South Dakota Wheat Growers Assoc. Fined $1.6M After Fatality

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined the South Dakota Wheat Growers Association of Aberdeen, S.D., more than $1.6 million following the Dec. 22, 2009, death of a worker at the company’s McLaughlin, S.D., grain handling operation.

The worker suffocated after being engulfed by grain in one of the facility’s bins. OSHA’s investigation found that five additional workers were also at risk of being engulfed when they were sent into the bin to dig the victim out.

OSHA proposed $1,610,000 in fines for 23 alleged willful violations of the grain handling and confined space standards, including:     
    - Failing to prohibit workers from walking on top of clumped grain;
    - Failing to prohibit entry into the grain bins where the buildup of grain existed;
    - Failing to shut off and lock out equipment to prevent grain from moving through the bin while workers were inside;
    - Failing to equip workers with grain engulfment protection;
    - Failing to provide observers equipped to provide assistance;
    - Failing to train workers;
    - Failing to issue permits to control entry into grain bins;
    - Failing to test the atmosphere;
    - A lack of rescue equipment;
    - And failing to implement an emergency action plan prior to entry.

The death in South Dakota follows a similar May 2009 death of a 17-year old employee of Tempel Grain LLP in Haswell, CO. That worker also suffocated after being engulfed by grain. OSHA issued $1,592,500 in fines for 22 alleged willful and 13 alleged serious violations in that case.

OSHA has implemented a regional emphasis inspection program in the grain handling industry to address the serious hazards associated with grain bins and confined spaces, and operators and industry associations have been sent letters announcing the program. OSHA’s area offices covering Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota are also providing assistance to help grain storage facilities comply with safety standards.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of all OSHA citations to pay the penalties, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Source: OSHA
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Study Proves Four-person Fire Crews Faster

Monday, May 10, 2010

The first study to quantify the effects of crew sizes and arrival times on lifesaving and firefighting operations…

The International Association of Fire Chiefs and the International Association of Fire Fighters hailed a major study released April 28 that showed four-person firefighting crews completed 22 key tasks at a single-family residential fire 30 percent faster than two-person crews and 25 percent faster than three-person crews.

The study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a Commerce Department agency, indicated four-person crews put water on the fire faster, completed laddering and ventilation faster, and finished a primary search and rescue of a non-ambulatory person from an upstairs bedroom faster. “The results from this rigorous scientific study on the most common and deadly fires in the country –- those in single-family residences -– provide quantitative data to fire chiefs and public officials responsible for determining safe staffing levels, station locations, and appropriate funding for community and fire fighter safety,” Harold A. Schaitberger, IAFF’s general president, wrote on the union’s Frontline blog. “This study comes at a crucial time for the fire service. Public officials considering resource cuts cannot ignore the results of this unbiased study,” he added.

“Fire risks grow exponentially. Each minute of delay is critical to the safety of the occupants and firefighters and is directly related to property damage,” said Jason Averill, a principal investigator on the study who leads NIST’s Engineered Fire Safety Group within its Building and Fire Research Laboratory.

Reprinted from: Occupational Health & Safety
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Useful in Haiti

Monday, May 03, 2010

“Please pass a copy of this attached letter to Ish Antonio and Josh. My team and myself used the training that they taught us in confined space/collapsed structure and rope rescue in our recent deployment to Haiti. Their instruction and scenarios they set up in their course helped more than I can say."

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