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Temporary Worker Killed at Bacardi Bottling, OSHA Says Company Failed to Train

Feb. 11, 2013
OSHA has cited Bacardi Bottling in Jacksonville, Fla., with willful and serious violations following the death of a temporary worker during his first day at work. Proposed penalties for the violations total $192,000.

Bacardi’s Web site invites visitors to “Enter the Party,” but working at the Bacardi Bottling Corp. facility in Jacksonville, Fla., where the company bottles all of the rum it distributes to North America, led to a tragic end for the short life of Lawrence Daquan “Day” Davis.

Davis, a 20-year-old temporary worker, was killed last August on his first day on the job when he was crushed by a palletizer machine. OSHA cited Bacardi Bottling with 12 alleged OSHA violations.

Davis was an employee of a temporary staffing service, Remedy Intelligent Staffing, which is contracted by Bacardi Bottling to provide workers for certain jobs. OSHA requires that employers protect the health and safety of all workers under their supervision and control, even temporary workers who are employed by other companies.

“A worker’s first day at work shouldn’t be his last day on earth,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Employers are responsible for ensuring the safe conditions of all their employees, including those who are temporary.”

Bacardi sent a statement to EHS Today that says, in part, "As a family-owned company with a long history of operating as an industry leader in workplace safety, Bacardi takes seriously any accident and continues to extend its sincerest condolences to the family. Always looking to improve in safety measures and operational performance, Bacardi conducted additional employee re-training on lockout/tagout procedures, updated safety policies and procedures, and completed a thorough review of all equipment in order to prevent such an accident from happening again."

Davis was cleaning glass from under the hoist of a palletizing machine when an employee restarted the palletizer. Bacardi Bottling had failed to train temporary employees on utilizing locks and tags to prevent the accidental start-up of machines and to ensure its own employees utilized procedures to lock or tag out machines. Proposed penalties for the willful and serious violations total $192,000.

Bacardi said that it worked with OSHA following the incident and "took immediate steps to correct any noted safety concerns identified by the inspector, rather than waiting until after the final report was issued ... The company shares with OSHA the common goals of well-trained employees and safe workplace conditions."

Two alleged willful citations have been issued for failing to develop, document and utilize lockout/tagout procedures for the control of potentially hazardous energy and train temporary workers on lockout/tagout procedures. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

“We are seeing untrained workers – many of them temporary workers – killed very soon after starting a new job. This must stop,” said Michaels. “Employers must train all employees, including temporary workers, on the hazards specific to that workplace – before they start working. Had Bacardi done so, this tragic loss of life could have been prevented.”

OSHA also cited Bacardi for nine alleged serious violations for exposing workers to trips, struck-by and fire hazards where fixed permanent conveyors crossed through the aisle; obstructing exit routes; exposing workers to falling bottles and debris from overhead conveyors and electrical shock hazards. The employer also failed to provide an adequate number of lockout/tagout devices to perform lockout/tagout procedures of energy sources on various equipment, conduct an adequate periodic review of the energy control procedures, perform servicing and maintenance on machines and equipment without training in the methods and means for energy isolation, and require workers to wear safety goggles and long sleeves when using air guns at 90 pounds per square inch. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

One alleged other-than-serious violation has been cited for storing a mixing tank within 12 inches of the electrical panel box. 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.

"Bacardi, in its more than 150-year history, has embedded corporate responsibility into all aspects of its business, and with that, continually strives for the highest standards of safety for its employees," the company noted.

Bacardi Bottling has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

(Tom Andel, editor-in-chief of Material Handling & Logistics, offers his insight on this incident in his blog post, "Industry Owes Respect to Rube Goldberg.")

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