Alabama’s ABC Coke cited for 27 safety and health violations by US Department of Labor’s OSHA following worker fatality

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: September 26th, 2011
Topics: Lockout Tagout | Transportation Safety |

he U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited ABC Coke in Birmingham, a division of Drummond Co., for 27 safety and health violations following the death of a worker in March.

At the foundry coke production facility, coke ovens are filled from above by means of transport vehicles, which drop coal down through chutes into the ovens. In this case, a coal chute became jammed and the operator left his controls to attempt to un-jam it. Through miscommunication, another employee took the controls and moved the transport vehicle, which hit the worker, crushing him between a guardrail and the jammed coal bin chute.

OSHA cited the company for one serious safety violation related to the fatality: failing to develop and utilize lockout/tagout procedures for the energy source of the coal transport vehicle, which would have prevented it from moving while the worker was un-jamming the coal chute.

Additionally, 22 serious safety violations involve not wearing seatbelts while operating a forklift, open-sided floors and platforms that were not guarded, missing mid-rails and top-rails on platforms, open-sided stairs without handrails on both sides, storing unsecured propane and oxygen cylinders, unguarded fixed ladder cages, unapproved storage cabinets for flammable liquids, lack of an eyewash station, permitting unauthorized personnel to ride on powered industrial trucks, unguarded machine equipment, numerous instances of exit routes that were not marked and various electrical deficiencies. 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.

One other-than-serious safety violation was cited for failing to mark the approved load rating for a storage room in a building or other structure. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

A separate health inspection revealed two serious violations, including allowing employees to have beards while wearing respirators and failing to label hazardous chemical containers. One other-than-serious health violation was cited for not labeling containers used for contaminated clothing.

“This fatality could have been prevented had the employer ensured that proper procedures were developed and implemented,” said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA’s area director in Birmingham. “It is the employer’s responsibility to assess workplace hazards and ensure corrective measures are taken to protect employees.”

Proposed penalties total $124,000. The citations can be viewed at:

ABC Coke, which employs about 1,200 workers, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed 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.

Source: OSHA Regional News Release