Following the death of a 73-year-old worker who sustained fatal injuries from falling while loading a tanker truck, Farmers Cooperative has been cited by OSHA for one repeat and two serious safety violations at its McCool Junction fertilizer plant. The incident occurred May 7, and the worker died from his injuries May 13. The full-time employee had worked for the company since February 2013.
“Anyone who has to work at heights above 5 feet must be protected with fall protection equipment and trained on how to properly use it,” said Bonita Winingham, OSHA’s area director in Omaha. “Farmers Cooperative failed to implement the basic fall prevention steps that could have prevented this senseless tragedy.”
OSHA’s investigation found that Farmers Cooperative failed to provide a standard guard rail in the fertilizer plant’s batching area and issued one repeat citation for that violation. The company was previously cited for this violation in Exeter, Nebraska, in 2011 and Wilbur, Nebraska, in 2013. OSHA issues repeat violations if an employer was cited for a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
Two serious violations were cited for failing to provide fall protection for employees who were working on top of tanker trucks and not providing railing on stairways. 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.
Additionally, Farmers Cooperative has previously been cited by OSHA for violations related to OSHA’s grain bin standards at its grain elevators in Wilbur, Pickrell, Dorchester, Exeter and McCool Junction. This was the first inspection at the McCool Junction fertilizer plant, which was recently purchased by the company.
The company 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 independentOccupational Safety & Health Review Commission. Proposed fines total $84,000.
To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint; or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Omaha Area Office at 402-553-0171.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.