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OSHA cites concrete firm in death of temp

January 23 2014

Dukane Precast Inc., a precast concrete products manufacturer, was cited for eight safety violations in the death of temporary worker who was fatally crushed July 20 at the company’s Aurora, Ill., concrete batch plant, the U.S. Department of Labor’s U.S. Department of Labor announced Wednesday. The worker was a long-term temporary employee provided by Minute Men Staffing Services. He was supervised solely by Dukane Precast Inc. The staffing firm was not cited.

Dukane faces possible fines of $303,900.

The 39-year-old Hispanic worker had entered a concrete mixer’s discharge mud hopper, according to OSHA. He tried to free a pneumatically powered discharge gate stuck in the open position because of hardened concrete. The gate, which had not been isolated to prevent unintentional operation during maintenance activity, closed and crushed the worker.

"While we respect the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency has issued overreaching allegations and we vehemently disagree with its findings," Dukane Precast said in a statement provided to Staffing Industry Analysts. "For decades, Dukane has employed full time safety professionals, established extensive training programs and policies to protect its workers. Dukane will aggressively defend itself against these citations."

OSHA placed Dukane Precast Inc. in its “Severe Violator Enforcement Program,” which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer’s facilities or job sites.

OSHA issued four willful citations involving the worker’s entry into the concrete mixer’s discharge hopper, including failure to:

  • Inform employees of the existence, location and danger posed by the concrete mixer and discharge hopper.
  • Ensure the concrete mixer and discharge hopper were isolated from the hazards of the concrete mixing system and associated process materials prior to employee entry.
  • As part of the isolation process, ensure that the concrete mixer’s pneumatically powered discharge gate was de-energized and locked out prior to employee entry.
  • Prepare an entry permit and provide an attendant for employee entry.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for or plain indifference to, employee safety and health.

Additionally, four serious citations were cited for lacking a standard guardrail or equivalent on an open-sided platform; not using ingress and egress equipment for maintenance performed in the mixer’s discharge hopper; lack of a non-entry rescue retrieval system for maintenance performed in the mixer’s discharge hopper; and failing to conduct annual inspections of energy control procedures at the plant.

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. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its 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.


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