- Rockford, IL-based Behr Iron & Metal has pleaded guilty to OSHA violations, including failure to provide a required emergency shut-off system that resulted in the death of an employee after his arm got stuck in a moving conveyor belt. He was pulled into the machinery as he was cleaning it at the metal scrap processor’s South Beloit facility, according to Recycling Today.
- The company admitted there was no lock, working emergency shut-off, or protective guards for the conveyor belt. The company also said it had not trained employees on the equipment’s use nor had it implemented confined space protection for workers in the discharge pit.
- Behr could receive five years’ probation and pay up to a $500,000 fine as well as restitution to the victim’s family for an amount to be set by the court. Further OSHA also deemed the company’s safety training to be insufficient. Sentencing is scheduled for July 12, 2016.
OSHA requires employers to adopt safety procedures tied to machinery operation, including shutting the equipment down and ensuring it stays shut down until workers have completed servicing it. The power source needs a lock tagged with a warning that the machine cannot be used while that warning is displayed.
Having adequate equipment and training on that equipment go hand in hand as this case and others have demonstrated. Just months ago, a New York recycling company faced OSHA fines for the preventable injuries of three workers when the power went out — reflecting a similar situation at Behr, with failure to lock-out machines' power sources.
Behr has admitted its company's failures to provide the proper safety precautions, resulting in the death of one man.
"Justice cannot restore life to the victim whose body was crushed because Behr Iron and Steel failed to provide protection from dangerous machinery on the job," said Ken Nishiyama Atha, regional administrator of OSHA in Chicago, as reported in Recycling Today. "Behr must be held responsible by the courts for ignoring safety standards and failing in its obligation to protect its workers on the job."