Worker's Fatal Electrocution at Sawmill Carries $41,310 Penalty

Two serious safety violations related to the fatality include failing to train employees on work safety practices and allowing unqualified employees to work on energized equipment.

OSHA has cited Graham Lumber Co. for 15 safety and health violations following the March death of a worker who was electrocuted at the company's Fulton, Miss., sawmill while troubleshooting a malfunctioning starter inside a motor power control center. Proposed penalties total $41,310.

Two serious safety violations related to the fatality include failing to train employees on work safety practices and allowing unqualified employees to work on energized equipment. Eleven other serious safety violations include failing to have protective shields, barriers, or insulating material to protect employees who could come into contact with energized parts; having a damaged electrical cord on a footswitch; not properly grounding a floor fan; failing to adequately protect electrical cables; storing oxygen cylinders less than 20 feet from gas cylinders; failing to separate and store oxygen cylinders away from combustible material; exposing workers to burns and struck-by hazards from unsecured acetylene cylinders; failing to take precautions to protect the propane gas system from vehicular damage; and having an unguarded shaft end.

Two other-than-serious health violations were cited for failing to post and provide employees with a copy of the noise standard, and to include the chemical inventory in the company's hazard communication program.

"This fatality could have been prevented had the employer provided proper training, procedures and protective equipment to safeguard workers against safety hazards," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's area director in Jackson. "It is the employer's responsibility to assess workplace hazards and ensure corrective measures are taken to protect employees."

Graham Lumber Co., a subsidiary of Waynesboro, Va.-based American Hardwood Industries, operates two other sawmills in Linden and Selmer, Tenn., and has its corporate office in Linden. The company mills hardwood lumber primarily for the flooring industry.

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