St. Joseph, MO – Following a fatal workplace accident at a Missouri sawmill, OSHA has issued $199,183 in fines for 14 serious and two repeat safety violations at American Walnut Co.
The fatal workplace accident occurred on March 12 of 2018 when American Walnut employee Joshua Hill (38) came into contact with operating equipment. Hill reportedly fell into the chute of a grinder and was killed. OSHA found that Hill was not attached to a tether line when he fell 10 feet into the grinder chute.
Following the sawmill fatality, federal workplace safety investigators identified 14 serious and two repeat safety violations at American Walnut Co. including failure to evaluate job hazards, control hazardous energy, and ensure adequate machine guarding. Additionally, workers were found to have been exposed to hazards associated with falls, ladders, and electrical safety.
Noise hazards observed at American Walnut prompted a separate investigation. OSHA inspectors documented that American Walnut employees were exposed to hazards associated with noise, combustible dust, and chemicals within the St. Joseph (MO) facility.
OSHA’s Kansas City Area Office Director stated that “Employers must continually evaluate job hazards and ensure safety guards are in use to protect workers from known hazards in their facilities.”
The safety of American workers is always our driving motivation at Martin Technical. Anyone with questions about federal safety standards and/or workplace safety hazards should contact a member of our Industrial Safety Team. Martin Technical is a leading provider of practical safety services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer, and more efficient. Our experts apply real-world solutions to create effective safety and health programs across this country and beyond.
Jeffersonville, IN – Two serious violations of machine guarding standards were found in the course of an investigation into an Indiana employee’s death. In Februrary of this year, a worker was killed at the Jeffersonville (IN) Valmont Coatings metal finishing plant. This month, the Indiana office of Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued fines totaling $14,000 for two serious violations of machine guarding standards they found in the course of their investigation of the Indiana production facility.
49-year-old Marion Fletcher was killed at the Jeffersonville (IN) facility on February 20th while reportedly wearing a long-sleeved shirt with “unrestrained” hair at the time of the accident. OSHA found that the machinery Fletcher was operating was not properly guarded to prevent employees from getting caught during its cycle.
Emergency crews arrived at the Valmont facility in response to a call about an industrial accident and an unconscious and unresponsive worker. Fletcher showed no signs of life when he arrived at the hospital, despite the best efforts of emergency responders. Marion Fletcher had reportedly been employed by Valmont for nine months prior to the fatal accident.
For it’s part in the accident, Valmont was issued two violations. Each safety violation was deemed “serious” and carries a penalty of $7,000. Valmont specializes in hot-dip galvanizing and protective coatings for steel.
The importance of machine guarding and employee safety training cannot be overemphasized. Accidents such as this serve as an unfortunate reminder for us all. Please call an industrial safety specialist at Martin Technical today if you have any concerns about the safety of machines in your workplace.
Los 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.
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 it. 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.
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.
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.
Santa Ana, CA – Cal/OSHA announced fines of over a quarter of a million dollars against Aardvark Clay & Supplies this week. The fines are the result of Cal/OSHA’s investigation into a 2018 worker death at the facility which has been attributed to willful failure to properly guard equipment and lack of lockout/tagout training.
Enrique Garcia-Vazques (18) died in a workplace accident at the Santa Ana (CA) clay products business on Sept. 20, 2018 when he became fatally entangled in a clay manufacturing machine called a pug mill. According to reports, Garcia-Vazques was packaging clay blocks after they were cut to size when he became caught in the unguarded mixing blades of the machine as he attempted to identify why the clay stopped traveling through the extruder. According to Cal/OSHA’s report, Enrique Vasquez Garcia sustained amputation, puncture and asphyxia-related injuries in the workplace accident.
Cal/OSHA found that machine safety guards had been purposely removed from the industrial mixer and that the worker had not received training on the machine prior to the accident. Local emergency responders tried to free Garcia-Vazques from the equipment, but sadly, in the end he was declared dead at the scene.
According to said Cal/OSHA’s statement,“Pug mills have rotating blades that can cause amputations and fatally injure employees…Employers must ensure all machinery and its parts are properly guarded, and employees are effectively trained to prevent tragic accidents like this.” Aardvark Clay & Supplies uses the industrial pug mills to manufacture and mix clay.
Investigators with California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health found that all four of the pug mills in Aardvark’s Santa Ana shop had unguarded openings exposing employees to the moving parts. This is in direct violation of safety regulations requiring mixers to have a cover to prevent employees’ hands from entering the machine during operation. This willful failure to guard machinery was cited as one of the willful-serious violations for which Aardvark is being held accountable.
Five violations were levied against Aardvark Clay & Supplies, along with a grand total of $250,160 in proposed penalties. Among the violations, one was categorized as willful-serious accident-related, one was classified as willful-serious, two were deemed serious, and one was general. Accident-related violations are cited when the injury, illness, or fatality is caused by the violation. Serious violations are cited when there is a “realistic possibility” that death or serious harm could result from the hazard created by the violation.
The state of California requires employers to conduct and document inspection of safety hazards as a part of their state-mandated Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Employers whose workplaces feature machines with moving parts, such as mixers, are also required to train their employees in Machine Guarding and Lockout/Tagout in an effort to prevent exactly the type of accident that killed Garcia-Vazques.
Aardvark Clay & Supplies was found to have failed to effectively train workers on the hazards involved with operating their machinery, and then found remiss in identifying and correcting their machine safety hazards. Machine safety guards were provided by equipment manufacturer, but Cal/OSHA found that Aardvark had removed the guards. Investigators documented evidence of fabricated guards having been added to the machines at some point in their operation, but these were found to have been later removed when the employer “believed they interfered with the rate of production.”
For this reason, Cal/OSHA categorized Aardvark’s violation as willful. Willful violations are cited when the employer is aware of the law and still violates it or is aware of a hazardous condition and takes no reasonable steps to address it.
North Platte, NE – OSHA issued fines this week to Western Engineering Company Inc for violations found following an employee death. In 2018, a Western Engineering employee suffered fatal injuries after being pulled into an unguarded slat/drag conveyor at the company’s Nebraska asphalt plant.
In a statement, OSHA’s Omaha Area Office Director said that “Employers are required to develop safety and health programs that address known hazards and ensure that safety procedures are followed to prevent tragedies such as this from recurring.”
The confined space violations included failure to develop a confined space entry program; failure to issue safety permits; failure to test atmospheric conditions; and failure to provide air testing and monitoring equipment.
28-year-old Andrew Martinez (of Weslaco, TX) was fatally injured at Western Engineering’s North Platte (NE) facility in November of 2018 when he was pulled into an unguarded slat/drag conveyor on the job. On the day of the event, emergency workers were called to the plant for body recovery. Upon arrival, they discovered the Martinez pinned in the machinery and deceased.
If you have any concerns about safety at your facility, please contact the Industrial Safety Experts at Martin Technical. 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 the complex by offering real-world solutions for Lockout/Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Machine Safety, Safety Consulting Services, and Employee Training.
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.
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.
New Castle, DE – A worker lost three fingers following an lockout/tagout accident involving a punch press at Wilmington Fibre Specialty Company Inc.
OSHA has cited the New Castle (DE) vulcanized fiber manufacturer for exposing employees to multiple workplace safety hazards totaling $146,152 in proposed penalties.
The violations stem from an accident in December of 2017, during which an employee at the Wilmington Fibre Specialty Company reached into the die of a press to dislodge a jam. Unfortunately, as the worker reached into the machine, he also stepped on a lever that started the machine. The die came down on the employee’s hand, resulting in the amputation of three fingers.
OSHA inspected Wilmington Fibre Specialty and found that the facility’s punch press had inadequate machine guarding and that the company failed to enforce mandated safety procedures. OSHA documented violations including inadequate machine guarding, failure to use lockout/tagout procedures to control hazardous energy, and failure to report the incident.
Additionally, OSHA cited the company for multiple maintenance failures: failure to perform maintenance, repairs and safeguards where employees were exposed to amputation hazards; failure to perform maintenance and inspections on multiple parts of the punch press; and failure to ensure employees received proper training and were competent in operating the machinery.
Wilmington Fibre Specialty was also cited for inadequate lockout tag out procedures. Lockout/Tagout procedures are written instructions detailing how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment. Implementing Lockout/Tagout, having procedures visible to the workforce, and training workers on how to safely maintain equipment all help to prevent the startup of machinery that may result in a worker injury.
The OSHA inspection also revealed machine safety failures, specifically the failure to use safety blocks. Safety blocks should have been inserted between the upper and lower dies during machine maintenance to prevent the dies from sliding down.
Lastly, Wilmington Fibre Specialty was cited for failing to report the incident. OSHA was alerted to the need for a workplace safety inspection only after noticing coverage of the amputation in local news media reports.
As stated by OSHA Wilmington Area Office Director Erin Patterson, “When lockout/tagout is not implemented and machines are not guarded, employees are exposed to hazards that can cause amputations, and other serious injuries.”