OSHA has cited Northern Wind Inc., a New Bedford, Mass., seafood processor, for 23 alleged violations of workplace safety standards after a worker was killed on May 4 when he became caught in the moving parts of a large industrial ice-making machine that activated while he was performing maintenance work inside it.
According to an OSHA press release, inspectors found that the plant lacked specific steps and procedures to power down and lock out the ice machine's power source before employees entered it. The agency's investigation also found that workers were not trained to recognize and address the hazard of the machine operating without warning. In addition, the plant lacked a program and employee training for working in confined spaces, such as the ice machine, and ladders were not available to ensure safe entry and exit from the ice machine.
"This is exactly the type of grave accident that OSHA's hazardous energy control, or 'lockout/tagout' standard, is designed to prevent," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for southeastern Massachusetts. "For the safety of their workers, employers must always ensure that machinery is powered down and its power sources locked out before workers perform maintenance. Employers must also ensure that workers are properly trained for work in confined spaces."
Additionally, OSHA's inspection identified unmarked exit doors and a lack of emergency exit route lighting, no eyewash or drenching facilities for employees working with corrosive chemicals, a lack of material safety data sheets and chemical hazard communication training, unguarded open-sided floors, a missing safety latch on a hoisting hook and several electrical-related hazards.
All told, these conditions resulted in the issuance of 19 serious citations, with $62,800 in proposed fines. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known. The company also has been fined $4,000 for four other-than-serious hazards, including incomplete recording of injuries and illnesses. The combined penalties total $66,800.