Workers Avoid Injury in Maine Paper Mill Explosion

Jay, ME- Malfunctioning machinery sent wood fiber and other debris shooting into the sky after a massive explosion at a paper mill in Jay, Maine, Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

All employees at the mill have since been accounted for and no injuries were reported.

At 12:06 p.m., Jay police and fire officials received reports of an explosion at a paper factory operated by Pixelle Specialty Paper Solutions at 300 Riley Rd., Davis said. Pixelle spokeswoman Roxie Lassetter said a rupture in the pressure valve of a digester, which creates pulp from wood chips to be used in the paper, caused the explosion.

Lassetter said none of the 165 employees who were inside the building were near the explosion. Some employees and people close to the plant were treated at the scene for minor respiratory issues from the debris in the air, but no one was taken to the hospital, she said.

Lassetter said the blast sent water, wood fiber, and chemicals used during the pulping process into the air during the blast. Environmental officials from the state will assess the area for any hazards, she said.

Pixelle has yet to determine the extent of the damage. Fire officials and representatives from the company will start to assess the site Thursday morning, though Lassetter said the area of the blast has sustained “significant damage.”

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OSHA fines Company 150k after Employee Amputation

Lawrence Township, NJ- BWay Corp.—doing business as Mauser Packaging Solutions—received a citation from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for workplace safety and health hazards after an employee suffered an amputation on Sept. 26, 2019, at its Lawrence Township facility. The company now faces $151,329 in penalties.

OSHA inspected the facility after being notified that an employee was cleaning a machine when the amputation occurred. The agency cited BWay Corp. for failing to use lockout/tagout procedures to protect employees from hazardous energy. OSHA cited the company for similar violations at multiple facilities between 2016 and 2019.

“Workers servicing or maintaining machines are at risk of serious injury, including amputations, if hazardous energy is not properly controlled,” OSHA Marlton Area Office Director Paula Dixon-Roderick said in the statement. “This company must correct the hazards identified to protect workers’ safety.”

The company had 15 business days from receipt of the 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.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. 

OSHA fines NJ Company 150k after Employee Amputation

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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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Fatality in California Raisin Factory

Sanger,CA- A woman died after her hair and clothing got stuck while clearing debris on Friday from a raisin processing machine, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said. The fatality from the incident happened at the Del Rey Packing Company’s dehydrator plant near Sanger, California.

The woman was identified as 33-year-old Yaneth Lopez Valladares.

Fresno Sheriff’s say Valladares got a piece of loose clothing caught in a machine used to process raisins.

The machine severely injured her, causing her to pass away at the scene as a result of the trauma she suffered, officials say.

Two other employees were nearby and immediately powered down the equipment and dialed 911. This was the woman’s second year working at this particular facility.

Valladares’s boss was too shaken and distraught to speak to us on camera, but he says his heart goes out to her family and friends.raisin factory fatality California

Cal OSHA is investigating the incident, which could take a few months to complete, and released this statement:

An employee working for a farm labor contractor named Blessed Harvest was working on a Stem Grading Line when their clothing got caught on a shaft to a cylinder that breaks up raisin bunches, causing the employee to strike their head.

They will also be looking to see if there were any violations at this facility and if proper training was given to employees.

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Worker Seriously Injured in Industrial Accident in Steel Mill

Gary, IN- A worker was seriously injured in an industrial accident at Gary Works Wednesday.

The steelworker suffered multiple injuries and was taken to Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus in downtown Gary. Information on his condition was not immediately available but he is expected to survive.

“We had a worker that got seriously hurt with several injuries but none life-threatening,” United Steelworkers District 7 Director Mike Millsap said. “All I know is he is a maintenance technician and was working on (a blast furnace) and he got hit by something.”

U.S. Steel’s OSHA Recordable Incident Rate has been 0.14 per 200,000 hours so far this year, down from 0.17 in 2017.

steel mill industrial accident Though the United Steelworkers union and steelmakers have worked for years to prioritize workplace safety at the industrial mills, the hulking factories where metal is forged post many inherent hazards that include hot temperatures, catwalks over great heights, and moving equipment that weighs tons. Steelworker ranks as the sixth most deadly job nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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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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OSHA Fines Area Construction Firm for Repeat and Serious Jobsite Violations

Kansas City, MO- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited a Kansas City-area construction company for multiple violations observed during a May jobsite visit.

According to KSHB, OSHA fined Blue Nile Contractors Inc. $210,037 for failing “to protect employees from trench collapse and electrical hazards.” Inspectors reported four repeat and five serious safety violations during the visit to a site where water lines were being installed.

Blue Nile is a minority-owned wet utility contractor that specializes in trenchless sewer and water construction. The Birmingham, Mo., company was selected as one of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Top 10 Small Businesses in 2018.

Blue Nile has been placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program, KSHB reports. The company has 15 days to comply with OSHA demands or contest the findings.

Proper training and education regarding OSHA violations and accident prevention are is one way for companies to combat these high fines.

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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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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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Unguarded Saw Results in Amputation + Fines for PA Packager

unguarded saw, osha, amputation,Hatfield, PA – OSHA has cited Prime Packaging Partners for exposing employees to 19 different safety and health hazards at its Hatfield (PA) dog treat manufacturing facility following an industrial accident in which an employee suffered amputation due to an unguarded saw blade.

The proposed fines for these 19 violations of federal workplace safety standards total $180,685.

OSHA conducted an inspection of the Hatfield (PA) facility following a complaint that an employee suffered an amputation from unguarded saw blades.

Prime Packaging Partners has been cited for failure to implement lockout/tagout procedures; blocking electrical panels; exposing workers to confined space, machine guarding, and electrical hazards; as well as failure to develop a hazard communication program.

According to OSHA, “moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries, such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, or blindness. Safeguards are essential for protecting workers from these preventable injuries. Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact injure the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled.”

At Martin Technical, our team of safety professionals specializes in lockout/tagout proceduresmachine guarding, and industrial safety compliance.

During a professional machine safety inspection, each individual machine is registered; and defects are detected and documented. Most importantly, safety hazards are discussed with the staff involved to raise awareness and gain buy-in on the suggested solution.

Following inspection, Martin Technical prepares a report outlining the various deficiencies including photo documentation and a description of necessary changes. Often, this report becomes a cornerstone document for the staff tasked with implementing the safety solutions.

Contact our industrial safety team today to discuss how Martin Technical can strengthen the culture of safety at your facility.

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