evident at the Champion Modular machine guarding failuresfacility. Combustible dust was found to have accumulated in the higher areas of the facility, which posed an increased risk of fire. Additionally, a dust collector that was not equipped with devices and systems to prevent fire was noted as having the potential to expose employees to fire, burn, and deflagration hazards.

Violations of federal Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) machine safety standards was another a part of the citations and penalties OSHA issued. OSHA inspectors found equipment and machinery at the manufacturing facility that was missing lockout/tagout procedures altogether. Additionally, Champion Modular allegedly failed to perform periodic inspections of machine servicing and equipment maintenance procedures.

OSHA investigators also noted electrical safety violations and hazards at the PA manufacturing facility. Electrical equipment was found installed and/or in use outside of the intended purpose, not in compliance with instructions. Inspectors noted duct tape and electrical tape being used to cover up and hold together a damaged control pendant.

Violations and fines of this magnitude are avoidable through conscientious workplace safety programs – Martin Technical is a leading provider of practical safety and efficiency services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer and more efficient. Our experts simplify complex workplace safety practices by applying real-world solutions for Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Training, Machine Safety & Safety Consulting Services.

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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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LOTO Failures Responsible for TN Employee’s Death

loto failures employee deathSurgoinsville, TN – Five serious workplace safety violations have been documented at MIS Industries in an investigation following a February 12 lockout/tagout accident that killed 34-year-old Arthur James Hendrickson. Hendrickson was crushed while retrieving a part that had jammed a hangar blaster machine at the Tennessee metal finishing facility.

Local officials say that Hendrickson climbed into the hangar blaster to remove a part that had gotten lodged in the equipment. Once he removed the piece, the door closed and  Hendrickson was trapped. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

In the course of the investigation, TOSHA (Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration) discovered that neither of the MIS team leaders could recall receiving training on Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) and were ignorant of any of the energy control procedures.

The TOSHA investigator concluded that team leaders on duty initiated maintenance activities on the Hangar Blaster without ensuring that the machine was de-energized to prevent unexpected startup. Lockout/Tagout is sometimes referred to as Hazardous Energy Control (or the Control of Hazardous Energy) – these terms refer to the same standard of preventing unexpected start up or movement of equipment.

It is estimated that 3 million workers service equipment and these employees face the greatest risk of injury if Lockout/Tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the 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. In a study conducted by the United Auto Workers (UAW), 20% of the fatalities that occurred among their members were attributed to inadequate lockout/tagout and hazardous energy control procedures.

TOSHA concluded that MIS did not make use of its energy control program, did not effectively train employees on their role in Lockout/Tagout, and also neglected to conduct periodic evaluations of their LOTO program.

The five serious violations were: employees were exposed to a caught-in hazard as they failed to apply energy control measures to the Hangar Blaster machine; written lockout procedures failed to clearly and specifically outline the steps for safely shutting down, isolating and securing machinery and equipment to control hazardous energy; MIS failed to conduct annual inspection of their lockout procedures; employees were not instructed in the purpose and use of lockout procedures; and machine guarding were found to be insufficient to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards.

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