Foundry Worker's Fatal Injury Leads to OSHA Citations, Penalties

July 10, 2003

Fatal injuries sustained by a foundry worker at Grede Foundries, Inc., Milwaukee Steel Foundry, Milwaukee, might have been avoided if safety procedures for abrasive grinding machinery had been followed, according to OSHA. OSHA has proposed a $156,500 fine.

The agency opened an inspection of the foundry following the Jan. 7, 2003 accident that occurred when an abrasive wheel on a stand grinder exploded, propelling fragments that struck the grinder operator. The wheel guard was unable to contain the fragments from the 30 inch by 2 inch abrasive wheel.

As a result of that investigation, OSHA has proposed willful and serious citations alleging the lack of a preventative maintenance program, failure to ensure the grinder was running at an appropriate speed within the grinding wheel tolerance, and issues involving machine guarding and other adjustments to the machine.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to appeal before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA Offers Tips for Working in Hot Weather

The sun and warm weather of summer can also bring special hazards for those working outdoors. To help employers and workers stay safe throughout the summer months, OSHA offers tips that can help prevent many heat-related deaths, illnesses, and injuries.

The combination of heat, humidity and physical labor can lead to fatalities. The two most serious forms of heat related illnesses are heat exhaustion (primarily from dehydration) and heat stroke, which could be fatal. Signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke need immediate attention. Recognizing those warning signs and taking quick action can make a difference in preventing a fatality.

 The fact sheet also offers links for teenagers working at summer jobs.

Available in English and Spanish, this laminated fold-up card is free to employers to distribute to their workers. It offers a quick reference about heat-related injuries, including warning signs, symptoms and early treatment.

The card, available in English and Spanish, also describes common physical features of skin cancer that can be caused by exposure to the sun.



OSHA Offers Employers Tools to Recognize and Eliminate Occupational Electrical Hazards

Electrical work can be hazardous, and accidents involving electrical work can often be fatal. OSHA investigated 46 worker fatalities involving electrical hazards in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi between Oct. 1, 2001 and Sept. 30, 2002.

OSHA wants to help employers keep workers safe and healthy. Agency offices in the Southeast are offering a free "Electrical Outreach" compact disc to assist employers in preventing worker exposure to the hazards commonly found in performing electrical work.

Along with training presentations and Internet links, the CD contains actual photographs of various electrical hazards, discusses the OSHA regulations that are related to the depicted hazards, and provides information about how to remove or correct hazards before an employee is injured.

Because 23 of the 46 fatalities involved workers coming in contact with overhead electrical power lines, the agency has also developed a regional emphasis program to address potential hazards at these worksites.

As part of this effort to reduce worker fatalities, investigators will address electrical hazards during inspections at other worksites and distribute special outreach materials where electrical hazards could potentially be encountered.

Six of the 46 fatalities involved workers who were exposed to electrical hazards as they installed plumbing, heating and air-conditioning units or cables. Federal OSHA offices in the Southeast are mailing advisory letters to cable installing, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning companies advising them of electrical hazards associated with their industries.

For more information or to obtain copies of the electrical safety material, contact a local OSHA office listed in the government section of the phone book or call the Atlanta regional office at (404) 562-2300.

OSHA Makes Publications Easy to Find

You can now order many of OSHA's best publications from a single web page, which includes fact sheets, posters, compliance guides, and forms. Most publications can either be downloaded or print versions can be ordered for free mail delivery. 

OSHA Honors Women for Life Saving Efforts

When billboard poster worker Isaac Lesman of LaSalle, Ill., responded to a dispatch requiring him to change a billboard in Peru, Ill., he didn't know he was walking into a life threatening situation. Nor did he know that three strangers would save his life on July 15, 2002.

The Aurora, Ill. area office of OSHA has recognized the selfless efforts of Nancy Weberski, Rhonda Adamson and Jean Pfalsgraf, three women who found the 19-year old worker in a fight for his life and helped him pull through. OSHA recently presented the three with plaques honoring their efforts and commemorating the miraculous outcome.

On the day of the incident, Lesman was carrying an aluminum ladder to the job. He may never know whether the ladder actually touched an overhead power line - or merely came close enough for it to send a power surge through his body due to electrical arcing. Fortunately for him, passing motorist Weberski saw Lesman fall on the side of the road in the parking lot of a local church.

She stopped immediately to help and was soon joined by Adamson who searched unsuccessfully for a pulse for Lesman, who was not breathing, before initiating CPR. Moments later, Pfalsgraf, also a passing motorist, stopped to help and noted that Lesman was turning gray each time there was a pause in breathing. Pfalsgraf immediately started rescue breathing while Adamson and Weberski teamed to give compressions, telling the young man to fight for his life.

When paramedics arrived, the three had managed to keep Lesman alive, although his breathing had stopped at least twice. Paramedics defibrillated Lesman twice before transporting him to the hospital, where rescue workers were too busy keeping him alive to immediately notice the two small marks on either wrist, which were entrance wounds from electricity, nor the three-inch long gash on the left side of his right foot, the exit wound.

Despite physical and neurological damage, Lesman is well on his road to recovery one year after the accident. The tireless work of his mother, Karen Lesman, to help him overcome the severe consequences of his electrical shock and the immediate assistance of three caring strangers, along with Lesman's own spirit, have proven to surmount the obstacles.

Combustible Dust, Likely Ignited by a Malfunctioning Oven, Caused Fatal CTA Explosion

The explosion and fire at the CTA Acoustics plant in Corbin, KY, earlier this year was caused when combustible dust in the plant ignited, according to preliminary findings of investigators of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB).

The Feb. 20, 2003 accident took seven lives and caused over thirty injuries. The investigators presented their initial findings at a community meeting on July 8, 2003.

The investigation, which is not complete, so far has found the initial explosion and fire occurred on a production line that was partially shut down and being cleaned at the time of the incident. During the cleaning, a thick cloud of dust dispersed around the line. The dust was likely ignited by a fire that spread from the production line's oven, which was still operating, investigators said.

"The plant's four production lines had a history of small fires erupting in the ovens," said lead investigator Bill Hoyle. "Plant operators routinely put out these fires. However, during the cleaning operation, no one was present in the immediate area of the oven who could have detected a fire."

Dr. Gerald Poje, a CSB Board Member who presided at the meeting, said, "Dust explosions are a significant hazard in manufacturing operations. This accident happened only a few weeks after the terrible tragedy in Kinston, North Carolina, which was also caused by the ignition of dust in the plant and which claimed six lives. As the investigation proceeds and we begin to consider safety recommendations, we will be looking closely at the fact that OSHA has safety standards to prevent dust explosions in grain elevators, but not in other types of manufacturing facilities."

The CSB preliminary report to the community found that one or more oven doors on the production line where the incident began had been left open to cool down the oven because temperature controls had been malfunctioning for several days. Flames likely escaped from the oven door and ignited the dust cloud.

"The fire quickly spread over a wide area of the plant," according to Investigator Hoyle. "Dust that had accumulated on flat surfaces throughout the plant was disturbed and became airborne, providing more fuel for the fire. The initial explosion stirred up more dust and led to secondary explosions," Mr. Hoyle said.

The dust was composed primarily of phenolic resin, a raw material used in the production process. The resin is similar in consistency to talcum powder.

Mr. Hoyle said the next steps of the ongoing investigation will include reviewing hazard information provided by the resin supplier to the company, completing a review of company documents and programs, and reviewing the adequacy of existing regulations and guidance on dust explosion prevention.

European Publication on Musculoskeletal Disorders

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work has produced an excellent fact sheet on preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders.