Orlando, FL – A fatal combination of slip/fall and confined space hazards lead to the death of Harvest Power employee John Korody. Korody died after falling into a vat filled with oil and grease outside of Walt Disney World last month. The slip/fall hazard was compounded by overwhelming fumes surrounding the oil vat.
The accident happened at the Harvest Power facility that contracts with Disney World to recycle the resort’s food waste and convert it into renewable energy and fertilizers.
Two Harvest Power employees were emptying oil and grease byproduct from a semi-truck into a vat when Korody slipped on a grate and fell in. Korody’s co-worker tried to pull him to safety but fumes from the oil and grease byproduct overwhelmed both workers, and Korody slipped farther into the vat. Korody was pronounced dead at the scene, and the local Fire Department helped to recover his body.
OSHA estimates that about 90 deaths involving confined spaces occur every year in the US and unfortunately, two-thirds of those killed are workers attempting to rescue someone else from the confined space.
Many workplaces contain areas that are considered “confined spaces” because while they were not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. A confined space also has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy. Such spaces include (but are not limited to) tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, vats, equipment housings, ductwork, and pipelines.
OSHA outlines national workplace safety standards for permit-required confined spaces and the serious hazards they post to American workers. In addition to the difficultly in accessing and exiting confined spaces, these sites are often inadequately ventilated and/or trap noxious air. Without proper training, signage, and hazard mitigation planning, confined space conditions can result in tragic fatalities.
Auburn, New South Wales – Craig Tanner (42), father of three, was killed in a tragic lockout accident at an industrial ink manufacturer in West Sydney, Australia. Two other workers were hospitalized after also being trapped in the vat of ink. The three workers were cleaning the ink vat as part of a routine maintenance check when they became stuck at the DIC Australia Ink factory.
The men became trapped when a mixing blade unexpectedly started up while the tank was being cleaned at the factory. Tanner was working at DIC as a contractor. He was inside and cleaning the tank when the blade started moving and cut into his legs.
The vat was a cylinder shape, about 26 feet high with a mixing blade inside. Rescuers used manhole access at the bottom of the of the confined space to reach the workers. “Ink slush” at the bottom of the vat plus the confined nature of the space made the rescue extremely difficult. It took four hours to free the men who were covered in black ink, which further complicated their rescue and treatment.
A thorough investigation will be made to identify cause(s) of the accident, with special attention paid to how the mixing arm of the large vat accidentally switched on when the men were inside it at the time.
Bear Creek, WI – OSHA has issued the world’s largest sauerkraut cannery, GLK Foods LLC, nearly $150,000 in fines after a worker fell more than 17 feet into an empty sauerkraut vat and broke multiple bones on the job in October 2015.
The OSHA investigation found that GLK Foods failed to protect employees by not providing equipment to prevent falls or installing guard railings, not keeping floor holes covered, and not using locking devices to prevent unintentional use of machines and issued five serious, two repeat, one willful and one other-than-serious violations to the facility.
Johnson City, NY – An OSHA inspection at the Rob Salamida Co. food manufacturing plant found 11 types of violations amounting to a possible $79,600 in penalties. The investigation was triggered by a workplace incident in September 2015 in which a worker fell into a 3,000 gallon vinegar vat at Salamida’s Johnson City (NY) plant.
While attempting an annual cleaning, a 33-year-old Salamida employee was overcome by vapors in the confined space, fell backwards off a ladder, and lost consciousness in the bottom of the vat. The employee survived the incident after 5 days of hospitalization. The vat was empty at the time, save for 3-4″ of residue collected at the bottom. The employee was wearing a
OSHA reports that the Rob Salamida Co. had improper signage on vinegar vats and that employees were not being given proper respirator training or eye protection, among other citations. The largest penalty is for $56,000 for, claiming, “the employer did not evaluate the workplace for the presence of permit required confined spaces including but not limited to 3,000 gallon tanks containing cider vinegar, distilled white vinegar and red wine vinegar.”
OSHA found that the sauce and marinade manufacturer failed to identify confined space hazards inside the tank, such as oxygen deficiency and acetic acid vapors, and failed to provide air monitoring, ventilation and rescue equipment for employees entering confined spaces, on top of a list of other violations.
OSHA found many other hazards at the Rob Salamida Co. plant: There were no evident procedures, training or devices to lock out machines’ power sources to protect against their unintended startup (lockout/tagout); a lack of procedures to verify and maintain safe entry conditions; the need to post warning signs for confined spaces and train employees on confined safety hazards.