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Region 5 News Release: 14-783-CHI
May 20, 2014
Contact: Scott Allen      Rhonda Burke
Phone:       312-353-6976

Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co. cited by US Department of Labor's OSHA after
worker fatally struck by forklift at Detroit marine terminal

DETROIT – Following the death of a worker who was hit by a forklift , the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co. with nine-including two willful and seven serious-safety violations. The incident occurred Nov. 19, 2013, at the Detroit marine terminal when the worker was struck by a 62,000-pound-capacity forklift carrying a 40,000-pound steel coil. The company has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

"Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co. has a responsibility to train its workers in the safe operation of dangerous equipment, and a worker tragically lost his life because this company failed to live up to that responsibility," said Larry Johnson, OSHA's area director in Lansing. "A worker's life should never be the cost of doing business."

A willful citation was issued for modifying a forklift without obtaining manufacturer approval. A second willful citation was issued for failing to establish vehicle routes, traffic rules and to post signs indicating pedestrian traffic where employees work. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Seven serious safety violations were cited. Five of those involve forklift safety, including failing to train employees on operating instructions, warnings and precautions listed in the operator's manual; maintain vehicles in safe working order; and direct employees to sound the horn when visibility was obstructed. Other citations involved failing to conduct monthly crane inspections and test cargo gear for load capacity.

An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $168,700. To view the current citations, visit*

Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co. employs about 75 workers and has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and 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.

Being struck-by vehicles and other objects is a leading cause of workplace deaths. Approximately 75 percent of struck-by fatalities involve heavy equipment. Causes of struck-by accidents typically involve reverse vehicle movement into a pedestrian outside the driver's field of vision, or vehicles falling off ramps, inclines or unstable ground. Accident prevention strategies include ensuring back-up alarms are functional, check the periphery of vehicle before operating, stay alert, obey all traffic rules and signs, minimize distractions, inspect and maintain vehicles, use safety belts and turn on headlights.

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 Lansing office at 517-487-4996.

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

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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).

* Accessibility Assistance Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

OSHA News Release - Table of Contents

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