OSHA cites concrete company for 10 violations after worker fatally engulfed in fly-ash silo

Proposed fines total $55,800.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Dec 1, 2013

Central Ready Mix LLC has been cited for 10 serious safety violations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration after a 39-year-old plant operator was fatally engulfed in a fly-ash storage silo on Aug. 6 at the Middletown gravel company.

“Engulfment is one of the six major hazards present in silo-type storage facilities. Employers can’t be assured that entries into a silo without incident will occur,” said Bill Wilkerson, OSHA’s area director in Cincinnati. “This was a terrible, preventable tragedy that underscores the importance of complying with safety precautions, such as using harnesses and lanyards. Employers are responsible for identifying hazards and ensuring workers follow proper procedures to prevent injury or death.”

The worker entered the cone-bottom silo in an attempt to break up clumps of fly ash that had clogged the bottom discharge. After attempts to dislodge clumps with a metal bar and air hose did not work, he climbed into the silo, without a harness and lanyard, and devoted several hours to breaking up the clumps before being engulfed.

Ten serious violations involve several violations of OSHA’s confined space permit entry requirements, including failing to evaluate a workplace for permit-required confined spaces; develop a written permit space entry program, including signage; create measures to prevent unauthorized entry; provide necessary equipment; train workers on procedures; and develop a permit issuance system and procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services. Other violations include failing to ensure workers use harnesses with retrieval lines attached; address unsafe catwalks; correct an unguarded floor hole in the silo catwalk; and use flexible electrical cords properly. 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.

OSHA’s permit-required confined space standard establishes procedures to protect workers who must enter, work in or exit spaces with configurations that hinder their activities. In addition, the configurations of such spaces may increase workers’ exposure to hazards, such as entrapment, engulfment and/or hazardous atmospheric conditions, which can lead to serious physical injury, illness or death. For more information see https://www.osha.gov/doc/outreac....

Proposed fines total $55,800.

Central Ready Mix has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and notice of proposed penalties to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. If a company does not file or contest within that period, it must abate the cited conditions within the period ordered in the citations and pay the proposed penalties.

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 Cincinnati Area Office at 513-841-4132.

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.