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Region 6 News Release: OSHA-02-183
Wed., Nov. 20, 2002
Contact: Diana Petterson or Elizabeth Todd
Phone: (214) 767-4776, Ext. 222 or 221
OSHA Proposes $93,100 in fines After Worker Fatality
WAVERLY, La. -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Farmers Grain Terminal Inc. for the alleged willful violation of a safety standard that could have prevented the suffocation of an employee who was trapped in a grain storage facility in Waverly, La. OSHA is proposing $93,100 in penalties against the company, whose corporate office is in Greenville, Miss.
OSHA began its investigation following the May 18 accident that took place when an employee entered a corn storage bin to increase the flow of grain being moved by an auger conveyor located beneath the bin. The worker became trapped in seven feet of grain.
"These citations are being issued because the employer did not require workers to follow basic precautions when entering grain storage bins," said John Deifer, area director of the agency's Baton Rouge office. "Because the employer willfully failed to follow its obligations under the law to keep its employees safe, this needless tragedy occurred."
Farmers Grain was cited with one alleged willful violation for failure to require utilization of a full body harness and lanyard when employees enter bins at grain level and when an employee stands on the grain. Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and its regulations.
OSHA issued nine citations for alleged serious violations. These address the company's failure to issue a permit for entering the bin; failure to lock out power to equipment; failure to train workers for specific procedures and tasks; failure to prevent the practice of "walking down grain" or similar practices; not training employees to act as observers for bin entry; and not providing an observer and rescue equipment when employees enter bins, silos or tanks.
A serious violation is cited when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Farmers Grain Terminal Inc. has 15 working days from the receipt of the citations to request an informal conference with the Baton Rouge OSHA area director, or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review commission.
Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call the Baton Rouge area OSHA office at (225) 298-5458. OSHA's toll-free hotline may be used to report workplace accidents, fatalities, or situations posing imminent danger to workers. The number is 1-800-321-6742.
U.S. Labor Department news releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov.
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