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January 13, 2023
Wisconsin malt barley supplier facing $174,351 in OSHA fines

A Wisconsin malt barley supplier is facing $174,351 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines for 2 repeat and 14 serious safety and health violations, the agency announced January 10. Agency inspectors, responding to a complaint of unsafe working conditions at Briess Industries’ Manitowoc, Wisconsin, malt house, found that workers crafting malt were exposed to confined space, machine, respiratory, and other hazards.

Briess Industries, which operates as Briess Malt & Ingredients Co., supplies malt barley to major craft breweries, home breweries, and other spirit and food production facilities throughout the Midwest, according to OSHA. The agency cited Briess for repeat lockout/tagout violations, determining that the company exposed workers to amputation and other injuries by failing to adequately implement and periodically test procedures for controlling hazardous energy before the maintenance and servicing of machinery. The agency cited the company for similar violations in 2019.

OSHA cited serious violations that included:

  • Failing to assess the safety and health hazards of malt house confined spaces,
  • Failing to implement a permit-required confined space program and train workers on confined space hazards, and
  • Exposing employees to fall hazards from the roof and entanglement and amputation hazards created by unguarded augers.

“Dangers like those we identified in this inspection are common in the manufacturing industry,” Robert Bonack, OSHA’s Appleton, Wisconsin, area director, said in an agency statement. “Briess Industries again put workers who convert barley into malt at risk of serious machine hazards and other dangers.”

Briess Industries is a family-owned company, originally founded in Eastern Europe in 1876, that has operated in Chilton, Wisconsin, since 1950, according to OSHA. In addition to its Chilton and Manitowoc facilities, the company has a barley facility in Ralston, Wyoming.

Texas contractor cited in 15-year-old worker’s death

Sheppard Farm and Ranch Services LLC of Robert Lee, Texas, is facing proposed penalties totaling $20,512 for 5 safety violations after a 15-year-old worker suffered fatal injuries while installing fencing at a Guthrie, Texas, worksite, OSHA announced January 4.

 On July 6, 2022, OSHA inspectors went to the worksite, where they learned the teenager had been trapped under heavy equipment. Investigators determined the employer had illegally modified a Caterpillar loader and failed to provide adequate training or personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, a hard hat, and safety glasses.

“This tragic event cut short a worker’s life before they reached adulthood,” Elizabeth Linda Routh, OSHA’s Lubbock, Texas, area director, said in an agency statement. “This deadly incident might have been prevented had legally required standards–proven methods for protecting workers from serious construction industry hazards–been followed.”

Sheppard Farm and Ranch Services is a farm and ranch fencing company, according to OSHA, whose five employees provide fencing services in West Texas. The agency cited Sheppard with four serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s General Duty Clause to provide employment free of recognized safety hazards; the construction industry’s head protection, PPE, and safety training and education standards; and one other-than-serious violation for failing to report a workplace fatality within 8 hours after it occurred.

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