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July 01, 2024
Contractor cited for farmworker's fatal heat illness

Guerero Ag LLC, an Arcadia, Florida-based labor contractor, faces a $30,651 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fine after a 41-year-old worker collapsed while harvesting oranges and died 3 days later in intensive care, the agency announced June 26.

OSHA investigators learned that the worker had difficulty talking and appeared disoriented before becoming unresponsive and collapsing—symptoms consistent with heatstroke. According to OSHA, the heat index reached approximately 92 degrees on the day of the incident.

The agency cited Guerrero Ag with two serious violations for exposing workers to hazards associated with high ambient heat on 3 separate days and not providing first-aid training to employees working in an area without an infirmary, a clinic, or a hospital. The agency also cited the labor contractor for failing to report a work-related hospitalization within 24 hours and failing to report a fatality within 8 hours.

OSHA cites employers for heat hazards, often after hospitalizations or fatalities, using its authority under the General Duty Clause (§5(a)(1)) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, as there’s no federal heat illness prevention standard. The agency has drafted a proposed standard for heat illness prevention in outdoor and indoor work settings, which is undergoing regulatory review at the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. California recently adopted a new indoor heat standard similar to its existing outdoor heat illness prevention standard.

“Had Guerrero Ag developed and implemented an effective heat illness prevention plan, this worker’s life could have been saved,” Danelle Jindra, OSHA’s Tampa, Florida, area office director, said in an agency statement. “Employers must take action to protect employees from workplace hazards, including heat hazards both outdoors and indoors, to prevent another tragic and preventable death.”

Ohio manufacturer cited for employee’s fatal burns

Ellwood Engineered Castings Co., a Hubbard, Ohio, industrial manufacturer, faces $145,184 in OSHA penalties after molten metal that was heated to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit fatally injured a 30-year-old employee, the agency announced June 27.

Agency investigators learned that the employee was working at the bottom of a pit below the casting operation and that the company didn’t have an effective process for containing and managing molten metal leaks. The employer also hadn’t developed and implemented an effective permit-required confined space program to ensure workers could safely access and exit the mold pit, failed to train employees on the hazards in the pit, and exposed workers to fall hazards of up to 15 feet, according to OSHA.

The agency cited Ellwood Engineered Castings with 11 serious workplace safety violations.

“A worker died needlessly because Ellwood Engineered Castings Co. failed to protect him and his colleagues from obvious and deadly hazards,” Howard Eberts, OSHA’s Cleveland area office director, said in a statement. “The company could have prevented this tragedy by being responsible and by following well-known safety measures.”

Ellwood Engineered Castings is part of the privately owned Ellwood Group, according to OSHA. The company produces gray iron castings weighing up to 160 tons and ductile iron castings weighing up to 60 tons and operates 3, 55-ton coreless induction furnaces.

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