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March 14, 2024
Forklift fatality at Boston’s Logan Airport nets serious citations

Rochester, New York, maintenance firm Oxford Airport Technical Services faces $46,096 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines following the fatal injury of a forklift operator at Boston’s Logan International Airport, the agency announced March 11.

According to OSHA, the August 29, 2023, fatality could have been prevented if the employer had used proper safeguards for operating and maintaining forklifts.

An Oxford Airport Technical Services’ employee was attempting to drive a forklift into a building when the vehicle’s forks and mast struck the overhang of the entrance, causing the forklift to tip over. The operator, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, fell to the ground, and the tipping vehicle fatally struck him.

Agency inspectors found that the company failed to ensure the worker wore a seat belt while operating the forklift, exposing him to rollover and crushing hazards. Investigators also determined the following:

  • The forklift’s forks and mast weren’t raised only as far as necessary to clear the road surface.
  • All forklift operators weren’t properly trained and certified.
  • A damaged forklift wasn’t examined before being placed in service.
  • A damaged forklift wasn’t taken out of service.

“Every workplace fatality is tragic, especially when there are well-known safety measures that could have prevented the loss of a person’s life,” James Mulligan, OSHA’s Braintree, Massachusetts, area office director, said in an agency statement. “In this case, the employer failed to train and certify their forklift operators on critical safety requirements. It’s simply inexcusable.”

Last fall, OSHA announced its powered industrial trucks standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.178) is its fifth most cited standard. The agency cited 2,561 violations of this standard in fiscal year (FY) 2023.

Pennsylvania finisher facing $345K OSHA fine for fatality

Vorteq Coil Finishers LLC, a Valencia, Pennsylvania, finishing company, is facing $345,685 in OSHA penalties and has been placed in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), OSHA announced March 11.

After opening a fatality investigation, the agency determined that an employee was instructed to clean a chrome roller on a coater machine while in operation. The employee was pulled into the machine and suffered fatal injuries. OSHA cited the employer with two willful and two serious violations for failing to implement lockout/tagout procedures and not installing machine guarding.

OSHA also announced last fall that its lockout/tagout standard (§1910.147) is its sixth most cited standard, cited 2,554 times in FY 2023. The machine guarding standard (§1910.212) is OSHA’s tenth most cited standard, cited 1,644 times in FY 2023.

“Vorteq Coil Finishers’ failure to value employee safety created conditions that cost a worker his life,” Christopher Robinson, OSHA’s Pittsburgh area office director, said in a statement. “This incident, and the company’s history of similar incidents and serious injuries at this and other plants, emphasize the crucial need for a shift in company culture to make worker safety and health a core workplace principle. OSHA will continue to monitor and hold the company accountable until there are sufficient changes.”

“All evidence gathered during the inspection revealed that management employees at the highest level of the plant knew how dangerous it was to clean this machine while it was operating but required employees to do so to minimize downtime and maximize production,” Robinson added.

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