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Region 7 News Release: 09-1489-KAN
Dec. 15, 2009
Contact: Rich Kulczewski   Jeremy Eggers
Phone: 303-844-1302   303-844-1299


US Department of Labor's OSHA fines Farmers Union Coop Supply Co.
of Stanton, Neb., following worker's death

OMAHA, Neb. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Farmers Union Coop Supply Co. of Stanton, Neb., with one alleged willful and nine alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act after a worker suffocated from lack of oxygen in the boot pit of a concrete grain elevator June 19.

"Farmers Union Coop Supply Co. willfully allowed its employees to work in a dangerous environment," said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "This tragedy could have been prevented by evaluating permit-required confined space conditions prior to entry."

The willful citation is proposed for hazards associated with permit-required confined spaces. Specifically, the employer did not evaluate permit-required confined space conditions by testing the atmospheric conditions in the boot pit for oxygen and carbon dioxide levels prior to entry. OSHA issues a willful violation when an employer exhibits plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The serious citations are proposed for the company's failure to adequately address hazards associated with walking and working surfaces, permit-required confined spaces, grain handling facilities and wiring methods. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which an employer knew or should have known.

The proposed fines total $120,700.

Farmers Union Coop Supply Co. buys and sells grain and employs approximately 33 workers at three sites in Nebraska.

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.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department 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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