Feed Supplier Fined $157,500 after Worker Trapped in Cotton Bin

OSHA initiated an inspection in November 2011 after receiving a complaint that a worker had entered a milled cotton seed bin without preparation and appropriate equipment and became trapped and hung from a lanyard for a lengthy time.

OSHA has cited Ware Milling Co. Inc. for 30 safety and health violations at the company's Waycross, Ga., facility. Proposed penalties total $157,500.

OSHA initiated an inspection in November 2011 after receiving a complaint that a worker had entered a milled cotton seed bin without preparation and appropriate equipment and became trapped and hung from a lanyard for a lengthy time. The worker experienced leg numbness exerted by the pressure of the safety harness and fell more than 10 feet onto the top of the cotton seed mill pile after rope was cut.

Two willful safety violations include failing to perform lockout/tagout procedures for the energy source of the screw auger when workers are inside the bins and have a stationed observer who can provide emergency assistance. The citations carry penalties of $77,000.

Twenty-four serious safety and health violations include failing to select appropriate personal protective equipment and train workers on how it should fit; develop an emergency action plan; provide rescue equipment when workers enter the bins; provide respirators to workers and use engineering controls during exposure to unregulated particulates; properly guard stairways, open-sided platforms, pulleys, and belts; prevent combustible dust accumulation; address electrical deficiencies; develop and implement a hazard communication program; and label chemicals in the workplace and provide training on their usage. The citations carry penalties of $79,800.

Four other-than-serious health violations involve failing to maintain OSHA's 300 log for 2011, provide Appendix D to workers wearing dust masks, and certify workers' forklift operation training. Penalties total $700.

"OSHA is committed to reducing amputation risks in the grain handling industry and ensuring that rescue measures are in place prior to silo entry," said Robert Vazzi, OSHA's area director in Savannah. "However, a safe work site is the employer's responsibility."

A company representative was not immediately available to comment.

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