Safety and OSHA News

Worker pulled into machine by his jacket: $175K fine in connection with death

A lack of safety training played a part in the death of an employee at a manufacturing plant, according to OSHA. 

The Tonawanda Coke Corp. employee was pulled into the rotating shaft of a coal elevator on Jan. 6, 2016.

As the worker prepared to grease and lubricate the elevator, his jacket was caught, pulling him onto the rotating shaft.

OSHA says the elevator at the Tonawanda, NY, plant wasn’t shut down nor locked out at its power source, as required by the hazardous energy control (lockout/tagout) standard.

The company received two repeat and six serious violations with a proposed total of $175,200 in fines. The violations include failure to:

  • ensure the shutdown of power sources for the coal elevator and another machine and that energy isolation devices had lockout devices affixed
  • guard projecting shafts and bolts on the coal elevator against employee contact
  • provide hazardous energy control training to authorized employees and inform them of the location of energy control devices (repeat)
  • conduct and certify an inspection of energy-control procedures (repeat)
  • ensure the full lockout of an energy control device
  • maintain working surfaces in a clean and dry condition, and
  • ensure to bolt covers of electrical disconnects fully.

The repeat violations are based on similar hazards cited during OSHA inspections in 2010 and 2014.

“Training employees on lockout procedures and ensuring those procedures are used would have prevented this needless loss of a worker’s life,” said Michael Scime, OSHA’s area director in Buffalo, NY.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the violations and fines to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director for an informal conference or contest them before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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