Company fined $215,000 for one willful and six serious safety violations
Adrian, Missouri employer MFA Enterprises Inc. – operating as West Central Agri Services – has been cited for one willful and six serious safety violations, and proposed penalties of $215,525.
This is after one of its employees was seriously injured from an explosion in the workplace.
The charges stem from a Dec. 31, 2020 incident, which caused the destruction of the main elevator at an Adrian grain loading facility. The incident could have been prevented had the employer addressed potential dust ignition sources, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
An investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that the company failed to equip bucket elevators with monitoring devices that notify workers when a belt is slipping and potentially causing friction that could ignite grain dust. OSHA standards require these devices at grain handling facilities that have a storage capacity of over one million bushels.
OSHA also found the company had not updated its dust collection system since its installation in 1974. It also found that the company exposed workers to falls by willfully allowing them to walk atop railcars to open and close hatches without fall protection.
The company also failed to repair an overhead trolley system used for connecting fall protection devices, which, OSHA found, was out of service at the time of its investigation. OSHA also noted violations involving lack of preventive maintenance and a failure to designate hazardous areas.
In another incident, two firefighters were taken to area hospitals after responding to a fire at the Chemtool Plant in Rockton, Illinois – just weeks after federal investigators visited the site because of two health and safety complaints.
“West Central Agri Services failed to follow industry standards and create company policies for safe grain handling, and needlessly put their own workers in serious danger,” said Kimberly Stille, OSHA regional administrator, in Kansas City, Missouri. “Grain handling hazards can be avoided by using well-known safety measures that are proven to help prevent workers from being injured or killed.”
Previously, a Pennsylvania employer was sued for wrongful termination of one of its employees who raised safety concerns in the workplace.
Also, a U.S. Postal Service location in Hanover Township in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was charged $236,783 in fines after OSHA found that it exposed employees to potentially serious and fatal injuries in the event of an emergency.