The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued LaBolt Farmers Grain Company, Inc. in LaBolt, S.D., 13 citations for exposing workers to unsafe conditions at its grain handling facility where a worker was caught in a moving bin sweep auger and suffered severe injuries to his leg and arm.
Proposed penalties total $95,920.
"Despite awareness of the hazardous nature of grain bin entries and of the means and methods to prevent such hazards, the employer failed to develop and enforce recognized safe work practices," said Tom Deutscher, OSHA's area director in Bismarck.
OSHA issued LaBolt four willful, six repeat and three serious citations.
The willful citations address the alleged failure of the employer to develop and implement a written confined space program, ensure all equipment that presents a danger is neutralized, complete confined space and grain bin entry permits, and provide a competent person as an entrance observer.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
The six repeat citations address the alleged failure to effectively guard floor openings, pulleys and vertical belts; control fugitive grain dust accumulations; develop a written housekeeping program; and utilize approved electrical equipment.
A repeat violation is when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were cited in February 2008.
The alleged serious violations address the failure to provide effective training for workers entering confined spaces and grain bins, provide training for employees assigned special tasks and perform atmospheric testing.
A serious violation is 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 has fined grain operators in Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio and Nebraska following preventable fatalities and injuries.
In addition to enforcement actions and training, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels sent a notification letter in August 2010 and another in February 2011 to grain elevator operators on their responsibility of proper safety precautions.
LaBolt has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and 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.