Gainesville, GA– OSHA of the US Department of Labor cited Foundation Food Group Inc. and three other companies for a total of 59 violations and a combined $998,637 in penalties following its investigation of a liquid nitrogen leak that killed six people working in a Prime-Pak Foods processing plant in Gainesville, GA.
The incident occurred January 28th, after a freezer at the plant malfunctioned, releasing colorless, odorless liquid nitrogen into the air, displacing the oxygen in the room. OSHA said in its report that three maintenance workers entered the freezer room without safety precautions. The three maintenance workers and three other workers died immediately.
OSHA investigated the incident and found that Foundation Food Group and Messer LLC of Bridgewater, NJ, “failed to implement any of the safety procedures or necessary to prevent the accident and found that did not do safety training for employees on the safety procedures they can take to protect themselves, and the methods used to detect the presence or release of nitrogen, the hazards of liquid nitrogen, and emergencies.
“This horrible tragedy could have been prevented had the employers taken the time to use – and teach their workers the importance of – safety precautions,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer in Atlanta. “Instead, six workers died because their employers failed to follow necessary procedures and to comply with required safety and health standards. We hope other industry employers learn from this terrible incident and comply with requirements to prevent similar incidents.”
OSHA cited Foundation Food Group Inc. for 26 violations for the uncontrolled release of liquid nitrogen; the Company also failed to develop, document, and use lockout procedures, nor ensure the procedures were shared between the host employer and contractors. The Company faces $595,474 in penalties.
FS Group Inc., which manufactures equipment and provides mechanical servicing, was also cited by OSHA for eight serious violations for failure to train workers on the physical and health hazards and emergency procedures. The Company also failed to ensure the development and use of specific written lockout procedures and ensure that the host employer and contractors shared information on lockout procedures. FS Group faces $42,325 in penalties.
East Norriton, NJ– According to an OSHA investigation, Wilmer Mejía Landaverde, a New Jersey worker building an Amazon warehouse in East Norriton, fell from the structure’s roof. Mejia’s fall was fatal due to his injuries from falling 25 feet.
A Trenton-based construction contractor employed Mejía. Mejía’s brother, Josué, said he and his brother were replacing roofing material before Mejía’s fall; he recalled that his brother removed his safety ties briefly for a water break. Both workers have cables attached while they work. After returning from break, he did not put his cable back on.
According to East Norriton police, the fall occurred at 3:48 p.m. at a construction site on 53 West Germantown Pike. Amazon was not involved in the construction nor are they under investigation.
In a statement, an official from IMC Construction stated: “Despite extensive safety training, inspections, procedures, instructions, safety personnel on-site and mandated safety requirements, the worker was witnessed by his co-workers removing his mandated safety line from his safety harness while on the roof, and within minutes fell.”
Amazon spokesperson Branden Baribeau noted that the East Norriton site is under construction, with no Amazon employees. “We’re saddened by this tragic incident and extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones,” he said. “It is our understanding that OSHA is investigating, and we will work with them as needed.”
OSHA stated it has up to six months to complete the investigation. In addition to the Construction Contractors, the agency said it is also investigating the roofing contractor.
“Falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths,” OSHA experts caution on the agency’s website. “Employers must set up the workplace to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated workstations or into holes in the floor and walls.”
CATHEDRAL CITY, CA – OSHA has fined contractors for a fatal accident in which a metal gate collapsed and crushed a 41-year-old construction worker. The metal gate weighed 3,000 pounds and was located near the casino’s loading dock.
The accident occurred on December 7th 2020 at Agua Caliente Casino Cathedral City, according to OSHA’s press release. OSHA’s investigation that followed found the project’s contractors failed to conduct inspections to discover hazards, instruct employees on how to recognize workplace dangers, and install caution signs to warn workers about potential hazards. The three contractors, Penta Building Group, No Limit Steel and The Raymond Group, face $64,169 in combined penalties.
OSHA Area Director Derek Engard was quoted as saying “Required oversight and communication related to workplace safety and health could have prevented this tragic loss of life. This case is a painful reminder of why employers must make complying with workplace safety standards a priority.”
PEWAUKEE, WI – A water facility has been cited for a fall injury in the Milwaukee area. A worker was injured in 2020. A guardrail was loosened. The worker then fell and struck his head on a support beam. The accident occurred in a nearly 30-foot deep water test pit.
The water facility cited for the fall injury is Xylem Inc. In OSHA’s press release they explain the company is being cited for nine violations. Eight of the violations are serious, and one willful. The penalties for these violations total $234,054. Over half that amount is due to the willful violation. That violation is for failure to provide fall protection.
Most the remainder of the penalties are made up by confined space safety violations. Xylem is being cited as failing to follow permit-required procedures before entering the water test pits.
The OSHA Area Director stated, “This worker’s injury could have been prevented if appropriate fall protection was provided.”
Xylem Inc. is a water company specializing in wastewater and energy. Xylem employs over 1,600 workers in the US. 57 of these are at their Pewaukee water facility that is cited for the fall injury.
The company has 15 business days from receipt to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.