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Death by recycling

Lack of lockout/tagout training proves fatal at Ohio refuse facility

September 27, 2011
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oshaAn OSHA inspection begun after a worker was found dead inside a rotating drum assembly at Refuse Recycling in Marietta, Ohio, has resulted in 21 safety citations, including two for willful violations, against Marietta Industrial Enterprises, Inc., which operates the facility. The accident occurred on March 30 and involved a machine used to screen recyclables from other refuse.

"Marietta Industrial Enterprises showed an intentional disregard for employee safety by failing to provide lockout/tagout training to workers performing maintenance inside rotating drums, which could easily be restarted if their energy sources were not properly cut off," said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA's area director in Columbus.

Two willful violations involve failing to implement lockout/tagout procedures to prevent equipment from becoming unexpectedly energized and to train workers in lockout/tagout procedures.

Additionally, 14 serious violations involve failing to provide machine guarding, provide adequate guardrails, mark and illuminate emergency and exit signs, evaluate the workplace to determine if there were any confined spaces that would require permits, examine powered industrial trucks prior to each shift, ensure that employees used electrical protective equipment, provide electrically insulated tools, develop an exposure control plan for bloodborne pathogens, offer hepatitis B vaccines and label biohazard containers.

Finally, five other-than-serious violations involve using work areas for storage, as well as failing to record work-related injuries, maintain clean conditions, provide a written respiratory protection program and provide employees with information for voluntary respirator use.

As a result of the investigation, Marietta Industrial Enterprises has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Initiated in June 2010, SVEP is intended to focus on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations in one or more of the following circumstances: a fatality or catastrophe, industry operations or processes that expose workers to severe occupational hazards, employee exposure to hazards related to the potential releases of highly hazardous chemicals and all per-instance citation (egregious) enforcement actions.

Proposed penalties total $186,300.

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