Lockout Procedure Cited After Worker Falls Into Hot Asphalt
OSHA has issued citations to a company after an 18-year-old worker fell into hot asphalt and died. According to the investigation, the conveyor belt the worker was working on abruptly turned on resulting in the death. The worker was attempting to remove debris from the conveyor when the accident occurred. OSHA found that the conveyor had not been “locked out” prior to the attempt to remove the debris.
In this case, OSHA cited the company for a lack of lockout procedures. Lockout procedures prevent dangerous machinery from turning on while the machinery is being serviced. In most cases, there should be no way that the machine could actually turn on while anyone is working on it. In this case, the failure of the lockout procedure resulted in the death of a worker.
OSHA cites companies for failing to have lockout/tagout procedures that prevent the release of dangerous energy. OSHA expects all employers to have a policy or procedure for dealing with hazardous energy in various forms. In this case, the company did not have a policy and was thus cited by OSHA for “willfully” violating federal regulations that prevent injury and death to employees.
What should have happened?
Well, the worker should not have died while cleaning a conveyor. While the conveyor was being cleaned, the machine should have been completely shut down. In fact, the machine should have been shut down and prevented from accidentally starting up again. In this case, the machine was never shut down and the employees were never warned that the machine had to be shut down while it was being cleaned. As a result, an 18-year-old entry-level worker lost his life. Ultimately, the death was the company’s fault, as the company failed to ensure the safety of its workers by implementing common and basic safety measures.
OSHA has proposed a fine of nearly $400,000 which is quite significant by OSHA standards. Fines usually only get that high when the company commits a willful act of negligence. Since lockout procedures are a common part of doing any kind of industrial work, a lapse in this safety standard means that there is a lapse in all safety standards. The employee had only been working at the site for three months before his death. Had the employee been trained properly or his supervisors been following recommended lockout guidelines, the employee would still be alive.
To be sure, OSHA does not often administer fines this high, so when it does, you know that the death was senseless, avoidable, and the result of a willful act of negligence.
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If you are injured on the job, you may be entitled to recover workers’ compensation payments related to medical expenses and a portion of your wages. Call the Decatur workers’ compensation lawyers at the O’Connell Law Firm today and we can begin discussing your recovery immediately.