US Labor Department's OSHA cites Corpus Christi, Texas-based
grain elevator operator following bin entrapment
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Corpus Christi Grain Co. in Corpus Christi for six willful and 20 serious violations with total proposed penalties of $258,900. OSHA's Corpus Christi Area Office initiated its inspection at the company's facility on Talbert Lane after it was reported that a worker was engulfed while emptying grain from a storage bin. The employee was rescued due to the exceptional efforts of the Corpus Christi Fire Department.
"Employees working in grain storage buildings are exposed to dangerous conditions, and proper safety measures must be taken," said Michael Rivera, director of OSHA's Corpus Christi office. "If OSHA's standards were followed, it is possible this unfortunate incident could have been avoided."
The willful violations include failing to provide personal protective equipment, such as a body harness and life line, for employees working with stored grain; perform lockout/tagout procedures for the energy sources of equipment, such as augers and conveyors, while workers are inside the grain bins; and have a competent attendant present with rescue equipment when workers enter grain storage bins. A willful violation is one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for OSHA's requirements or employee safety and health.
The serious violations include failing to ensure that employees are trained on the hazards associated with grain handling, cover openings with grates in grain bins, ensure that workroom floors are clear of combustible dust and provide a preventive maintenance schedule for machinery. 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 addition to the agency's enforcement actions to promote grain bin safety, OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels sent a notification letter in August 2010 and another in February 2011 to a total of more than 13,000 grain elevator operators warning them of proper safety precautions. These include prohibiting entry in grain storage facilities while grain is being emptied out or flowing in or out of the bin, prohibiting employees from "walking down the grain" and ensuring that employees enter the bin with the proper safety equipment. The February letter is available at http://www.osha.gov/asst-sec/Grain-Letter-2-1-2011.html.
Corpus Christi Grain, which employs about 25 workers, has 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Corpus Christi, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/CorpusChristiGrain_315367599_10192011.pdf*.
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 Corpus Christi office at 361-888-3420.
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.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.
* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF documents.