Grain Elevator Faces $143,000 OSHA Penalty

Failure to provide fall protection and lack of machine guarding, two of the most common violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, are at the heart of the problems now confronting Agland Co-op, which operates a Nickerson, Neb., grain elevator.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began its inspection of the Nickerson facility in February as a result of a complaint. Late last week OSHA announced it was citing the co-op for two alleged willful, seven serious, two repeat and one other-than-serious violation. The citations add up to a total proposed penalty of $143,300.

The alleged willful citations are for not providing fall protection for walkways 25 feet above the floor and lack of power transmission guards on machines, said OSHA Regional Administrator Charles Adkins, CIH. The alleged serious violations are tied to fall hazards, unsafe use of ladders, lack of training for powered industrial trucks, unguarded rotating machine parts and electrical hazards. Electrical hazards are included in the repeat violations.

"We've been inspected by OSHA before, but we've never been hit with a fine this large," commented Rich Heidemann, financial controller for Agland. Heidemann said the co-op is reviewing the OSHA report and already has corrected some of the problems.

"We're not making comments because it is a hefty fine, and we need to seek counsel and discuss it with OSHA," he said.

The Agland official explained that even though the company has been cited for repeat violations, OSHA has never visited the Nickerson facility before.

"We have 14 locations, so there may have been a frayed wire at another location, and when they saw a frayed wire at Nickerson, that's a repeat violation, according to OSHA," Heidemann said.

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