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October 13, 2021
Tootsie Roll facing $136K OSHA fine in amputation case

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Tootsie Roll Industries LLC for a willful violation of the machine guarding standard after a 48-year-old worker suffered a partial finger amputation after the employer allowed bypassed safety locks on a machine’s access doors that enabled a bag sealer to close on the employee’s finger. The agency is seeking $136,532 in proposed penalties.

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“Employers must never put profits before people,” Chicago South Area Director James Martineck said in an agency statement.

“When they do and fail to meet their obligations to keep workers safe, we will take action to hold them accountable,” Martineck continued. “Hundreds of workers are injured needlessly each year because employers ignore safety guards, often to speed up production, and that’s exactly what happened in this case.”

Fatality at Valmont Coatings

OSHA also cited Valmont Coatings’ Clarkmore, Oklahoma, facility, doing business locally as Oklahoma Galvanizing, for exposing workers to crushing and other hazards following the death of a 19-year-old worker at the facility. The agency cited Valmont for 1 willful and 5 serious violations, proposing $202,000 in penalties.

The company failed to use proper rigging equipment and perform inspections and maintenance on cranes, according to the agency, and a worker was attaching multiple small steel I-beams to a large lifting fixture when the entire assembly fell on him. An OSHA inspection found that the company also exposed workers to slip and trip hazards near hot-dip tanks and failed to provide required emergency showers and eyewash stations.

“Equipment used to lift or move heavy parts must be inspected regularly and kept in good condition or removed from service to avoid worker injuries or fatalities,” Oklahoma City Area Director Steven Kirby said in an agency statement. “This employer’s failure to do so cost a young worker his life.”

Valmont Coatings, based in Omaha, Nebraska, is a leading provider of hot-dip galvanizing and applied coating services at 35 facilities in 7 countries, according to OSHA. Valmont Coatings is a subsidiary of Valmont Industries Inc., which does business in more than 23 countries and operates 80 manufacturing facilities to produce engineered support structures, coatings, irrigation, and utility support structures.

Lead exposure at Tampa facility

OSHA cited Envirofocus Technologies LLC, operating as Gopher Resource LLC, with a willful violation for exposing workers to lead inhalation hazards at its Tampa battery recycling facility and smelter. The agency is seeking proposed penalties totaling $319,876.

OSHA also cited the employer for:

  • Allowing cadmium, lead, and inorganic arsenic exposure levels above the permissible exposure limit (PEL);
  • Not implementing adequate engineering and work practice controls to prevent lead and inorganic arsenic exposure levels above the PEL;
  • Failing to provide an annual update of the written compliance program for cadmium, inorganic lead, and arsenic;
  • Allowing workers to share aluminized jackets that were damaged, stored in the open, and exposed to lead;
  • Requiring workers to wear respirators that were not fit tested annually;
  • Using shoveling, sweeping, or brushing methods to remove lead accumulations; and
  • Not identifying all hazards on entry permits.

“This employer put their bottom line above the safety and well-being of their workers,” Tampa Area Director Danelle Jindra said in an agency statement.

“Continuing to put workers in harm’s way is unacceptable, and OSHA will continue to hold employers like Gopher Resource responsible.”

OSHA also cited A & B Maintenance & Construction Inc., a Tampa-based company that provides maintenance at the Gopher facility, for exposing workers to health hazards by failing to maintain a written respiratory protection program and allowing lead exposure in excess of the PEL. The company faces $16,384 in penalties.

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