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November 06, 2023
Contractor cited in fatal fall at electric car plant site

A 34-year-old steel worker suffered a fatal 60-foot fall at the site of a Hyundai electric car plant in Ellabell, Georgia. Geismar, Louisiana-based Eastern Constructors Inc. now faces $160,724 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties for one willful and one serious violation, the agency announced November 2.

Because of the company’s “plain indifference” and willful violation, OSHA has placed Eastern Constructors in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).

Agency inspectors found that workers employed by Eastern Constructors had been guiding an I-beam in place atop the plant’s paint building when the fall occurred. A worker who was walking along the top of the building’s upper frame lost his balance and fell, and the sharp edge of the structure cut his safety line.

Emergency personnel arrived soon after, but the worker died at the scene, according to OSHA.

Agency inspectors concluded that the employer failed to ensure workers were provided fall arrest equipment that was appropriate for the work conditions and capable of resisting sharp edges, exposing employees to fall hazards. The company also exposed employees to fall hazards by not taking worn and damaged fall arrest systems out of service, according to the agency.

Since 2016, OSHA has investigated Eastern Constructors in response to four other worker fatalities. These inspections resulted in serious and willful violations for hazards related to steel erection, including fall protection.

“The risks of serious and fatal injuries for people working at these heights are well-known and no step should ever be overlooked during the process of inspecting the worksite for hazards,” Jessica Bookman, OSHA’s acting Savannah, Georgia, area office director, said in an agency statement.

OSHA announced last month that the agency’s construction industry fall protection standard was its most frequently cited standard for the 13th straight year. OSHA cited 7,271 violations in fiscal year (FY) 2023, which ended September 30.

Pasta maker cited for a third time in 5 years

Rana Meal Solutions LLC, a maker of ready-made pasta, sauces, and meals, has been cited for safety violations a third time in 5 years, OSHA announced November 2.

The agency investigated a report that an employee at the company’s Bartlett, Illinois, manufacturing facility suffered a finger amputation and determined that the incident occurred on a hot pasta sauce line. At the time, the employee was trying to find a piece of a broken ball valve lodged in the system. 

Rana now faces OSHA penalties totaling $272,792 for 2 repeat and 12 serious violations.

Inspectors concluded that Rana didn’t ensure employees were adequately de-energizing all hazardous energy sources during the servicing and maintenance, including setup and cleaning, of sauce line equipment and other food processing machines. OSHA announced last month that the agency’s control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout) standard was its sixth most frequently cited standard, cited 2,554 times in FY 2023.

Serious safety violations cited at Rana’s Bartlett facility included the following: 

  • Storing chemicals in a room without an adequately installed electrical circuit for a light switch and mechanical ventilation, a raised sill, or a grated trench to safely drain spilled chemicals.
  • Not fully implementing a confined space safety program, including the issuance of entry permits. 
  • Not developing, documenting, or using lockout/tagout procedures for several machines. Investigators found the company didn’t retrain employees periodically on proper procedures and failed to use group lockouts when several employees serviced and maintained equipment. 
  • Failing to inspect slings each day before their use. 
  • Not affixing alloy chains with a permanent, durable information tag on size, grade, and rated capacity. 
  • Lacking adequate machine guarding. 
  • Not enclosing chains and sprockets completely to protect employees from injuries. 

“Once again, our inspectors found Rana Meal Solutions LLC ignoring federal safety requirements to make sure dangerous machines are guarded or fully de-energized before they are maintained or serviced,” Jacob Scott, OSHA’s Naperville, Illinois, area office director, said in a statement.

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