Texas Fertilizer Operator Cited Following Serious Injury
Austin, TX (WorkersCompensation.com) - After a worker's leg was entangled in an auger in November 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the safety and health practices of American Plant Food Corp.'s Bartlett facility. OSHA issued citations for 12 violations and proposed a penalty of $181,000 for exposing employees to workplace hazards by failing to implement proper energy control procedures that protect workers who service or maintain machines.
"This worker's debilitating injury was preventable had the employer used certain safeguards," said Casey Perkins, OSHA's area director in Austin. "As an established company in this industry with long-term management in place, American Plant Food Corp. should not allow such dangerous workplace practices."
OSHA's Austin Area Office found that the company did not provide adequate training for workers entering confined spaces and encountering industrial machinery that could unexpectedly startup. Willful violations were cited for failing to ensure adequate safeguards were in place to prevent workers from coming into contact with the auger during servicing and maintenance. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
The company was cited for nine serious safety violations, including failure to properly guard machines, electrical equipment and floor openings, such as pits and edges, implement lockout procedures for hazardous energy control and provide access to first aid medical treatment. 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 Houston-based company employs about 88 workers at 11 Texas fertilizer-blending facilities. Two of the workers exposed at the Bartlett plant had been hired as temporary workers through Magnum Staffing in 2011. The company has a history of OSHA inspections, including two fatality investigations in December 1991 and June 1997 and an inspection of a Fort Worth facility in 2000 where citations were issued related to the control of hazardous energy.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Austin Area Office, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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