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Feed mill explosion kills worker, leads to safety citation


A chicken feed mill and two contractors based in Georgia are facing a combined $112,600 in proposed penalties after a dust explosion killed a 25-year-old man and injured five people.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited JCG Farms of Alabama L.L.C., which does business as Koch Farms of Collinsville in Rockmart, Georgia, after determining that excessive accumulation of grain dust in the hammer mill area ignited the fatal explosion, the agency said Monday in a statement.

JGC, whose parent company is Chicago-based poultry producer Koch Foods Inc., was cited for 15 serious and five other-than-serious safety and health violations and is facing $107,000 in proposed fines from the agency. The cited hazards include exposing employees to fire and explosion hazards due to the buildup of combustible dust and failing to post warning signs about the risks and exposing employees to being caught in machinery and to electric shock hazards.

OSHA also issued a serious citation to Atlanta-based A to J Electrical Services, which was contracted to perform electrical, mechanical and maintenance work at the facility, for not informing workers of the fire and explosion hazards and proposed $2,800 in fines

The agency also issued citations to Cohutta, Georgia-based housekeeping company D. Sims Inc. for one serious and one other-than-serious violation for not training workers on common ignition sources for dust and failing to provide employees using disposable dust masks with information featured in the respirator standard and proposed $2,800 in fines.

“It is tragic that despite wide industry awareness of these hazards, that some employers remain unaware of the common hazards of combustible dust,” Christi Griffin, OSHA's area director in the Atlanta-West Office, said in the statement. “This incident and this man's death were preventable. JCG Farms needs to take a proactive approach in their safety and health program to assess the workplace for hazards and correct them to ensure worker safety.”

Spokespersons for Koch and A to J could not be immediately reached for comment, while the owner of D. Sims declined to comment.

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