OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
Region 4 News Release
Release Number: 05-1014-ATL (124)
Date: Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Contact: John Deifer Jo Anne Burgoyne
Phone: (912) 652-4393 562-2076
Agency Proposes Over $40,000 in Penalties for Exposing Workers to Safety Hazards
SAVANNAH, Ga. -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Bio-Plus Inc. and proposed penalties totaling $40,850, following the investigation of a Dec. 4, 2004, fatal accident at the company's Ashburn facility.
"This tragic accident could have been prevented if OSHA-required safety procedures had been in place to protect employees working in confined spaces," said John Deifer, OSHA's Savannah area director.
Bio-Plus processes peanut shells into pellets. According to OSHA records, a fire occurred at the plant the day before the fatal accident. On Dec. 4, two employees reportedly were assigned to climb through an opening at the top of a bin and down a ladder attached to the inside wall without emergency rescue equipment or body harnesses with retractable lifelines.
The laborers' task was to shovel and prod the top layer of burnt peanut hulls toward the center and then to a grate at the bottom of the bin. While performing this job, the agency concluded, a portion of the crusted surface broke loose engulfing one worker. The other worker was able to grab the ladder and escape.
OSHA issued 19 serious citations to the company, with proposed penalties totaling $38,350, for failing to develop and implement a confined space program with procedures for: evaluating and reducing safety hazards before entry; training employees; emergency rescue; and identifying areas requiring prior authorization before entering. The company also allegedly failed to protect workers from fire, electrical, amputation and fall hazards and lacked a hazard communication program.
Bio-Plus received three additional citations, with total proposed penalties of $2,500, for failing to report the fatality within eight hours, develop a respiratory protection program and replace defective equipment.
The company has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Savannah area office located at 450 Mall Boulevard, Suite J; phone: (912) 652-4393.
Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships, and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Labor Department (DOL) 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. Call (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. DOL 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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