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The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has started the second phase of a program to reduce industrial powered truck fatalities, particularly in North Georgia’s carpet and rug industry. "Within the past four years we’ve investigated 13 fatalities involving powered industrial trucks or forklifts," says Susan Johnston, OSHA’s Atlanta-West area director. "Four of these deaths occurred in North Georgia carpet and rug manufacturing plants, including the warehouse areas."
OSHA mailed information to local area powered industrial truck and forklift vendors and asked them to distribute the packets to all customers. The packets included the new OSHA training requirements and urged employers and employees to review operating procedures, upgrade personnel safety training, examine, and if needed repair equipment and systems. "In too many of these fatalities, the truck operator’s view was obstructed. That’s preventable. Safety training and safe operating practices are key to saving lives," says Patricia Morris, assistant area director and contact person for the outreach effort.
The forklift safety campaign will continue through Jan. 31, 2002. OSHA will focus on carpet and rug industry locations in the Atlanta-West area which includes 32 western counties from mid- to North Georgia. While the inspection phase will be geared to hazards related to powered industrial truck operations, if other hazards are observed, they will be addressed.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Union Foundry Co. in Anniston, AL, and proposed penalties totaling $181,200 for serious, willful, and repeat safety and health violations following the investigation of an Aug. 22 fatality at the plant. The accident happened when an employee was caught in an unguarded conveyor pulley while attempting to unclog a sand chute nearby. "This tragic accident could easily have been prevented if the employer had adopted standard safety procedures that guard workers from hazards associated with moving machine parts," says Ramona Morris, acting director of OSHA’s Birmingham area office.
Following a safety inspection, OSHA proposed a penalty of $70,000 for one willful citation in connection with the unguarded conveyor pulley. "In this case, the conveyor pulley’s guard had been removed three months earlier when the machinery was relocated while new equipment was installed. The guard was never replaced even though it was sitting near the machine in plain view," she says.
Morris adds that the willful citation was issued because no effort was made to assure the safety of workers even though management was aware that an unguarded conveyor could result in serious injury or death. In fact, only months before, a worker had been killed in a similar accident in a Tyler, TX, plant owned by the same parent company that owns the Anniston foundry.
The safety inspection resulted in an additional $58,500 penalty for 17 serious citations for: electrical violations, including unmarked and open circuit breakers; an unguarded pit opening; other unguarded machines, and operating a crane without clearly marked load rates and audible warning devices.
OSHA also cited two repeat safety violations with total penalties of $12,500 for operating defective powered industrial trucks and failing to ground electrical equipment. Both violations had been cited previously following OSHA inspections of the company in 1999.
A health inspection was initiated, shortly after the fatality investigation began, as part of OSHA’s national emphasis program for silica. This inspection resulted in seven serious health violations with proposed penalties totaling $40,000. Violations included failure to follow silica dust standards and not providing personal protective equipment to employees exposed to noise and chemical hazards.
Union Foundry employs approximately 400 workers at the Anniston location.