This is the story of tragedy that could have been avoided with better safety housekeeping. Here, we detail a fatal accident at a sugar refinery in Wyoming, and review of the OSHA citations.
A Gemba walk by managers, or a safety inspection by employees, could have identified the easily-resolved problems.
Safety housekeeping is absolutely essential. No system in place to identify even minor safety problems? It’s time to establish one, and fix issues right away. Without one, you’re facing fines of thousands of dollars, and putting the lives of workers at risk.
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Dan Clark: Hi there. This is The Safety Brief. I’m Dan Clark on health and safety hazards in today’s industrial and construction worksites.
Housekeeping in the workplace can prevent injuries and death. I want to give you an example of a fatality that should’ve been prevented if someone had paid attention to safety. In January 2014, a worker died at a sugar refinery in Wyoming when she fell into the factory’s water pumping machinery. Firefighters later investigated and found that she was working alone and she fell, unseen, through missing floor grating. The hole in the floor was obstructed by a bunch of clutter. Nobody saw it.
Family members called because she hadn’t come home after her shift ended at 4 PM. Rescue workers finally found her body tangled up in the blades of an open water pump 11 hours later.
OSHA investigated and found 11 violations, which racked up $71,000 in fines. The main violation at this sugar refinery was the missing floor grating. But let’s go through them all, and the possible fixes.
Citations 1, 2 and 3: Not having adequate railing or toe boards on floor openings and platforms. The possible fix: Add railings. This is a time-consuming fix, but railings near openings and edges are essential.
Citation 4: Stair treads were worn down. Possible fix: Add anti-slip safety tape to the stairs.
Citations 5 and 6: Lack of proper safety signs for hazards and cranes. Possible fix: Invest in a label printer or buy signs from a third-party.
Citations 7, 8 and 9 (and these are the main ones) Lack of sufficient guards near rotating fan blades and moving hazards. The fix in this case: Install protective grating. It probably would’ve saved the woman’s life.
Citation 10: Tools in poor condition. Possible fix: Replace the tools, use labeling and foam tool organizers to help keep the tools in good condition.
Citation 11: Information about hazardous chemicals not readily available. Possible fix: Use a label maker to print off required GHS labels for each chemical storage container.
Those are the citations issued for that sugar refinery, for that situation. Imagine the weight on the shoulders of all the managers at that facility. Don’t let it happen in your workplace. Schedule an annual inspection. Employees can look for safety problems. And get the bosses involved with Gemba Walks. In a Gemba Walk, managers walk around the place to look for safety issues, check machinery, and talk with employees.
That’s all for now. Come back for more tips on staying safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I am Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, sponsored by Creative Safety Supply. See their website at creativesafetysupply.com