FULTON, Miss. – A Graham Lumber Co. employee was killed after he became entangled in a conveyor belt at the company's lumber mill in Fulton. The worker, employed at the company for less than two weeks, was cleaning up sawdust and bark around an unguarded conveyor when the entanglement occurred. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Graham Lumber for one willful and one serious safety violation following the April 2014 fatality.
"This tragic incident could have been prevented if the employer ensured that the safety guard, which had been removed, was replaced immediately. This illustrates how important it is for a company to maintain safeguards even during nonproduction work activity because it directly affects the health and safety of all workers," said Eugene Stewart, director of OSHA's Jackson Area Office.
The willful citation was issued for the employer's failure to ensure machine conveyor belts, sprocket chains and rollers were guarded to prevent employees from becoming caught in them. 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.
OSHA issued the serious citation for failure to provide a safety guard on a rotating shaft end on a sawdust collector conveyor belt, which exposed workers to caught-in and amputation hazards. 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.
This facility was previously inspected by OSHA in 2011 after an employee was electrocuted, and 15 citations for safety violations were issued. Additionally, the Selma, Tennessee, and the Fulton facilities experienced fatalities in 2014 within 90 days of each other. Both incidents were related to workers becoming entangled in unguarded machinery.
Graham Lumber, a subsidiary of American Hardwood Industries, has headquarters in Waynesboro, Virginia, and produces hardwood lumber for the flooring industry. The company employs approximately 26 workers at the Fulton mill and 400 employees nationwide. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission. Proposed penalties total $75,610.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, fatal work injuries in Mississippi accounted for 64 of the 4,405 fatal work* injuries reported nationally in 2013. Additional details are available at http://www.bls.gov.
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 Jackson Area Office at 601-965-4606.
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.
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