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.
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.
Waukegan, IL- An OSHA investigation into the deaths of four employees of an Illinois chemical plant has resulted in more than a million dollars in proposed penalties against AB Specialty Silicones LLC.
The company has been cited for a dozen willful federal safety violations in the explosion and fire at its Waukegan facility on May 3, 2019 that caused deaths of four employees.
The silicon chemical products manufacturer faces $1,591,176 in penalties and has been placed in the in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
OSHA investigators determined AB Specialty Silicones failed to ensure that electrical equipment and installations in the production area of the plant complied with OSHA electrical standards, and were approved for hazardous locations. The company also used forklifts powered by liquid propane to transport volatile flammable liquids, and operated these forklifts in areas where employees handled and processed volatile flammable liquids and gases, creating the potential for ignition.
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 machinery 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.
PETERS TOWNSHIP, PA – Cameron Allen Funk, 19, Greencastle, was found dead at Mellott Manufacturing, according to a release from Pennsylvania State Police, Chambersburg. Funk’s death was caused by a heavy piece of machinery falling on him.
Dispatchers identified the incident as an industrial accident with entrapment when first calling emergency personnel to the scene. An update soon after indicated there was no entrapment, but that a person was dead. State police arrived on scene around 3:00 PM on Wednesday, February 28.
State Police, the Franklin County Coroner’s Office and OSHA are investigating the incident. As of right now the death ruled an accident.
“The employer has no prior OSHA inspection history,” said Joanna P. Hawkins, deputy regional director for the U.S. Department of Labor, Philadelphia. “OSHA has up to six months to complete its investigation.”
Mellott Manufacturing makes conveyors and machines for the sawmill, pallet and woodworking industry. Sixty employees work there, per the company’s website.
This is the fourth death in Franklin County, PA in the last month from heavy machinery. Three people died earlier this month as a result of a crane accident at Manitowoc Crane in Shady Grove, just east of Greencastle.
Watkins, MN – A maintenance worker was killed last week when he became pinned in the industrial machinery he was working on at International Barrier Technology. Rescue workers freed the man from the equipment and began life saving efforts, but sadly, he died at the scene.
The worker was identified as Todd Shoutz, 51, of Litchfield (MN). Shoutz, a maintenance worker at Barrier Technology, was reportedly working on a machine and became pinned in a piece of equipment. Despite the efforts of emergency teams on the scene, the employee succumbed to his injuries after being freed from the equipment.
The International Barrier Technology plant in MN processes building materials to make them fire-resistant.
Marshfield, WI – Felker Brothers Corp faces $110,458 in fines for 13 serious violations of federal workplace safety regulations, including failure to adequately anchor machinery to the floor and other machine safety concerns.
OSHA investigated the Wisconsin manufacturer of steel pipes and tubes after receiving report of a worker who suffered severe injuries after being struck by a moving piece of machinery. The worker was hospitalized after suffering a shattered jaw and concussion.
At Martin Technical, we are very aware that safety solutions must not hinder production or reduce the capacity of the machine. During machine safety inspections, each individual machine is registered, defects detected and recorded, and safety hazards are discussed with the staff to attain consensus on any suggested solutions. After inspection, we prepare a report outlining the various deficiencies including photo documentation and a description of necessary changes. This report can become a foundational document for the staff who must implement the safety related solutions.
Machine safety inspections include mechanical parts, electrical components, safety switches, emergency stops, and guards. While machines must be safe to use, they must also not hinder production or reduce the capacity of the machine. Inspection of machinery is based on the grounds that the machine must be safe to use and machinery and equipment must be maintained in good and safe working condition.
Felker Brothers Corp. manufactures and custom fabricates stainless steel pipe, tubes, and fittings at manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin and Kentucky.
Cusseta, AL – Ajin USA, Alliance Total Solutions, and Joynus Staffing Corp., have been issued fines of over $2.5 million by the Department of Labor. The auto parts supplier and the two staffing agencies it employed were issued 27 separate OSHA citations for safety violations following the investigation of the June 2016 death of Regina Allen Elsea.
The fines and citations came in response to the death of a 20-year-old worker who was crushed to death in a robotic machine. Tragically, the accident took place just two weeks before the woman’s wedding.
OSHA’s investigators reported that Elsea and three coworkers entered a robotic station to clear a sensor after the assembly line stopped. The robot within unexpectedly restarted, and the woman was crushed to death inside the machine.
Ajin USA makes parts for Hyundai and Kia and employs around 700 workers at it’s Cusseta plant. Alliance and Joynus, with offices in Opelika (AL), provide about 250 temporary workers to Ajin USA, as reported in a DOL statement.
OSHA is calling this a “senseless tragedy,” and has determined that the fatality could have been prevented by following federally mandated safety precautions such as lockout/tagout and machine guarding.
Citations and causes of the accident included the following: Failure to utilize energy control procedures to prevent machinery from starting up during maintenance and servicing; workers’ exposure to caught-in, struck-by and crushing hazards by allowing them to enter a robotic cell without shutting down and securing hazardous stored energy according to safety procedures; Failure to provide safety locks to isolation hazardous energy; and employee exposure to crushing and amputation hazards due to improper machine guarding.
West Chester, OH – Republic Wire, an Ohio cable wire insulation maker, faces proposed fines of $69,300 for numerous violations and failures found by OSHA inspectors. One violation was deemed to be willful.
OSHA began investigating Republic Wire after a 30-year-old line operator’s left pinky finger was amputated by a machine last November while the employee was welding two copper cables.
McComb, OH – “America’s Bakery,” Hearthside Food Solutions, is facing $52,500 in proposed federal fines after a McComb (OH) factory employee lost part of a finger due to neglect of Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) procedures.
OSHA found that a lack of adequate safeguards on a dough-cutting machine cost a 55-year-old worker part of his right middle finger while he was unjamming the machine. Safeguards that protect workers maintaining machinery are known in the industry as lockout/tagout procedures.
Hearthside Food Solutions was cited for a similar violation in 2010, and twice this year for failing to turn off the machine during maintenance and for not training employees on safety procedures to prevent exposure to moving parts, according to OSHA.
Hearthside bills themselves as the “food industry’s largest contract manufacturer of baked goods and bars.” They make cookies and crackers for Nabisco, Kellogg’s and General Mills. Based in Downers Grove, Illinois, Hearthside Food Solutions has 23 facilities in North America and Europe. The company employs about 6,000 workers, nearly 1,800 of them at the McComb plant.
Elk Grove Village, IL – OSHA is investigating how a worker killed outside of Chicago this week when his clothing became caught in machinery. Wayne Follman, age 50, was injured and killed when his clothing became caught in machinery at a Acme Industries warehouse in Elk Grove Village, a suburb northwest of Chicago.
Crews responded to the accident at Acme Industries and discovered a deceased 50-year-old man in a warehouse, according to a statement from the Elk Grove Village police department.
OSHA has launched an investigation and sent a compliance officer to the scene. Acme Industries manufactures machines parts, assemblies and components, according to the company’s website.