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OSHA Fines Animal Feed Site $101K for Grain Dust Explosion Risk, Other Hazards

October 27, 2016

A Nebraska animal feed company was cited for 25 serious and one other-than-serious workplace safety violations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Oct. 26 after an agency investigation revealed the company exposed workers to the risk of grain dust explosion and numerous other safety hazards.

OSHA proposed penalties of $101,898 for the York, NE facility of Nutrition Services based on the findings of its July 2016 investigation. The agency said the company did not protect workers from grain dust explosion, electrical shock, and confined space hazards and violated a number of grain handling safety standards.

“Two Nebraska workers have lost their lives in 2016 in the grain handling industry and far too many preventable fatalities and injuries continue to occur,” OSHA’s area director in Omaha, NE, Jeff Funke, said in a statement. “OSHA’s grain-handling standards address the numerous serious and life-threatening hazards commonly found in grain bins by training workers in these hazards, and, by following recommended safety procedures, employers can prevent injuries.”

The agency’s investigation determined that Nutrition Services did not:

- Implement a confined space program, practice safe entry operations and train workers.
- Test atmospheric conditions in grain bins before allowing workers to enter.
- Remove accumulations of grain dust and potential initial sources, exposing workers to the risk of grain dust explosion.
- Guard live electrical parts.
- Implement procedures to prevent sudden machine start-up or unintentional operation, a process known as lockout/tagout.
- Install adequate machine guarding to avoid contact with moving parts.
- Perform preventative maintenance of equipment.
- Develop a hazard communication program to train workers about the presence and use of hazardous chemicals in the facility.
- Train workers on grain handling hazards.

The company has 15 business days from Oct. 26 to pay the proposed fine, request a conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the agency’s findings before an independent body, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.