On March 12, 2018, Joshua Hill went to work at a sawmill in St. Joseph, Mo. and never returned home.
The 38-year-old American Walnut Co. employee came into contact with operating equipment, causing fatal injuries. OSHA immediately opened an investigation.
“Employers must continually evaluate job hazards and ensure safety guards are in use to protect workers from known hazards in their facilities,” said OSHA Kansas City Area Office Director Karena Lorek in a statement. “Employers and workers with questions on OSHA standards can contact OSHA for guidance on creating an effective safety and health program.”
The agency discovered 14 serious and two repeat safety violations, stating the company failed to evaluate job hazards, control hazardous energy, and ensure machines were equipped with adequate guards. The company also exposed workers to hazards associated with falls, ladders and electrical safety.
In total, OSHA fined American Walnut a proposed $199,183. A subsequent investigation regarding observed noise hazards found the company exposed workers to hazards associated with combustible dust, noise and the use of chemicals in the facility.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.