OSHA Cites Grain Storage Company for 35 Safety Violations, Over $100,000 in Fines Proposed

Monday, April 6, 2009
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Victoria-Calhoun Grain Co., following a worker's fatality, with three alleged willful and 32 serious violations of safety standards at the company's facility in Placedo.

"Employers must ensure employees are fully trained and protected from all hazardous conditions in and around grain storage units," said Michael Rivera, OSHA's area director in Corpus Christi, Texas. "In this case, the employee was walking on top of the grain using a pole to loosen it. When the grain collapsed beneath him, he became engulfed and suffocated."

OSHA's Corpus Christi Area Office began its investigation Oct. 1, 2008, at the company's facility on Main Street in Placedo. The investigation found willful violations including failing to provide lockout/tagout safeguards during confined space entry and failing to provide workers with personal protective equipment. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Serious violations include failing to train employees about hazardous conditions associated with grain storage facilities and confined space entry, to ensure that floor openings holes were properly guarded and to implement a respiratory protection program. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Victoria-Calhoun Grain, which employs about 25 workers at its Placedo location, is an agricultural storage facility engaged in buying, receiving and marketing grain, such as corn, sorghum and oats, from farmers.

OSHA has proposed $109,050 in penalties against the company for the safety violations. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Corpus Christi or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Corpus Christi employers and employees with questions about safety and health can call 361-888-3420. They can also use OSHA's hotline number at 800-321-6742 to report workplace accidents, fatalities or imminent dangers.
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