US Labor Department's OSHA cites C.O. Grain in Nebraska for exposing
workers to safety hazards during grain bin entry; proposed fines total $132,000
OMAHA, Neb. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited C.O. Grain Inc., a grain storage facility in Atkinson, with 16 safety violations for exposing workers to a variety of hazards during grain bin entry. OSHA initiated its inspection under a local emphasis program targeting grain handling establishments. Proposed penalties total $132,000.
"Hazards associated with grain handling are well-recognized within the grain industry and must be addressed," said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "C.O. Grain failed to provide its employees with a safe and healthful environment."
Three willful violations, with $84,000 in penalties, address hazards associated with a failure to lock out the energy sources of mechanical equipment during bin entry; a failure to test air quality prior to bin entry; and a lack of rescue equipment for employees making bin entries. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowledge or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
Twelve serious violations, with $48,000 in penalties, involve additional hazards associated with bin entry, fixed ladder use and design, the use of respiratory protection, unguarded pulleys and belts, and hazard communications. 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.
One other-than-serious violation with no monetary penalty involves the company's failure to maintain certification records on maintenance inspections. 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.
Local emphasis programs are enforcement strategies designed and implemented at the regional office and/or area office levels. These programs are intended to address hazards or industries that pose a particular risk to workers in the office's jurisdiction, and they are accompanied by outreach to area employers. OSHA's grain bin local emphasis program addresses specific recognized hazards in grain handling such as falls, electrocution, engulfment, auger entanglement, "struck by" dangers and combustible dust explosions.
OSHA has fined grain operators in Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, South Dakota, Ohio and Nebraska following preventable fatalities and injuries. In addition to OSHA's enforcement actions and training, Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels sent a notification letter in August 2010 and another in February 2011 to grain elevator operators warning them of proper safety precautions. For a copy of the letter, visit http://www.osha.gov/asst-sec/Grain-Letter-2-1-2011.html.
The C.O. Grain Inc. citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/COGrain_314060989_1128_11.pdf*.
The company 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.
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 Omaha Area Office at 402-553-0717.
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.