This TIB is not a new standard or regulation and it creates no new legal obligations. It is advisory in nature, informational in content, and is intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.
OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support (DTS) issues Technical Information Bulletins (TIBs) to provide information about occupational hazards and /or to provide information about noteworthy, innovative, or specialized procedures, practices and research that relate to occupational safety and health. DTS selects topics for TIBs from recognized scientific, industrial hygiene, labor, industry, engineering, and/or medical sources.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to comply with hazard-specific safety and health standards. In addition, employers must provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm under Section 5(a)(1), the General Duty Clause of the Act. Employers can be cited for violating the General Duty Clause if there is a recognized hazard and they do not take appropriate steps to prevent or abate the hazard. However, the failure to implement TIB recommendations is not, in itself, a violation of the General Duty Clause. Citations can only be based on standards, regulations, and the General Duty Clause.
Further information about this bulletin may be obtained by contacting OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management (formerly Directorate of Technical Support) at 202-693-2300.
The purpose of this Technical Information Bulletin is to provide employers and employees who operate, service, and maintain high speed separators with information about the potential for ejection of machine parts during operation, if not properly assembled, operated, inspected and maintained.
The Wichita Area Office brought to the attention of the Directorate of Technical Support a fatality investigation conducted in the rendering department of a beef processing facility. In the accident, the rendering operator sustained fatal injuries and another employee suffered non-fatal injuries when they were struck by flying parts ejected from a high speed separator.
The high speed separator (see Figure 1), located in the rendering department of a beef processing plant, was used to separate water, solids, and tallow. Purified tallow was the desired end product. The separator had not been running properly on the day before the accident. The operators and maintenance employees disassembled and reassembled the machine two or three times in an effort to get the machine to properly "run product." (Disassembly of the machine requires removal of the frame hood, coupling ring, and bowl assembly. When the machine is reassembled, the bowl assembly is held together by the coupling ring, which threads into the separator bowl body. The coupling ring and all the bowl assembly parts have alignment marks to ensure that the parts are correctly placed. According to the manufacturer's instructions, in the event of excessive thread wear, which is indicated when the coupling ring is tightened and the alignment mark on the coupling ring exceeds the alignment mark on the bowl bottom by 25 degrees or more, the manufacturer should be contacted immediately because this situation indicates excessive wear of the bowl threads, a condition that is dangerous to users and may damage the equipment. The manufacturer's instructions also warn that the user should check for thread wear periodically, since thread wear is not always related to a rough running bowl.)
On the day of the accident, the operator had just reassembled the machine. After various parts were replaced (it is not known whether the alignment mark on the coupling ring was properly aligned with the mark on the bowl bottom), the separator was started and was running for approximately 5-6 minutes when the frame hood and the parts from the bowl assembly were ejected from the machine, striking the operator and a maintenance employee. The operator, who apparently was adjusting the feed rate, was struck in the head and upper chest and was fatally injured. It is believed that the separator was at or near its full operational speed of 4,500 rpm at the time of the accident. According to the maintenance employee, just prior to the ejection the separator appeared to be running smoothly, with no visual or tactile indication of vibration; the maintenance employee did not detect any vibration when he placed his hand on the machine.
High speed separators, if not properly assembled, operated, and maintained, may forcefully eject separator parts, exposing employees in the area to hazards associated with flying objects.
OSHA makes the following recommendations to employers and/or workplace users of high speed separators:
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