Fertilizer Maker Faces Safety Fines

Thursday, May 15, 2014 @ 06:05 PM gHale


American Plant Food Corp. is facing $181,000 in fines for 12 violations after a worker’s leg ended up caught in an auger at its Bartlett, TX, facility in November, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“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.”

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OSHA’s Austin Area Office found the company did not provide adequate training for workers entering confined spaces and encountering industrial machinery that could unexpectedly startup. Willful violations were 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 received 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 88 workers at 11 Texas fertilizer-blending facilities. Two of the workers exposed at the Bartlett plant were temporary hired 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 the company received citations related to the control of hazardous energy.



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