On Oct. 18, 2013, laborer Edward M. Ulicne and a foreman were inspecting the inside of a vacuum tank on an industrial vacuum truck at paving contractor K. Dolan Corp's Blairsville facility. Operating the hydraulic controls to the rear door of the tank, the foreman closed the rear door, pinning Ulicne between the door and frame of the tank. He died from his injuries on Oct. 22. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated an inspection of the company following the incident, and cited 17 safety violations, including nine serious violations.
"This was a terrible, preventable tragedy that underscores the importance of following OSHA's standards to control hazardous energy by implementing a lockout program to protect workers who service or maintain machines," said Christopher Robinson, director of OSHA's Pittsburgh Area Office. "Employers must ensure that workers are protected from hazards and that procedures are in place to prevent senseless injury or death."
The nine serious violations included K. Dolan Corp.'s failure to: establish a lockout/tagout program and procedures to protect workers from moving parts of a machine during servicing and/or maintenance activities; properly guard floor holes; evaluate the vacuum truck to determine if a permit required confined space before employees entered it; train employees expected to use a portable fire extinguisher to fight an incipient stage fire; train employees on the safe operation of an industrial forklift; and anchor a pedestal drill press to the floor. 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.
Eight other-than-serious citations were also cited, and included: the employer's failure to report the death of a worker; the workplace not being evaluated to determine if hazards were present and necessitated the use of personal protective equipment; and the continued use of a defective forklift despite it not being in safe operating condition. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
OSHA's lockout/tagout interactive training program provides an in-depth understanding of the lockout/tagout standard.
Proposed penalties total $23,800. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Pittsburgh, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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 Pittsburgh Area Office at 412-395-4903.
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.