A horrific incident at Yank Waste Co. Inc., of Albany, N.Y., claimed the life of a worker and has led the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to propose penalties totaling $64,100.
On June 5, 2001, an employee entered a shredder to perform routine cleaning. The shredder was not deenergized and the employee was killed when another employee started the shredder. OSHA Area Director John Tomich said that the tragedy could have been averted had the company utilized lockout/tagout procedures.
Lockout/tagout procedures should be followed during maintenance or repair operations to a machine. They ensure that power sources are locked in the "off" position and clearly marked with a tag so other workers will not turn the machine on by mistake.
"There is no reason why an employer should fail to recognize such a basic hazard as lockout/tagout." Tomich said. "The standard is clear, the hazard is very real, and the unfortunate consequences in this case were tragic, in that the accident was preventable."
OSHA also cited the company for allegedly failing to provide employees with adequate training in safe energy control procedures, failing to document energy control training, unsafe stacking of materials, inadequate maintenance of powered industrial trucks, use of an unguarded portable grinder, and employee exposure to electrical hazards. OSHA issued a willful violation to the firm for its failure to use group lockout/tagout procedures. Other citations were classified as serious.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard for, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSHA Act and its regulations. A serious violation is defined as a condition that exists where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm may result.
The firm has until Dec. 21 to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])