Resulted in two fatalities, nine injuries

Facility Collapse

A structural failure of the east side truss caused the bins to collapse down three floors into the center of International Nutrition’s Omaha facility.

The structural collapse of International Nutrition Inc.’s Omaha-facility, was caused by overloading nine storage bins on the building’s roof level, an investigation by OSHA has found. The collapse at the livestock feed supplement manufacturer caused the death of two workers and injuries to nine others. The company manufactures a feed supplement using multiple dry ingredients, rice hulls, solulac and limestone – the ingredients that were stored in the nine bins on the roof of the structure. As a result of the incident, OSHA cited the company with one willful, one repeat and 11 additional safety violations for failing to protect workers from hazards associated with structural collapse.

The investigation determined a structural failure of the east side truss, after bins that it supported were loaded with an excess of limestone. The extra weight caused the bins to collapse three floors into the center of the facility in about 30 seconds. A 53-year-old worker, who had been with the company just over a year, was cleaning on the second floor and a 47-year-old worker, who had been employed at the facility for 10 years, was conducting maintenance when the bins collapsed. Both were fatally injured. Four workers were trapped in the rubble of the building after the collapse and were rescued by the Omaha Fire Department’s ladder truck rescue team. They and five other workers were transported to the hospital with injuries.

International Nutrition’s decision to overload these bins directly led to the deaths of these two workers and the injuries sustained by nine other employees,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Families lost loved ones because International Nutrition did not follow the basic safety procedures that would have prevented this senseless loss of life.”

OSHA has proposed penalties of $120,560 and placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program after its investigation into the collapse.

The company’s failure to protect workers from hazards associated with overloading the bin structures on the roof and its subsequent collapse resulted in the issuance of one willful safety citation. A repeat violation was also issued for failing to protect workers from hazards associated with using compressed air at greater than the recommended 30 pounds per square inch. The company was previously cited for this violation in 2011.

A total of nine serious violations were also cited for combustible dust hazards including failure to provide proper dust ventilation and failure to follow respiratory protection standards. The company was also cited for failing to train workers on confined space requirements, hazard communication and proper operation of powered industrial vehicles. Other violations included lack of specific lockout/tagout procedures to protect workers operating dangerous machinery and failing to de-energize potential ignition sources when using compressed air for cleaning.

To view the current citations see: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/International_Nutrition_955579_Jul18_2014.pdf.

Posted in Combustible Dust, Hazard Communication, OSHA, OSHA Inspections, Powered Industrial Trucks, Respiratory Protection | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

$816,500 in Proposed Fines

Ventilation plant.SIDNEY, Ohio — After providing false documentation and making false representations claiming that previously cited hazards related to hydraulic presses had been corrected, Formed Fiber Technologies LLC has been issued 14 safety citations, including willful and repeat citations, as well as a notice of failure to abate with proposed fines totaling $816,500. OSHA initiated the inspection as a follow-up inspection pursuant to its Severe Violators Enforcement Program.

The Sidney plant, which produces motor vehicle interior trimmings for automotive manufacturers, including Toyota and General Motors, was issued one failure to abate, nine willful and four repeat safety violations for continuously exposing employees to amputations and other hazards.

“Formed Fiber Technologies apparently decided that production was more important than ensuring its workers’ safety. They provided false abatement documentation to OSHA. They knew how hazardous these machines were without proper safeguards and also knew exactly how to fix those hazards,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “OSHA will not tolerate such blatant disregard for worker safety.”

OSHA’s January follow-up inspection found that abatement documentation Formed Fiber provided to OSHA in December 2013 was false and that employees had been exposed to unguarded machines and unsafe maintenance procedures well after the employer’s abatement claims. Failing to protect workers from dangerous machinery is among the most frequently cited OSHA violations and injuries involving this type of machinery often result in death or permanent disability.

Nine willful citations were issued for failing to prevent the startup of multiple hydraulic thermoforming presses, laminator machines and robot cells while workers were performing set-up, service and maintenance inside the machines. The company also failed to develop proper lockout/tag out procedures and encouraged workers to use unsafe methods to stop machines for maintenance. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Four repeat violations cited also involve failing to train workers on how to properly stop machines before service and maintenance, which continuously exposed machine operators to laceration, amputation, burns and having parts of the machine strike or crush them. The company failed to have identifying information on devices to indicate hazards.

OSHA previously cited Formed Fiber Technologies in October 2013 for 11 violations, many involving the same standards. The company entered into a settlement agreement that included terms involving the abatement of hazards and paying a penalty of $69,000. Prior to October 2013, the company had been inspected by OSHA 16 times at their facilities nationwide, resulting in 80 violations being cited.

The current citations may be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/FormedFiberTechnologies_956889_07_15_14.pdf.

The company, based in Auburn, Maine, manufactures nonwoven fabrics and polyester staple fibers for the automotive industry. It employs 750 workers corporate wide, with 340 at the Sidney facility. Formed Fiber Technologies also operates Color-Fi Inc. in Sumter, South Carolina.

Posted in Lockout/Tagout, Machine Safety, OSHA, OSHA Inspections | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Management repeatedly warned of unsafe conditions

iStock_000020632383XSmall Construction TrenchGAINESVILLE, Fla. – An employee of R.E. Arnold Construction Inc. was trapped when the wall of an excavation he was working in collapsed around him. The incident occurred as the employee removed dirt from a storm filtration system at the company’s work site, and the local fire and rescue team had to remove the employee, who left the scene in critical condition. As a result, OSHA cited R.E Arnold with one willful and two serious safety violations. The subcontractor, Suntree Technologies Inc., was cited for four serious safety violations. The city of Gainesville contracted R.E. Arnold to build a retaining pond and pump station for the Depot Park.

“These employers deliberately chose not to follow established OSHA standards for protecting workers in excavations and repeatedly ignored warnings, including one on the day of the incident, that the trench was unsafe,” said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA’s area director in Jacksonville. “This shortcut led to a worker seriously injured and nearly killed.”

R.E. Arnold was issued a willful citation for failing to provide employees working in a 15-foot-deep excavation with required protection from wall collapse hazards. A Gainesville city safety inspector informed management numerous times that the excavation was unsafe, yet safety issues were not corrected. On the day of the incident, an inspector refused to enter the trench, claiming that it was too dangerous. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

OSHA standards require that all trenches and excavation sites 5 feet or deeper be protected against sidewall collapses. Protection may be provided through shoring of trench walls, sloping of the soil at a shallow angle or by using a protective trench box. OSHA has created a National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation.

The serious citations were issued to R.E. Arnold for exposing workers to dangerous safety and fall hazards by failing to provide them with hard hats and fall protection equipment. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Suntree Technologies was cited for four serious safety violations for failure to provide fall protection for employees working at heights above 6 feet. Additionally, management did not ensure workers were wearing hard hats while inside the excavation, exposing them to hazards from falling debris.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $83,000 for R.E. Arnold and $18,200 for Suntree Technologies. The current citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/REArnold-954792-06232014.pdf .

R.E. Arnold, based in Gainesville, specializes in site preparation and underground utilities and has no previous OSHA inspection history. The company employs approximately 24 workers. Cocoa-based Suntree Technologies specializes in storm filtration products. It employs 24 people and has no previous OSHA inspection history.

Posted in Fall Protection, OSHA Inspections, PPE, Trench Safety | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

 by David McGill, CIH, CSP, CHMM

Chemical Safety“What’s an industrial hygienist?” is a common question that most professional industrial hygienists have been asked at least once in their careers. But before we get too far into the nitty-gritty of industrial hygiene, let’s take a look at the profession from the 5,000 foot level, sort of a general overview.

Most agree that a good general definition of industrial hygiene is “… the science of anticipating, recognizing, evaluating, and controlling workplace conditions that may cause workers’ injury or illness”. You don’t need to look too far to find this definition. It came right from the OSHA website. Similar definitions with a few variations can be found in other materials, but the OSHA definition covers the profession quite nicely. Some would add communicating to the list, but that’s relatively recent. As a practical matter, industrial hygiene is the science of identifying and controlling workplace and community hazards (now commonly and collectively called “stressors”) that can cause adverse health effects usually through inhalation, ingestion, or absorption. In addition to these, there are industrial hygiene sub-specialties specific to:  repetitive motion, overexertion, heat, vibration, radiation, mold, etc., with more being added as our technological world advances.

In earlier times, the industrial hygienist basically was limited to sample pumps, filters, tubes, counters, and meters to determine potential exposure. Today, thanks to technology advances, the industrial hygienist has a multitude of analytical tools available to perform a comprehensive assessment relatively quickly and with minimal production impact. However, the fundamental principles of industrial hygiene have not changed – namely, the anticipation, evaluation, recognition, and control of hazardous substances that could potentially cause adverse health effects.

“What’s an industrial hygienist?” – It’s a scientist focused on keeping workers healthy.

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Fresh From Texas Inc. and iWorks Personnel Inc. fined a total of $135,200

ear plugsFresh From Texas Inc., a fresh fruit and vegetable processor for H-E-B Grocery stores and fast-food markets, and staffing agency iWorks Personnel Inc. have been cited for 18 violations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for exposing workers to damaging noise levels, chemical hazards and possible amputation hazards for failing to train machine operators on controlling hazardous energy. The total proposed fine for the complaint inspection that began in December 2013 is $135,200.

“Workers, whether employed directly by the company or as a temporary worker, require proper training on workplace hazards. In this case, both Fresh From Texas and iWorks failed to do so and put workers in danger,” said Kelly C. Knighton, OSHA’s area director in San Antonio. “Both host employers and staffing agencies have roles in complying with workplace health and safety requirements, and they share responsibility for ensuring worker safety and health.”

Fresh From Texas was cited for 12 serious safety and health violations, with a penalty of $76,100, for failing to prevent workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals; to identify and evaluate respiratory hazards in the workplace; and to ensure a hearing conservation program was implemented for workers exposed to noise levels that would cause permanent hearing damage. Regarding slicing and dicing machines, violations were cited for failing to establish a written lockout/tagout program for energy sources to ensure machines were turned off when workers were inside them; provide machine operators with training; guard rotating gears; and provide safety instructions on the machines.

Two repeat violations were cited, with a penalty of $49,500, for failing to ensure sufficient working space around electrical equipment and unobstructed access to fire extinguishers. Similar violations were cited in 2012. Three other violations, with a penalty of $3,300, were cited for failing to record injuries of temporary workers, review the log for accuracy and ensure safety instructions were clearly posted on dangerous machines.

OSHA inspectors found that temporary workers employed by iWorks Personnel were also exposed to chemical hazards and were not trained on chemical safety. As a result, OSHA cited iWorks for one serious safety and health violation, with a penalty of $6,300.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

In April 2013, OSHA announced an initiative to improve workplace safety and health for temporary workers. During the inspection, OSHA inspectors paid special attention to the hazards facing temporary workers to determine the role the host employer and the staffing agency played in the dangers.

The citations can be viewed at:
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Fresh_From_Texas_Inc_953367_0627_14.pdf,
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Fresh_From_Texas_Inc_953588_0627_14.pdf and
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/iWorksPersonnelInc_dba_PreferredStaffingLLC.pdf.

Posted in Chemical Safety, Hearing Protection, Lockout/Tagout, Machine Safety, OSHA, OSHA Inspections, Respiratory Protection | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Discount retailer cited for similar hazards at other stores nationwide

iStock_000017378933XSmallEmployees at the Dollar Tree Stores Inc. location in Boston’s Roslindale neighborhood repeatedly faced the dangers of blocked exits and hazardous conditions in the store’s stockroom, according following a complaint inspection by OSHA. Dollar Tree Stores faces a total of $177,800 in proposed fines.

“This case reflects this company’s deliberate and ongoing refusal to effectively address hazards that have been cited multiple times at their stores across the country,” said Brenda Gordon, OSHA’s area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts. “On his initial visit to the store, the OSHA inspector informed management of the hazards and the need to correct them. Yet, on subsequent visits, the inspector found these hazardous conditions again and again, showing an unacceptable disregard for employee health and safety.”

In its December 2013 inspection, OSHA found merchandise in the store’s stockroom was consistently stacked in an unstable and unsecured manner that exposed workers to crushing injuries should the stacks collapse. Emergency exit routes were also consistently blocked by store inventory, shopping carriages, a conveyor and garbage. In addition, the store failed to maintain a means of access to an electrical control panel so that employees could turn off the store’s electrical power in the event of an emergency.

For these conditions, OSHA cited Dollar Tree Stores for three willful violations with $174,500 in fines. Additionally, the company was cited for one serious violation, with a $3,300 fine, for allowing trash and garbage to accumulate throughout the stockroom, creating tripping and exit hazards for the workers. The citations can be viewed at here.

Dollar Tree Stores has been inspected 153 times nationally over 19 years and was cited for 453 violations of OSHA standards. Within the last five years, Dollar Tree Stores was cited 51 times for the same violations being cited willfully at the Roslindale store. Earlier this year, Dollar Tree Stores was cited for similar violations at stores in Wilmington, Delaware and Missoula, Montana.

“Placing employees repeatedly at risk of serious injuries or death is serial behavior for this company, and it must change,” said Robert Hooper, OSHA’s acting regional administrator for New England. “A large employer such as Dollar Tree Stores has a responsibility to its employees to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers at all of its more than 5,000 locations.”

Headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia, Dollar Tree Stores is a large single-price-point retailer, operating 5,080 stores in 48 states and five Canadian provinces as of May 3.

Posted in Electrical, Emergency Action Plan, Exit Routes, OSHA, OSHA Inspections, Slips/Trips/Falls | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

iStock_000003336633XSmallIt may sound rather silly, but it’s no joke.   ICE for the cell phone can be a help for first responders or medical providers.  We’re not talking about frozen water.  ICE is an acronym for In Case of Emergency.  ICE started several years ago, and with the number of cell phones in the U.S. estimated to be in excess of 58 million (and counting), ICE on your cell phone just makes good sense.

Here’s how it works.  You create a contact on your cell phone called ICE then assign a phone number to that contact.  That’s it!  Then, in case you are in an accident or not able to speak for yourself, someone can use the ICE on your telephone, identify themselves as a first responder, and tell your ICE contact where you are, how you are doing, etc.

Your ICE contact can be anyone – spouse, significant other, good friend, mother, father, sibling, other relative, etc.  You want your ICE contact to be someone who would be able to make decisions on your behalf in case you are unable to make these on your own.

ICE on the cell phone – it just makes good sense.

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It seems like every year around the 4th of July, we hear of a serious burn (or worse) caused by careless use of fireworks.  Often alcohol is involved.  As we approach the upcoming holiday, let’s take a minute to review some do’s and don’t’s concerning handling and use of fireworks.   Here are our top 10 fireworks safety precautions.

  1. Rocket FireworksAlcohol and fireworks are a dangerous mixture
  2. Inexperience can kill
  3. Know your limits
  4. Know your surroundings
  5. Watch from a safe distance
  6. Once lit, stand back
  7. Never throw lit fireworks at someone
  8. Never aim fireworks at someone
  9. Keep a bucket of water handy in case of fire
  10. Keep the children and pets away

Children are naturally curious and they usually reach to touch before they think (or know) the consequences.

As we celebrate our Independence Day, let’s make this 4th of July full of good times, good food, good fun, and good memories without a trip to the emergency room because we just didn’t think.

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Louisville, KY – Dwayne Towles, President of Advanced Safety & Health, LLC, recently announced the addition of David McGill, CIH, CSP, CHMM, to serve as the manager of Industrial Hygiene Services, further complementing the team of dedicated occupational health and safety professionals at Advanced Safety & Health. “He is an ardent safety and industrial hygiene  professional with a proven track record of implementing and managing well-designed safety and health management systems, specifically in the areas of industrial hygiene and environmental management”, said Towles.

Dave brings with him a wealth of knowledge and expertise as he has established and managed environmental, safety, and health programs in a variety of industrial settings including thermoplastics, molten metal, chemical, and metal die casting.  He also has expertise in radiation physics, radiation safety, explosives, chemical hygiene, site inspections, root cause analysis, asbestos abatement, medical management, and community monitoring.  In addition to industrial hygiene and occupational safety, Dave has developed and managed environmental programs for both large and small quantity generators including manifesting of hazardous waste, tracking, and disposal.  As an ISO 14001 Lead Auditor, he has implemented and maintained several Environmental Management Systems for various industries.  With his most recent role on the Deep Water Horizon oil spill clean-up, Dave continuously provided management and oversight for a multi-state area covering all aspects of industrial hygiene activities including technician supervision and assessment of exposures to petroleum, dusts, noise, pathogens, heat stress, and other toxic chemicals.  He has expertise in construction safety and has extensive experience in monitoring construction safety and health activities.

Dave holds a Master of Science degree in Physics from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana.  He is board certified in industrial hygiene (CIH), occupational safety (CSP), and hazardous materials management (CHMM).

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iStock_000022949794 DeadlineIn a Memorandum issued on June 20th, OSHA announced a delay in the enforcement of compliance regarding the recently released changes to the standards for electric power generation, transmission, and distribution installations. The new standards are still effective July 10, 2014, but the compliance deadline has been delayed until October 31, 2014.

The updated standards are intended to harmonize construction and general industry requirements so that the same rules apply generally to the same kinds of work. Additionally, OSHA based its revisions on the latest consensus standards and improvements in electrical safety technology.  Please see our recent blog article for further discussion regarding the updated standards.

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