MO Manufacturer Fined after Fatality

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 @ 05:03 PM gHale

A 58-year-old maintenance worker died after he ended up pinned between a scrap metal table and a railing at Hussmann Corp.’s Bridgeton, MO, facility, according to an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA said the company failed to prevent the table from lowering unintentionally. As a result, Hussmann received three willful and 12 serious safety violations after the Sept. 6 incident and is now facing fines of $272,250. OSHA also placed the company on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

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“This tragic loss could have been prevented,” said Bill McDonald, OSHA’s area director in St. Louis. “OSHA inspectors found workers at risk of life-threatening hazards because Hussmann Corp. failed to train its workforce to prevent unintentional operation of dangerous machinery. This company needs to fix safety procedure deficiencies, so no other family is forced to suffer.”

Hussmann Corp. employs about 5,000 workers worldwide and 580 at its headquarters in Bridgeton. The company’s products include refrigerated and nonrefrigerated display merchandisers, specialty display cases, self-contained display cases, LED lighting, glass doors and lids, refrigeration systems and other related products.

OSHA cited Hussmann for three willful violations for not placing devices on machinery to prevent the sudden startup or movement of equipment during service and maintenance, a procedure known as lockout/tagout. The company also failed to correct numerous problems related to its lockout/tagout procedures, such as using electronic gate switches as a substitute for an energy-isolating device.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Hussmann also failed to train workers on safety procedures and lacked effective safeguards for moving parts on machinery. Inspectors identified unsafe practices related to powered industrial trucks, including allowing employees to work under a load held aloft by the vehicle, exposing them to crushed-by hazards. OSHA also discovered electrical safety hazards involving cabinets not closed properly to prevent contact with energized wires and using damaged electrical cables. In total, OSHA cited the company for 12 serious violations.

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.

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