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OSHA cites grain company after 2 teenage workers suffer leg amputations

February 9, 2012
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OSHA has cited Zaloudek Grain Co. with four serious safety violations following an incident involving two 17-year-olds. Both suffered leg amputations when they became caught in an inadequately guarded conveyor auger while cleaning out a grain flat storage structure at the company's facility in Kremlin.

"Employers who endanger the lives and limbs of their workers will be held accountable for putting them at risk," said John Hermanson, OSHA's regional administrator in Dallas. "In this case, the lives of two teenagers will never be the same."

The incident occurred last August. Violations from the investigation that resulted include failing to affix or secure the machine guard over the moving conveyor auger, ensure the storage structure's exit was free and unobstructed, provide exit signs from the storage structure and provide training for workers assigned to enter grain structures. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Proposed penalties total $21,500.

Zaloudek Grain, which employs about six workers at the Kremlin facility, has 15 business days from receipt of these citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

In September, OSHA's Oklahoma City Area Office opened a separate, comprehensive safety inspection of the Kremlin facility under the agency's Regional Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities that uncovered five additional serious violations. They include failing to provide training on the use of a forklift; develop and implement an emergency action plan and hazard communication program; develop and implement a housekeeping program to reduce the accumulation of combustible dust in grain structures; and ensure precautions were taken prior to employees entering grain bins. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Citations, with fines totaling $12,500, were issued on Dec. 20 and contested by the employer.

OSHA has fined grain operators in Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, South Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Nebraska following preventable fatalities and injuries in grain storage bins. In addition to enforcement actions, OSHA sent a notification letter to 13,000 grain elevator operators warning them of proper safety precautions. For a copy of the letter, visit http://www.osha.gov/asst-sec/Grain-Letter-2-1-2011.html.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Oklahoma City office at 405-278-9560.

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