Worker Loses Limbs to Machine in Delaware

Seaford, DE – Seaford Ice Inc faces $77,000 in fines after a second worker in three years lost limbs to the same machine. Seaford Ice Inc. was issued nine safety violations on Nov. 18 stemming from the most recent incident.

The alleged safety violations were recorded during repeat inspections of the company’s plant after the May 28 incident in which 20-year-old Jalen Benson of Seaford was breaking ice when he fell into an unguarded screw conveyor. Benson initially was flown to Nanticoke Memorial Hospital before being taken to Christiana Hospital, where his legs reportedly were removed.

The same screw conveyor that injured Benson also amputated another worker’s foot in June 2012, OSHA spokeswoman Leni Fortson said. At that time, OSHA inspectors found a safety guard meant to protect workers from injury had been improperly installed, creating a gap large enough for the worker to fall into the machine.

Seaford Ice was issued five safety violations after that incident and required to pay $4,480 in fines as part of a settlement agreement. Once the deal was reached, OSHA inspectors verified that the safety guard on the screw conveyor had been adjusted to properly protect workers. However, after Benson lost his legs in May, inspectors found the machine’s safety guard had been removed entirely. OSHA officials classify this as a “willful” disregard of employee safety.

In addition to violations related to the screw conveyor, OSHA inspectors also cited Seaford Ice for failing to fully enclose multiple horizontal belts and pulleys used bag ice and dispense bag ties, creating additional amputation hazards for workers who stationed less than 2 feet from the machines. Other violations were issued for electrical hazards and the absence of a lockout/tagout program that would prevent machines from being started accidentally.

Seaford Ice produces and distributes packaged ice products for retail, commercial and industrial uses and sells more than 4 million bags of ice a year to restaurants, hotels and other customers.

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