Pit Charcoal Plant Cited For Violating Safety Standards Following Fatal Accident

July 2, 2003
An Arkansas employer's failure to safely elevate workers on a forklift and properly train operators in the use of forklifts allegedly caused the death of one employee and has resulted in a $156,500 penalty from OSHA's Little Rock area office.

Royal Oak Enterprises Inc. was cited with two alleged willful, five serious, one other-than-serious and one repeat violation following an OSHA inspection that began Dec. 16, 2002, following a fatality on Dec. 13 when an employee, elevated by a forklift, fell from and was subsequently crushed by the man basket he was in. The company, which employs about three workers at its Ozark, Ark. plant, manufactures pit charcoal. The corporation, headquartered in West Plains, Mo., employs about 600 workers nationwide.

"Far too many job-related fatalities are due to falls," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "This is the second case in Arkansas this year where a worker was killed because the basket he was working from fell off a forklift. By following OSHA standards, these tragic accidents may have been avoided."

The alleged willful violations were failure to secure the man basket to the forklift and transporting personnel in the elevated man basket. OSHA issues a willful citation for a violation committed with disregard of or plain indifference to the OSHA law and regulations.

The serious violations were for failure to ensure operators used seat belts when operating the forklift, not properly training forklift operators, improper storage of compressed gas cylinders and failure to develop and implement a proper hazard communication program. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a violation about which the employer know or should have known.

The other-than-serious violation was failing to properly identify attachments to the forklift. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

The repeat violation was for failing to provide guardrails on the man basket within specifications stated in OSHA regulations. OSHA issues a repeat citation for a violation that is the same or similar to one for which the employer was cited within the three years prior to the current inspection.

Royal Oak Enterprises Inc. has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Little Rock area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and health Review Commission.

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