OSHA Investigation – Fatal Accident at Nebraska Recycling Company

by | Aug 7, 2022 | Industrial Accident, Wrongful Death

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has completed its investigation into the February 7, 2022 accident involving a worker at Mid-Nebraska Disposal Inc. of Grand Island, Nebraska.  During the incident, a worker attempted to clear a jam in a baling machine.  The worker fell into the machine while doing this, and sustained multiple amputation injuries.  The worker died the next day.

The OSHA investigation determined that the company “disregarded federal regulations designed to prevent such tragedies”. Following the investigation, OSHA issued multiple citations, for violations of the below federal guidelines, including two which were considered willful and fifteen serious violations:

  • 29 CFR 191 0.22( a)( 1 ): The employer did not ensure that all places of employment, passageways, storerooms, service rooms, and walking-working surfaces are kept in a clean, orderly, and sanitary condition.
  • 29 CFR 1910.141 ( a)(5): A continuing, and effective extermination program was not instituted where rodents, insects or other vermin were detected.
  • Except as provided elsewhere in this section, the employer must ensure that each employee on a walking-working surface with an unprotected side or edge that is 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above a lower level is protected from falling by one or more of items outlined in (A), (B) or (C).
  • 29 CFR 1910.146(c)(2): The employer did not inform exposed employees, by posting danger signs or by any other equally effective means, of the existence and location of and the danger posed by the permit spaces.
  • 29 CFR 1910.146(c)(4): When the employer decided that its employees would enter permit spaces, the employer did not develop and implement a written permit space entry program that complied with 29 CFR 1910.146.
  • 29 CFR 1910.146(d)(2): Under the permit-required confined space program required by 29 CFR 1910.146(c)(4), the employer did not identify and evaluate the hazards of permit spaces before employees entered.
  • 29 CFR 1910.146(d)(4): The employer did not provide the equipment specified in paragraphs (d)(4)(i)-(d)(4)(ix) of this section at no cost to employees, did not maintain that equipment properly, and/or did not ensure that employees use that equipment properly.
  • 29 CFR 1910.146(d)(9): The employer did not develop and implement procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services, for rescuing entrants from permit spaces, for providing necessary emergency services to rescued employees, and/or for preventing unauthorized entry.
  • 29 CFR 1910.146(g)(l): The employer did not provide training so that all employees whose work was regulated by 29 CFR 1910.146 (permit required confined spaces) acquired the understanding, knowledge, and skills necessary for the safe performance of the duties assigned under 29 CFR 1910.146.
  • 29 CFR 1910.14 7( c)( 4)(i): Procedures were not developed, documented and utilized for the control of potentially hazardous energy when employees were engaged in activities covered by this section.
  • 29 CFR 1910.147(c)(7)(i): The employer did not provide adequate training to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program was understood by employees.
  • 29 CFR 1910.147(d)(4)(i): Lockout or tagout devices were not affixed to each energy isolating device by authorized employees.

As a result of the findings, OSHA recommended fines totaling $337,903.00.

It goes without saying that safe companies must have adequate policies and procedures to protect their workers.  It is more than merely having a written down procedure, companies must ensure that their workers understand and follow what has been developed.  This company should have had adequate procedures to ensure this incident never occurred.

One of the means to ensure incidents like this do not happen is through lockout/tagout procedures to control the release of hazardous energy.  OSHA provides guidelines in how to implement a lockout/tagout procedure.  Here, a worker tragically lost their life as a result of the failures found in the OSHA investigation.

OSHA has previously warned about risks to workers when hazardous energy is not controlled:

Workers servicing or maintaining machines or equipment may be seriously injured or killed if hazardous energy is not properly controlled. Injuries resulting from the failure to control hazardous energy during maintenance activities can be serious or fatal Injuries may include electrocution, burns, crushing, cutting, lacerating, amputating, or fracturing body parts, and others.

Our experienced lawyers have handled personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits of all kinds and have the skills needed to represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives or those who have been seriously injured due to the actions of a company.  The experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of an industrial accident.

Our lawyers have represented numerous workers who have sustained serious and catastrophic injuries on a job site as a result of the negligence of another party.  There are strict and short time limits on making claims, so please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or to learn more about your legal rights.