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Worker Fatality Leads to Fines for Alabama's Miller & Co. Inc.

July 10, 2020
The company failed to safeguard machinery which could have prevented one worker's death.

Alabama-based Miller & Co. Inc. is facing $218,192 in OSHA penalties for improper machine guarding following an employee fatality.

A piece of wood fatally struck a worker who was attempting to clear a jammed machine, which subsequently led to an investigation.

Jose Gonzalez, Mobile, Ala. area director, said in a statement, "Employers are required to identify safety hazards, implement safety measures and train workers on the proper use of safety equipment. Tragedies such as this can be prevented if employers comply with workplace standards, as required by law."

OSHA cited the employer for the following violations:

Citation 1: Serious - 29 CFR 1910.147 (c)(7)(i)

Item 1-  On or about Jan. 14, 2020 and at times prior hereto, the employer exposed workers to caught-in, struck-by and amputation hazards in that employees were allowed to perform servicing and maintenance on equipment without first being trained to ensure those employees had the knowledge and skills for safe application, usage and removal of energy controls. Proposed Penalty: $10, 390

Citation 2: Willful - 29 CFR 1910.147 (c)(4)(i)

Item 1 - On or about Jan. 14, 2020 and at times prior hereto, the employer exposed workers to caught-in, struck-by and amputation hazards in that the employer failed to ensure energy control procedures were utilized when employees were performing servicing and maintenance activities such as jam clearing. Proposed Penalty: $103,901

Item 2 - Willful - 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(1) On or about Jan. 14, 2020 and at times prior hereto, the employer exposed workers to caught-in, struck-by and amputation hazards in that the employer failed to ensure the points of operation were effectively guarded on the 2 1/4 in. Side Matcher. Proposed Penalty:  $103,901

This is not the first time Miller & Co. has had a relationship with the agency. The lumber and flooring manufacturer was previously directed to develop an alternative energy control procedure for equipment jams in 2018 following an amputation injury. OSHA states that the company failed to implement safeguarding procedures.

According to the company's website, Miller & Co. is one of the remaining family-owned and operated hardwood businesses in the United States. The company has two separate manufacturing locations in Selma, Ala. and Jackson, Tenn. It was founded in 1923.

Miller & Co. has 15 business days from July 7, 2020 to comply, request an informal conference or contest the violations in front of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

About the Author

Stefanie Valentic

Stefanie Valentic was formerly managing editor of EHS Today, and is currently editorial director of Waste360.

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