Sawmill Death Leads to Fines: Sawmill Cited by OSHA
Sawmill work is inherently dangerous to its workers. They work with very heavy materials, using very dangerous machinery, and they’re exposed to chemicals and sawdust, which can be dangerous when you breathe it, and which also constitutes a fire hazard, due to its combustibility.
Timpson, Texas-based Nix Forest Industries Inc. has been slapped by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with 17 violations of safety and health regulations, after an investigation following an accident that left a worker dead, after he was struck by a flying piece of a broken band saw blade. What they found during their investigation was that workers in the mill were exposed to a significant number of hazards.
One of the violations was found to be willful, for a failure to use lockout control procedures to turn off power to machinery and equipment when workers were dislodging jams, cleaning or removing debris. Willful violations are those committed with “intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.”
Fourteen of the violations were considered serious, mostly having to do with the same issue; the company’s failure to implement easy to understand and complete lockout and tagout procedures and training to workers, as well as a failure to provide posted guidance to lock out machines. Other citations were for not providing guards for machines, including the band saw, as well as failure to make sure cords and cables were safe and secure. There was also a single health violation cited for failing to implement an effective program for protecting the workers’ hearing in a highly noisy workplace. A violation is considered “serious” by OSHA, 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.”
According to the OSHA announcement, the company faces more than $116,000 in fines. But they could face serious liability for any death or injury that results from the company’s failure to provide adequate guards around their machines to protect workers. Locking out machines when they are being serviced or maintained, so that they can’t accidentally turn on, should also be routine in any workplace, to prevent injury.
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed on the job, and you suspect there were inadequate safety protections in place, contact the Texas Worksite Injury Lawyers at Hill Law Firm for a free consultation as soon as possible.