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Hussmann faces fine after worker’s death

oshaUSA: Refrigeration equipment manufacturer Hussmann faces a fine of $272,250 following the death of a worker in 2014.

The 58-year-old maintenance worker is said to have been killed after he was pinned between a scrap metal table and a railing at Hussmann’s Bridgeton facility.

The US Department of Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the company failed to prevent the table from lowering unintentionally. As a result, Hussmann received three willful and 12 serious safety violations after the incident. The company was also placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Programme.

“This tragic loss could have been prevented,” claimed Bill McDonald, OSHA’s area director in St Louis. “OSHA inspectors found workers at risk of life-threatening hazards because Hussmann Corp failed to train its workforce to prevent unintentional operation of dangerous machinery. This company needs to fix safety procedure deficiencies, so no other family is forced to suffer.”

OSHA cited Hussmann for three willful violations for not placing devices on machinery to prevent the sudden startup or movement of equipment during service and maintenance, a procedure known as lockout/tagout. The company also failed to correct numerous problems related to its lockout/tagout procedures, such as using electronic gate switches as a substitute for an energy-isolating device.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Hussmann was also accused of failing to train workers on safety procedures and lacked effective safeguards for moving parts on machinery. Inspectors identified unsafe practices related to powered industrial trucks, including allowing employees to work under a load held aloft by the vehicle, exposing them to crushed-by hazards. OSHA also discovered electrical safety hazards involving cabinets that were not closed properly to prevent contact with energised wires and using damaged electrical cables. In total, OSHA cited the company for 12 serious violations.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $272,250. Hussmann has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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