Occupational Health & Safety

Teenage Workers Still Recovering from Amputation Injuries

As OSHA filed $21,500 in penalties and four serious violations against Zaloudek Grain Co. in connection with the case, one of the victims spoke about his recovery to classmates on Feb. 3, his 18th birthday.

Lawsuits are under way in connection with an Aug. 4, 2011, incident at a Zaloudek Grain Co. facility in which two 17-year-olds were seriously injured. Bryce Gannon and Tyler Zander both had a leg amputated when they became caught in an inadequately guarded conveyor auger while cleaning out a grain flat storage structure at the company's facility in Kremlin, Okla., according to OSHA, which now has filed four alleged serious violations and $21,500 in penalties against Zaloudek Grain.

The Enid News & Eagle has covered the case extensively. The newspaper's recent reports by Staff Writer Phyllis Zorn and others said Zaloudek Grain Co. has paid a $750 fine assessed by the Oklahoma Department of Labor for failing to have worker's compensation insurance on Aug. 4, when Gannon and Zander were injured. Staff Writer Austin Prickett filed a report dated Feb. 3 about a talk given by Zander to fellow students that morning at his high school, Chisholm High School in Enid. He described the accident and his recovery, including two and a half months spent in the hospital; Zander celebrated his 18th birthday on Feb. 3, Prickett reported.

John Hermanson, OSHA's Region 6 administrator in Dallas, said Gannon became caught in the auger and Zander was injured when he tried to help him. "The penalties we issued that are related to the amputations -- they're the statutory maximum of $7,000 for serious violations," said Hermanson. He said his regional office had not been involved in an enforcement case with Zaloudek Grain before this one.

“Zaloudek is going to be contesting OSHA’s citations,” said Paula Quillin, a Tulsa, Okla.-based attorney representing the company. “It’s obviously a tragic accident.”

Hermanson said Region 6's 142 compliance officers have conducted 22 inspections in grain handling facilities as part of OSHA's Regional Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities. The region covers Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and also New Mexico, which operates a state plan.

The assessed violations include failing to affix or secure the machine guard over the moving conveyor auger, failing to ensure the storage structure's exit was free and unobstructed, failure to provide exit signs from the storage structure, and failure to provide training for workers assigned to enter grain structures.

In September, OSHA's Oklahoma City Area Office opened a separate, comprehensive safety inspection of the Kremlin facility as part of the emphasis program, and this investigation uncovered five additional serious violations for allegedly failing to provide training on the use of a forklift; failing to develop and implement an emergency action plan and HazCom program; failing to develop and implement a housekeeping program to reduce the accumulation of combustible dust in grain structures; and failing to ensure precautions were taken before employees entered grain bins. The citations and fines totaling $12,500 were issued on Dec. 20 and contested by the employer.

According to OSHA, Zaloudek Grain employs about six workers at the Kremlin facility.

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