Ripley, WV (WorkersCompensation.com) - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Best Logging, a company based in Ripley, for 14 alleged serious and four other-than-serious violations – including tree felling hazards – found at a Rock Castle, W.Va., work site. OSHA's February inspection was initiated following the fatality of a worker, who was struck by a tree during logging operations.
The serious violations were due to the company's failure to ensure employees wore leg protection, heavy duty cut-resistant boots, and head, eye and face protection while operating a chain saw and performing logging operations; ensure employees were within visual or audible contact with each other at all times; provide first aid kits with all required items on each piece of equipment or at the cutting area; train employees in first aid/CPR; provide training to employees involved in logging operations; consider the location of surrounding trees prior to felling a tree; properly fell and remove a danger tree; fell trees with a sufficient hinge; and maintain fire extinguishers on each machine. A serious violation occurs 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.
The other-than-serious violations include failing to develop and implement a written Hazard Communication Program, maintain Material Safety Data Sheets, identify container of diesel fuel with labeling, and provide employees with training on hazardous materials in the work area. An other-than-serious citation is issued when a violation has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
"By many measures, logging is the most dangerous occupation in the United States and is considered a high-hazard industry by OSHA. In West Virginia alone, there have already been five fatalities this year, all involving improper felling of trees," said Prentice Cline, director of OSHA's Area Office in Charleston. "Employers, such as Best Logging, that put employees' lives in danger by not complying with federal logging safety laws will continue to be held legally responsible."
Best Logging faces $39,000 in proposed penalties. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Charleston area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.