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Texas sawmill fined by OSHA after workplace death

When fatal accidents occur at a workplace, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is often called to the scene to investigate for safety hazards that may have contributed to the accident and continue to be putting workers in danger. If safety hazards are found, the employer often faces serious fines.

Earlier this month, it was reported that a Texas sawmill has been cited with numerous safety violations by OSHA following an inspection after a fatal workplace accident. The workplace fatality occurred in December 2012 when a worker was struck and killed by a broken band saw blade.

OSHA inspectors determined that safety hazards contributed to the accident, and that other workers at the sawmill were put in danger by additional hazards. OSHA cited Nix Forest Industries Inc. of Timpson, Texas, with 17 safety and health violations, including one willful violation. The proposed penalties associated with the citations amount to $116,200.

The wilful violation, which OSHA defines as one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for OSHA's safety requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health, resulted from the company's failure to impose control procedures for hazardous energy when workers were performing routine maintenance on machinery.

The other 14 serious violations, which OSHA defines as hazard that carries a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, about which the employer knew or should have known, included many other dangerous conditions that were found in the workplace, including improperly guarded machines.

The company was also cited with a health violation for exposure to occupational noise and an other-than-serious violation for failing to make sure that an OSHA 300A injury and illness form was properly certified.

At this point, it is unknown if the company is also facing a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of the worker who was killed on the job, but it is certainly a possibility.

Source: OSHA Regional News Release, "Timpson, Texas, sawmill cited by US Department of Labor's OSHA for violations after a worker was killed, other workers exposed to many hazards," June 5, 2013

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