Overloaded Bins Cause of Fatal Collapse

Friday, July 25, 2014 @ 09:07 AM gHale

The cause of the Jan. 20 structural collapse at International Nutrition Inc.’s Omaha, NE, facility that left two workers dead was the overloading of nine storage bins on the building’s roof, an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found.

In addition to the two deaths, the collapse at the livestock feed supplement manufacturer caused injuries to nine workers.

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As a result, OSHA issued citations for the company for one willful, one repeat and 11 additional safety violations for failing to protect workers from hazards associated with structural collapse.

The investigation determined a structural failure of the east side truss, after bins that it supported ended up loaded with an excess of limestone. The extra weight caused the bins to collapse three floors into the center of the facility in about 30 seconds.

One of the dead workers was a 53-year-old man, who had been with the company just over a year, who was cleaning on the second floor. The other victim was a 47-year-old worker, who worked at the facility for 10 years and was conducting maintenance when the bins collapsed.

Four workers ended up trapped in the rubble of the building after the collapse and then rescued by the Omaha Fire Department’s ladder truck rescue team. Rescue workers sent the four trapped victims and five others to the hospital with injuries.

“International Nutrition’s decision to overload these bins directly led to the deaths of these two workers and the injuries sustained by nine other employees,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Families lost loved ones because International Nutrition did not follow the basic safety procedures that would have prevented this senseless loss of life.”

The company manufactures a feed supplement using multiple dry ingredients, rice hulls, solulac and limestone, which were the ingredients stored in the nine bins on the roof of the structure.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $120,560 and placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program after its investigation into the collapse.

“Omaha Fire and Rescue prevented further injury and Urban Search and Rescue performed some of the most hazardous work by entering the building to recover the two victims,” said Bonita Winingham, OSHA area director in Omaha.

The company’s failure to protect workers from hazards associated with overloading the bin structures on the roof and its subsequent collapse resulted in one willful safety citation. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

A repeat violation was for failing to protect workers from hazards associated with using compressed air at greater than the recommended 30 pounds per square inch. The company faced previous citations for this violation in 2011.

Nine serious violations were for combustible dust hazards including failure to provide proper dust ventilation and failure to follow respiratory protection standards. The company also received citations for failing to train workers on confined space requirements, hazard communication and proper operation of powered industrial vehicles. Other violations included lack of specific lockout/tag out procedures to protect workers operating dangerous machinery and failing to de-energize potential ignition sources when using compressed air for cleaning.

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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