MOBILE, AL – On Jan. 27, a 22-year-old apprentice atop a crane bridge 30 feet in the air suffered fatal injuries when he became caught in a crane trolley’s drive shaft, a tragedy that federal inspectors say could have been prevented.
The Alabama resident, part of a five-man team employed by SPI/Mobile Pulley Works Inc. to repair a 50-ton hoist, was guiding a heavy steel cable onto a hoist drum when the incident occurred. Inspectors with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined the employer failed to ensure workers were removed from the structure of the crane, or otherwise out of the path of moving components while the crane was in operation.
OSHA’s inspection led to 11 serious and two other-than-serious violations for the Mobile-based dredging equipment manufacturer. Inspectors found the company failed to provide a workplace free from hazards and exposed them to caught-in and crushed-by hazards that would likely cause death or serious physical harm. OSHA also identified the following violations:
- Allowed employees to work near unguarded equipment, which exposed them to struck-by and caught-in hazards.
- Failed to conduct periodic inspections of the crane.
- Exposed workers to respiratory hazards by requiring employees to wear half-mask negative pressure respirators without proper fit tests, and did not provide training on respirator use to minimize the number of employees exposed to respirable crystalline silica.
- Failed to provide proper training on fall protection systems, exposing workers to fall hazards.
- Failed to inspect alloy steel chain slings used for rigging.
OSHA proposed $89,141 in penalties.
“Heavy industrial work can be hazardous and employers must follow workplace safety standards to avoid serious injuries and, in this case, tragedy,” said OSHA Area Director Jose A. Gonzalez in Mobile, Alabama. “The terrible loss for this young man’s family and friends is deepened by the knowledge that this incident could have been prevented.”
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.