Fatality Leads to OSHA Probe, Fine

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 @ 12:05 PM gHale

Adams Thermal Systems Inc. of Canton, SD, is facing $210,000 in fines for three willful safety violations that exposed workers to unsafe conditions at the engine cooling systems manufacturing facility, said Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials.

OSHA’s inspection initiated after an employee died in a chrushing incident while operating equipment Nov. 7.

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“Despite having full awareness of the hazardous conditions and potential for employees to be injured by machinery used in the workplace, the employer failed to take suitable action to ensure employee safety,” said Tom Deutscher, OSHA’s area director in Bismarck, N.D.

The violations are failing to develop energy control procedures, provide machine guarding and effectively train employees on recognizing hazardous energy and taking safety precautions. 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.

Due to the willful nature of the violations, OSHA placed Adams Thermal Systems, which employs 720 workers, in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.

The facility underwent four previous inspections by OSHA. In 2004, an employee lost four fingers in a machine guarding-related incident and OSHA cited the employer with a willful violation for failing to provide adequate guarding. In 2011, an investigation initiated after an employee had several fingers crushed while operating a press, and OSHA cited a serious violation for failing to provide adequate protection.

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