Jan. 6, 2015
Temporary worker suffers permanent disability
after packaging machine crushes him
OSHA cites plastic bottle manufacturer for serious and willful safety violations
HIGH SPRINGS, Fla. – A 50-year-old temporary worker was permanently disabled after a machine used to package cases of bottled water onto a pallet for shipment started up while he cleared a jam in the machine. The worker had been on the job for 12 days at the Ice River Springs plant in High Springs.
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration in July 2014 found that the employer allowed workers to enter the palletizer's safety cage area and bypass two photo-eye safety sensors that served as machine safeguards. When the employee freed the pallet from its jammed position, he unknowingly activated the palletizer elevator's photo-eye sensor and became entrapped between the elevator and the palletizer conveyor. OSHA cited the water-bottle manufacturer for three safety violations. Proposed penalties total $84,000.
TempForce of Gainesville, a franchised affiliate of Randstad, provided Ice River Springs with temporary workers, while Ice River Springs provided daily supervision, training and direction for the temporary workers employed at the facility. OSHA concluded an inspection with TempForce and did not issue citations to the staffing agency.
"OSHA has received far too many reports of temporary workers injured or killed on the job, with some of these incidents occurring in the employee's first few days at work," said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville. "It is critical that Ice River Springs and TempForce understand OSHA's newest initiatives to protect temporary workers, which must include shared responsibility by the host employer and the temporary staffing agency. These initiatives include taking effective steps to ensure that each temporary worker is sufficiently trained and monitored to safeguard them from the hazards of their new work environment."
OSHA issued a willful citation to Ice River Springs for failure to ensure workers were protected from moving machine parts during service or maintenance. The 41 full-time and temporary employees who work onsite were exposed to serious injury or death due to this violation. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
Two serious violations were cited for failure to conduct an annual inspection of lockout/tagout procedures and for not training workers to recognize hazardous machinery or implement proper maintenance controls. 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.
In April 2013, OSHA announced an initiative to improve workplace safety and health for temporary workers, who are at increased risk of work-related injury and illness. The initiative includes outreach, training and enforcement to ensure that temporary workers are protected on the job. OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have also issued a "Recommended Practices"* publication that focuses on ensuring temporary workers receive the same training and protection as permanent employees.
Ice River Springs operates 11 facilities in North America. The company manufactures plastic bottles that are filled with water from a neighboring spring and packaged for grocery operators with the company's label.
Ice River Springs has 15 business days from receipt of its 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.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Jacksonville Area Office at 904-232-2895.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
Release Number: 14-2255-ATL-(04)
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