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OSHA cites Nebraska company for worker injuries during maintenance operations

OSHA cites Nebraska company for worker injuries during maintenance operations
OSHA cites Nebraska company for worker injuries during maintenance operations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a part of the U.S. Department of Labor, announced on March 4 that it had cited Henningsen Foods Inc. with seven alleged safety violations, which were uncovered during an inspection following an incident that left two employees badly burned. 

OSHA noted that the inspection was ordered after two workers suffered severe burns during an OSHA maintenance project on one of the company's gas vaporizers at a facility in Norfolk, Nebraska. The inspection was a part of OSHA's Site Specific Targeting Program, which entails focusing on industries that traditionally have a high rate of worker injury or illness. 

The proposed fines for the alleged violations come out to $45,000. 

"Companies, such as Henningsen Foods, have a responsibility to ensure their workers are properly trained to use equipment safely that is necessary to perform their jobs," said Bonita Winingham, OSHA's area director in Omaha. "When companies demonstrate a higher than average rate of injury and illness, they need to review and improve their safety and health programs, while also training their workers."

The company was hit with a repeat violation for not re-certifying its fleet of powered industrial vehicles every three years. Repeat violations can be especially detrimental to firms, and are issued 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," according to OSHA. 

The last time such an incident occurred was in 2008. 

Six other serious violations were issued to the company, which included failing to ensure the workers performing the maintenance were well trained in direct fired liquid petroleum gas vaporizers, confined space violations, failure to conduct and document reviews of lockout/tagout procedures and unguarded machinery violations.

These serious violations were issued because of the "substantial probability" that the broken rules could lead to worker death or injury. 

OSHA has drafted several rules regarding forklift maintenance, as workers are exposed to many hazards, including chemicals that can cause irritation, sensitization and carcinogenicity. Using maintenance management software to keep track of all fleet repairs can reduce the duration of an OSHA inspection, minimizing costly downtime. 

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