US Department of Labor's OSHA cites DL Cattle Trading
in Parks, Neb., after worker suffocates in grain
PARKS, Neb. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited DL Cattle Trading LLC Co. for two willful, nine serious and one other-than-serious alleged safety violation at the company's cattle feed lot and farming operation in Parks. OSHA opened an inspection following the death of a worker who suffocated when engulfed in grain that he was walking on in a bin that had a running auger.
"OSHA has found that deaths in grain bins and elevators generally occur because of employer negligence, failure to comply with OSHA standards or poor safety and health practices," said Charles E. Adkins, the agency's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "All employers, especially those in high-hazard sectors such as the grain industry, must take the necessary steps to eliminate hazards from the workplace."
The willful violations were cited for exposing employees to confined space hazards without having emergency rescue or medical care immediately available, as well as for allowing workers to stand on flowing grain without isolating power to the auger. 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.
The serious violations address electrical hazards as well as those associated with a lack of fall protection, compressed gas cylinder storage, machine and power transmission guarding, confined spaces and lockout/tagout of energy sources. 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.
The other-than-serious violation was cited for not reporting the fatality within eight hours. The worker died on March 1, but the company did not report the death until March 14. 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.
As a result of the investigation, DL Cattle Trading has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Initiated in June 2010, SVEP is intended to focus on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations in one or more of the following circumstances: a fatality or catastrophe, industry operations or processes that expose workers to severe occupational hazards, employee exposure to hazards related to the potential releases of highly hazardous chemicals and all per-instance citation (egregious) enforcement actions. For more information on SVEP, visit http://www.osha.gov/dep/svep-directive.pdf.*
Since 2009, OSHA has fined grain operators in Nebraska, Illinois, Colorado, South Dakota and Wisconsin following similar preventable fatalities and injuries. In addition to enforcement actions, OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels sent a notification letter to grain elevator operators in the summer of 2010 warning them not to allow workers to enter grain storage facilities without proper equipment, precautions and training. "OSHA will not tolerate noncompliance with the Grain Handling Facilities standard," said Michaels in the letter. "We will continue to use our enforcement authority to the fullest extent possible."
For a copy of the letter, visit http://www.osha.gov/asst-sec/Grain_letter.html.
The DL Cattle Trading citations are available at, http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/DLCattle_314059384_0831_11.pdf.*
Proposed penalties in this case total $185,600. DL Cattle Trading has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Omaha, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's Omaha Area Office at 402-553-0174. To report workplace incidents, fatalities, or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
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 materials.