Lee M. Schwalben, M.D., J.D., LLC
Personal Injury Law
Admitted to practice in Louisiana, New York, New Jersey and *Florida
Free Consultation
Lake Charles 337-494-5757 Baton Rouge 225-763-7777 Toll Free 855-755-5757

Industrial accidents: United Ethanol cited by OSHA.

Louisiana readers may have learned of a citation, issued by OSHA to United Ethanol LLC for safety and health violations. This remedial action was taken after industrial accidents occurred on April 19 when an employee died after entering a bin used for grain storage at the company's facility in another state. He attempted to clear the floor chute by entering the bin and was overwhelmed when the grain piled upon him.

The failure to lock and tag the conveyors which are used to drain the bins was cited as a willful violation. This lockout safety procedure prevents the exposure of workers to the hazard of being engulfed by the grain. OSHA designates a willful violation as one committed with intent, disregard or indifference to the safety and health of employees.

OSHA cited five grain handling violations, all deemed serious. These include failure to shield the floor chute openings, preventing exposure to the hazards of moving grain and stopping workers from proceeding into bins while the hazards of engulfment exist. Further, OSHA found that the company lacked an observer to manage entry procedures and verify that the requirements for entry into the bin had been met. Fines totaling $140,000 have been proposed

Seven serious safety violations were cited. These occur when there is a significant probability that a fatality or grave physical injury could be the result of hazardous situations which the employer was aware of or should have anticipated. Due to the type and seriousness of infringements, United Ethanol LLC has been added to OSHA's enforcement program for severe violators, which authorize targeted follow-up assessments to ensure legal compliance.

This program focuses on uncooperative employers who jeopardize the safety of employees by perpetrating willful and repeat violations. Such actions often result in industrial accidents. United Ethanol employees in Louisiana should take note that, as part of the program, OSHA may examine any of the company's facilities should they have reasonable justification to suspect similar violations.

Source: Insurance Journal, United Ethanol Cited After Worker Dies in Wisconsin Corn Bin, No Author, Oct. 31, 2013