OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
Region 2 News Release: NY 115
February 15, 2000
Contact: Chester J. Fultz
ALLEGED WILLFUL SAFETY VIOLATION AFTER WORKER IS PARALYZED IN FALL;
$137,500 IN PENALTIES PROPOSED
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Agway Inc., located at Northeastern Industrial Park, Guilderland Center, New York, and proposed penalties of $137,500 against the firm for one alleged willful violation, two alleged repeat violations, one alleged failure-to-abate, and one alleged other-than-serious violation of OSHA standards. The company has until March 8 to contest the citations.
According to OSHA area director John Tomich, the action results from an investigation begun by OSHA on August 16, 1999, following an accident at the Agway feed mill, in which an employee was permanently paralyzed in a fall. The employee, who had been standing on a conveyor, attempting to replace a broken conveyor belt, when he fell nine feet to the concrete floor below and landed on a steel strip bolted to the floor.
"What we find especially significant," said Tomich,"is that, shortly after the employee was taken to the hospital, two other employees were directed to continue the work-under the exact same hazardous conditions. Clearly there was a hazardous condition, but the employer was indifferent to the consequences."
OSHA alleges that the company willfully violated OSHA's fall protection standard by failing to provide a guarded work platform or other form of fall protection. The willful violation carries a proposed penalty of $70,000. A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard for, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSHA act and regulations.
OSHA also charged the firm with two alleged repeat violations, with a total proposed penalty of $37,500, for not following required group lockout-tagout procedures when performing maintenance on the conveyor to prevent accidental startup while the equipment is being serviced. A repeat violation is one for which an employer has been previously cited for the same or a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Agway was previously cited for this condition in April, 1999.
The firm also received a failure to abate notice-defined as an additional penalty issued against an employer who has failed to correct a violation which has become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission-for failing to implement preventive maintenance procedures in the facility. The alleged failure-to-abate has a proposed penalty of $30,000.
Agway was also charged with an alleged other-than-serious violation for having inadequate standard railings on work platforms. An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.
The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Albany area office, located at 401 New Karner Road, Suite 300, Albany, New York, telephone (518) 464-6742.
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