Fatal Crushing Accident Could Cost Alabama Company $43,000

On Jan. 4, an employee of a construction material recycling company was crushed when a conveyor fell on him. An OSHA investigation turns up 13 serious violations that contributed to his death.

Apparently, one Huntsville, Ala. company doesn''t have the word "crushing" in their name for nothing.

On Jan. 4, a crew employed by Southeastern Mobile Crushing Inc., a construction material recycling company, was setting up equipment at the Decatur, Ala., asphalt plant in preparation for a recycling operation. In connection with the set-up, a trackhoe machine and makeshift sling were used to raise a conveyor that was stuck in the transport position. While employees were under the machine trying to beat it loose, the chain sling broke. An employee was crushed by the falling conveyor.

Failure to protect workers from crushing accidents may cost the company $43,050, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

"A major cause of worker deaths is being struck by an object, and approximately 75 percent of these kinds of fatalities involve heavy equipment," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA''s Birmingham area director. "With proper training and procedures, this crushing accident could have been avoided."

Following an inspection of the fatality, OSHA cited Southeastern Mobile Crushing Inc. for 13 serious violations of safety standards. The citations, which drew a total of $43,050 in fines, include using unapproved pins to support the crusher, which can lead to crushing accidents; using front-end loaders to lift and transport personnel; lack of proper railing to prevent fall hazards; no head protection; no lockout-tagout program to render machinery inoperable during maintenance and repair; damaged lifting/rigging equipment which had not been properly certified or inspected; electrical hazards due to defective welding equipment; lack of machine guarding, and lack of a hazard communication program.

OSHA classifies serious violations as those where there is "a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard."

Southeastern Mobile Crushing Inc. has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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