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OSHA News Release – Region 7
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 7 News Release: OSHA/04-778-KAN
Date: Friday May 14, 2004
Contact: Norma J. Conrad
$168,000 Penalty Proposed for Alleged Violations
TAMORA, Neb. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today issued citations to the United Farmers Cooperative for alleged willful safety violations in its grain bin operations, following the investigation of a fatal accident in November.
"Employers must provide workers with protection from workplace hazards to ensure that injury and illness rates continue to decline," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The significant penalty of $168,000 in this case demonstrates the Administration's commitment to protecting the health and safety of American workers."
OSHA began inspecting the Cooperative on Nov. 25, 2003, in response to a report from the Cooperative that an employee became engulfed in grain and died while performing a bin entry operation.
The willful citations alleged four safety violations that included the lack of body harnesses and lifelines for grain bin entry, the lack of an observer during entry operations, the absence of locking and tagging-out procedures for the under-bin conveyor system and failure to provide rescue equipment specific to this type of bin.
Willful violations are those committed with intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
United Farmers Cooperative receives, stores and ships grain commodities throughout the United States. The cooperative owns and operates 19 separate locations in Nebraska with approximately 240 employees, including 11 at the Tamora site. In business since 2001, United Farmers Cooperative has no previous history of OSHA violations.
The Cooperative has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either comply with them, to request and to participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
In fiscal year 2003, OSHA conducted almost 40,000 inspections, an increase of more than 2,000 inspections over FY 2002 levels; more than half focused on high-hazard industries. For more information, visit www.osha.gov. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is dedicated to saving lives, preventing injuries and illnesses and protecting the health and safety of America's workers
U.S. Labor Department releases are accessible on the Internet at <http://www.dol.gov>. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.
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