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OSHA Finds Death of Worker Result of Sawmill’s Failure to Follow Safety Standards

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July 27, 2011

A New York sawmill has been cited for alleged serious violations of workplace safety standards and fined $152,100 by government safety inspectors following an investigation of a worker killed by a saw.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) started an investigation after receiving a report that 35-year-old Thomas Pelton, of Camden, NY, died on the job at B&B Lumber in Jamesville on February 7, 2011. Pelton was changing the blades on an edging saw when another employee inadvertently started the saw, killing him.

The agency found that Pelton’s death could have been avoided had B&B Lumber followed OSHA’s hazardous energy control standard.

Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout or LOTO) is a practice requiring machines be turned off and the power source locked out before an employee performs maintenance on the machine. Lockout/Tagout protects employees from injuries that could occur if the machine unintentionally resumed operation during such maintenance.

“This is exactly the type of needless and devastating occurrence that the hazardous energy control standard is designed to prevent,” said Christopher Adams, OSHA’s area director in Syracuse. “One unintended or unknowing turn of a machine’s ‘on’ switch can end a worker’s life in seconds. That’s why effective lockout/tagout safeguards must be implemented and maintained at all times.”

OSHA found other unrelated hazardous working conditions at the mill that exposed workers to hazards of falls, electrocution, lacerations, amputation, being caught in moving machine parts and being unable to exit the workplace swiftly in the event of an emergency.

The agency cited B&B Lumber for 35 serious safety violations and levied a fine of $152,100.

“We’ve cooperated completely with OSHA on abating all of the issues they bring to our attention,” Brigham Booher, part owner and treasurer of B&B Lumber told Syracuse.com.

Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York, stressed the importance of employers establishing an injury and illness prevention program in which employees and management work together to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions in the workplace.

The company has 15 business days to contest or comply with the findings.

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  1. Tim Hughes says:
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    Another sad case of an avoidable accident. With training and an effective lockout tagout system, all at very small time and monetary cost, this workers’ death could have been prevented.