Forklift Fatality Leads OSHA to Other Potentially Fatal Mistakes

Oct. 24, 2013
National Pipe and Plastics was also cited for combustible dust and for plant infrastructure problems.

A truck driver was fatally struck by a forklift operated by an employee of National Pipe and Plastics Inc., at the company’s plant in Vestal, near Syracuse, N.Y. The company was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which found 16 serious violations of workplace health and safety standards after the March 22 incident.

OSHA inspectors determined that two of the 16 violations found following the inspection related to the truck driver's death; the truck driver was picking up a load of pipes at the plant. Inspectors found that the forklift had an inoperative backup alarm, and the forklift driver did not have a clear view of the travel path.

"Establishing safety protocols to address foot traffic in these areas would have helped prevent this tragic incident,” said Chris Adams, OSHA's area director for Syracuse. “National Pipe should have maintained equipment properly, such as the forklift's backup alarm, and ensured forklift operators maintained focus on their path of direction. This company must comply with OSHA standards and implement these safety protocols."

OSHA inspectors found additional serious health and safety violations, including failure to maintain surfaces free of combustible dust, maintain fixed stairs at the proper angle, provide handrails on exposed sides of stairways and provide portable metal ladders with slip-resistant rungs. A serious violation occurs 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.

"One means of preventing accidents and injuries is through an effective safety and health management system where employers and employees work together to evaluate, identify and eliminate hazards proactively," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

The total proposed penalties are $67,000. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with the OSHA area director, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Syracuse Area Office.

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