"Employers must provide workers with protection from workplace hazards to ensure that injury and illness rates continue to decline," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The significant penalty of $168,000 in this case demonstrates the administration's commitment to protecting the health and safety of American workers."
The OSHA inspection began on Nov. 25, 2003, in response to a report from the cooperative that an employee became engulfed in grain and died while performing a bin entry operation.
The willful citations alleged four safety violations that included the lack of body harnesses and lifelines for grain bin entry, the lack of an observer during entry operations, the absence of locking and tagging-out procedures for the under-bin conveyor system and failure to provide rescue equipment specific to this type of bin.
Willful violations are those committed with intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
United Farmers Cooperative receives, stores and ships grain commodities throughout the United States. The cooperative owns and operates 19 separate locations in Nebraska with approximately 240 employees, including 11 at the Tamora site. The United Farmers Cooperative has no previous history of OSHA violations.
The cooperative has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either comply with them, to request and to participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.