Enforcement and Inspection, Injuries and Illness, Personnel Safety

Georgia Sawmill Cited for Woodchipper Fatality

Thompson Hardwoods Inc., a Hazlehurst, Georgia, sawmill, is facing $267,327 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines after a 24-year-old employee suffered fatal injuries while working with a woodchipper, the agency announced July 2.

OSHA investigators found that the worker suffered serious injuries when the equipment activated while he tried to clear a log jam. After coworkers attempted to render aid, emergency personnel transported the injured employee to a nearby hospital, but the worker’s injuries proved fatal.

The agency cited Thompson Hardwoods with one willful violation for failing to document and follow hazardous energy control (lockout/tagout) procedures to prevent caught-in and struck-by hazards on machines serviced by employees. OSHA’s lockout/tagout standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.147) is its sixth most frequently cited standard, the agency announced last fall. OSHA cited 2,554 violations in fiscal year (FY) 2023.

“We learned that Thompson Hardwoods added new equipment to increase production but did not mitigate potential hazards before allowing workers to service and maintain the new equipment,” Audrey Windham, OSHA’s acting Savannah, Georgia, area office director, said in an agency statement.

The agency also cited the employer with two serious violations for exposing workers to caught-in and struck-by hazards by not training or retraining employees engaged in lockout/tagout procedures and for failing to enclose the chain and sprocket on the shape chipper’s outfeed. The agency also cited Thompson Hardwoods for failing to maintain worker training records for lockout/tagout procedures—an other-than-serious violation.

Pennsylvania roofer cited for endangering his own children

A Liverpool, Pennsylvania, roofer risked the lives of two of his children by exposing them to falls from heights while they worked on roofs atop a Mechanicsburg apartment complex, OSHA announced July 3.

S&L Roofing, Gutters and Siding LLC faces $64,759 in OSHA penalties for five cited violations, including two willful violations, after the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry notified OSHA that the company’s owner and his 12- and 14-year-old sons were doing roofing work. In addition to finding the children were exposed to fall hazards, OSHA investigators determined that the minors were exposed to injuries while using an incorrectly set extension ladder and pneumatic nail guns in violation of federal regulations.

“Allowing children to perform roofing work is illegal and permitting them to do so without fall protection makes this case even more disturbing,” Kevin T. Chambers, OSHA’s Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, area office director, said in a statement. “Falls from heights kill hundreds of workers each year and leave many more with permanent and often disabling injuries. Once again, S&L Roofing, Gutters and Siding is ignoring mandatory federal regulations and putting people–this time his own children–in danger.”

Following two inspections in 2015, OSHA cited the company, which provides home improvement services in the Harrisburg area, with three serious violations for failing to use fall protection systems. Last year, OSHA announced that its construction industry fall protection standard was its most frequently cited standard for 13 straight years. In FY 2023, it cited 7,271 violations of §1926.501.

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