Tanner Timber Services cited by US Department of Labor's OSHA for serious
and willful violations of safety law following worker fatality
HOUSTON, Texas – Tanner Timber Services LLC was cited with five violations, including one willful, by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to protect workers from hazardous, unguarded machines. An employee was struck and killed by a piece of lumber in excess of 800 pounds that kicked out of a machine at the company's Kountze facility.
"It is the employer's responsibility to rectify hazards that expose workers to injuries and to not wait until loss of life occurs," said David Doucet, OSHA's area director in the Houston North Area Office.
The sawmill employer was cited for one willful violation, with a penalty of $70,000, for failing to provide an approved method to prevent lumber from kicking back and striking a worker. 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.
Four serious violations were cited, with a penalty of $21,300, for failure to implement lockout/tagout procedures to protect workers who service or maintain machines; to install a guardrail on sawmill work platforms; to guard chains, sprockets, belts and pulleys properly; and to cover unused electrical panel openings. 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.
Due to the willful violation in relation to the fatality, Tanner Timber Services has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program*, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.
The proposed penalties total $91,300. The company 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 & 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 Houston North Area Office at 281-520-6171 or Houston South Area Office at 281-286-0583.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).
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