Investigation into worker’s fatal fall finds Henderson sawmill, pallet manufacturer exposed workers to willful, serious hazards
February 16, 2022
A federal investigation into fatal injuries suffered by an 86-year-old worker at a Henderson sawmill and pallet manufacturer found the company exposed workers to hazardous energy sources and lack of machine guarding.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an inspection on July 28, 2021, after receiving a report that the worker had fallen from a stack of pallets on July 6, 2021, at W.D. Townley and Son Lumber Company Inc.
OSHA cited the company for willful violations for failing to use energy control procedures and implement a hearing conservation program, as required by law. The agency also issued citations for serious violations for lack of machine guarding, failing to use personal protective equipment, not addressing the hazards from operating powered industrial trucks, and neglecting to notify OSHA within 8 hours of a work-related fatality as required. The lumber company faces $389,706 in proposed penalties.
“Sawmill operations can be hazardous work, but it should not be life-threatening,” said OSHA Area Director Basil Singh in Dallas. “W.D. Townley and Son Lumber Company Inc. showed a complete disregard for their employees’ well-being. OSHA will hold employers accountable when they neglect their legal responsibility to provide workers with a safe workplace.”
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The American Society of Safety Engineers is offering a virtual symposium to help occupational safety and health professionals better understand the sweeping changes OSHA recently made to its final rule on Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection standards in relation to slip, trip and fall hazards.