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The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has cited an agricultural employer and a farm labor contractor more than $100,000 combined in proposed penalties after a worker was fatally crushed by a bin dumper at a walnut processing and packing facility in Los Molinos, California, the division announced Thursday.
On Oct. 6, 2018, forklift operators at the Crain Walnut Shelling Inc. plant were filling bins with walnuts, which were then dumped into a hopper for processing. A temporary worker for Cal North Farm Labor Inc. was instructed to clean the area around the equipment. The worker was under an 800-pound bin dumper when it emptied its load and automatically lowered to the ground, crushing him, according to a statement.
Cal/OSHA’s investigation determined the employer did not evaluate workplace hazards and the worker did not receive safety training from Crain Walnut Shelling or Fresno-based Cal North Farm Labor Inc. before being assigned to clean concrete and machinery at the walnut processing facility, the statement reads.
“Working near large moving parts of equipment and machinery can be deadly,” Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum said in the statement. “Employers must identify and evaluate workplace hazards and unsafe conditions and provide effective training to employees before they begin a new job assignment.”
Investigators found that Crain Walnut Shelling failed to ensure that the walnut bin dumper they designed included proper machine guards or lockout/tagout procedures to protect workers who maintain the machinery. Crain also failed to provide an extension tool for cleaning the area, which would have significantly minimized potential crushing hazards. Cal/OSHA identified four serious violations and issued four citations with proposed penalties totaling $67,500, according to the statement.
Citations and fines totaling $33,750 were also issued to Cal North Farm Labor for their failure to ensure that workers are trained on hazards related to cleaning and servicing around the bin dumper, according to the statement.
The companies could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has unanimously affirmed a general duty clause citation and a $6,300 penalty against a cargo handling company whose employee was struck by a forklift and died from his injuries in yet another test of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s use of the clause to cite employers.