Region 8 News Release: 11-1332-SEA (11-202)
Sept. 12, 2011
Contact: Michael Shimizu
US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Wagner's of Flagler, Colo.,
for unsafe working conditions at grain handling facility
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Wagner's LLC in Flagler for one repeat, 13 serious and two other-than-serious safety violations for exposing workers to a variety of grain hazards during bulk birdseed handling and packaging operations. This investigation was initiated under a regional emphasis program focused on the grain handling industry. Proposed penalties total $62,100.
"Too many workers and their families have suffered tragic losses in the grain industry," said John Healy, OSHA's area director in Englewood. "Grain handling hazards are preventable, and are currently the focus of local and national enforcement efforts."
The repeat violation was cited for improper electrical wiring. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. A similar electrical violation was cited in January 2010.
The serious violations involve employees exposed to fall hazards, improper controls for combustible grain dust, inadequate procedures for entering confined spaces, a lack of proper machine guarding and electrical hazards. 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 violations involve inadequate personal protective equipment and failing to provide an adequate lockout/tagout program for the energy sources of equipment. 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.
Since 2009, OSHA has issued fines exceeding $100,000 per employer to grain operators across the country following preventable fatalities and injuries. In addition to enforcement actions, OSHA 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, including 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. "OSHA will not tolerate noncompliance with the Grain Handling Facilities standard," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels in both letters. "We will continue to use our enforcement authority to the fullest extent possible." The February letter is available at http://www.osha.gov/asst-sec/Grain-Letter-2-1-2011.html.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Englewood Area Office; telephone 303-843-4500. 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.