EHS Administration, Enforcement and Inspection

Nebraska Recycler Placed in SVEP After Fatality

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on August 4 announced that Mid-Nebraska Disposal is facing $337,903 in proposed penalties and has been placed in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) following a worker fatality.

Agency investigators found that a 20-year-old worker was feeding cardboard waste into a baler on February 7, 2022, when debris jammed the machine. The worker fell into the machine trying to remove the stuck cardboard and suffered severe amputation injuries. The worker was taken to the hospital, where he died the next day.

The agency alleged that the company failed to ensure energy sources were locked out, which would have kept the machine’s operating parts from moving while the worker cleared the jam. OSHA cited Mid-Nebraska Disposal for 18 violations—two willful, 15 serious, and one other-than-serious—involving machine safety, permit-required confined space safety requirements, training, and fall hazards.

“A 20-year-old’s life was cut short needlessly; he was on the job for just nine months. Employers are legally obligated to safeguard dangerous machinery and use required safety procedures for entering confined spaces,” OSHA’s Omaha, Nebraska Area Director Matt Thurlby said in an agency statement.

“Employers must follow all safety precautions and train workers to de-energize and lock out a machine before clearing jams or providing service or maintenance to prevent serious or fatal injuries.”

OSHA’s general industry lockout/tagout standard (29 CFR §1910.147) is one of the agency’s most frequently cited standards, cited 1,698 times in fiscal year (FY) 2021.

Violations of the permit-required confined spaces standard identified at the Grand Island, Nebraska, facility included failing to develop procedures, train workers, recognize hazards, place attendants outside when an employee enters a confined space, and ensure emergency services are available. 

Employers placed in the agency’s SVEP are subject to mandatory follow-up inspections and increased agency pressure to abate cited hazards.

Texas Crate and Pallet Manufacturer Facing $248K in OSHA Fines

OSHA on August 4 also announced that a Jacksonville, Texas, wood crate and pallet manufacturer with a history of workplace safety violations has been cited for serious and repeat violations for machine guarding hazards, housekeeping issues, and failing to provide required hearing protection. M&H Crates Inc. faces $248,866 in proposed penalties.

The agency opened an inspection on February 8, 2022, after receiving a complaint. OSHA determined that the company failed to develop, document, or use lockout/tagout procedures to prevent sudden machine start-ups. Inspectors also discovered that M&H Crates failed to implement required machine guarding, which exposed workers to hazards, including amputation.

According to OSHA, machine guarding violations are the most frequently cited in the manufacturing industry.

“M&H Crates Inc. continues to expose its employees to dangerous workplace hazards by ignoring required federal safety standards,” OSHA’s Dallas Area Director Basil Singh said in an agency statement.

“These safeguards can be the difference between ending a shift safely and suffering a serious and life-altering injury. M&H Crates must develop and implement a company culture where worker safety and health is a priority.”

OSHA has cited M&H Crates following inspections in 2012, 2014, and 2020. In June 2020, inspectors examined safety failures after an employee cutting pallet boards suffered a finger amputation while using an unguarded band saw.

OSHA has a National Emphasis Program (NEP) of outreach, inspection, and enforcement for amputation hazards in manufacturing. The agency last updated its NEP on December 10, 2019.