State: OK OSHA Issues Fines to Grain Facility Where 2 Teenagers Lost Legs:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Friday it has issued an Oklahoma grain-handling facility four serious safety citations, with fines totaling $21,500, following an accident on Aug. 4 in which two 17-year-old workers each lost a leg.

OSHA reported the teenagers working for Zaloudek Grain Co. in Kremlin both suffered leg amputations when they became caught in an allegedly inadequately guarded conveyor auger while cleaning out a grain flat storage structure.

The citations from OSHA’s inspection included allegedly failing to affix or secure the machine guard over the moving conveyor auger, to ensure the storage structure’s exit was free and unobstructed, to provide exit signs from the storage structure and to provide training for workers assigned to enter grain structures.

In September, OSHA’s Oklahoma City area office opened a separate safety inspection of the Kremlin facility under the agency’s regional emphasis program for grain-handling facilities that resulted in five serious citations.

The alleged violations for those citations included allegedly failing to provide training on the use of a forklift, to develop and implement an emergency action plan and hazard communication program, to develop and implement a housekeeping program to reduce the accumulation of combustible dust in grain structures, and to ensure precautions were taken prior to employees entering grain bins.

OSHA issued citations, with fines totaling $12,500, for those alleged violations on Dec. 20. Zaloudek Grain has contested those citations.

The company had 15 days to contest the latest citations.

Zaloudek Grain has paid a $750 fine assessed by the Oklahoma Department of Labor for not having workers’ compensation insurance at the time of the accident, but is suing CompSource Oklahoma, its current insurer, claiming it had or should have had coverage at the time of the accident.

CompSource contends it sent notice in February 2011 to the company warning that the policy would be canceled if audit information requested by the insurance company was not received.

The parents of Bryce Gannon and Tyler Zander, the injured teenagers, have filed separate lawsuits against Zaloudek Grain in Garfield County district court, seeking damages in excess of $75,000 each.

OSHA noted that it has fined grain operators in Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, South Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Nebraska following preventable fatalities and injuries in grain storage bins.

In addition to enforcement actions, OSHA sent a notification letter last year to 13,000 grain elevator operators warning them of the need to take proper safety precautions.

Source:  OSHA, WorkCompCentral

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