Occupational Health & Safety

Foundry Fined $124,000 Following Worker Fatality

In this case, a coal chute became jammed and the operator left his controls to attempt to un-jam it. Through miscommunication, another employee took the controls and moved the transport vehicle, which hit the worker, crushing him between a guardrail and the jammed coal bin chute.

OSHA has cited ABC Coke in Birmingham, Ala., a division of Drummond Co., for 27 safety and health violations following the death of a worker in March. Proposed penalties total $124,000.

At the foundry coke production facility, coke ovens are filled from above by means of transport vehicles, which drop coal down through chutes into the ovens. In this case, a coal chute became jammed and the operator left his controls to attempt to un-jam it. Through miscommunication, another employee took the controls and moved the transport vehicle, which hit the worker, crushing him between a guardrail and the jammed coal bin chute.

OSHA cited the company for one serious safety violation related to the fatality: failing to develop and utilize lockout/tagout procedures for the energy source of the coal transport vehicle, which would have prevented it from moving while the worker was un-jamming the coal chute.

Additionally, 22 serious safety violations involve not wearing seatbelts while operating a forklift, open-sided floors and platforms that were not guarded, missing mid-rails and top-rails on platforms, open-sided stairs without handrails on both sides, storing unsecured propane and oxygen cylinders, unguarded fixed ladder cages, unapproved storage cabinets for flammable liquids, lack of an eyewash station, permitting unauthorized personnel to ride on powered industrial trucks, unguarded machine equipment, numerous instances of exit routes that were not marked, and various electrical deficiencies.

One other-than-serious safety violation was cited for failing to mark the approved load rating for a storage room in a building or other structure.

A separate health inspection revealed two serious violations, including allowing employees to have beards while wearing respirators and failing to label hazardous chemical containers. One other-than-serious health violation was cited for not labeling containers used for contaminated clothing.

"This fatality could have been prevented had the employer ensured that proper procedures were developed and implemented," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's area director in Birmingham. "It is the employer's responsibility to assess workplace hazards and ensure corrective measures are taken to protect employees."

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