A worker was fatally injured after being struck-by a front-end loader hauling hay at Double Dutch Dairy in Shelby, Neb., on June 17, 2014. OSHA has cited the company for four serious safety violations after an inspection found that the driver's view was obstructed.
"This was a horrible and senseless tragedy. No worker should ever lose their life because they did not receive adequate training or protection," said Bonita Winingham, OSHA's area director in Omaha. "Latino workers take some of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in America and are injured on the job at higher rates than other workers. Last year, on average, two Latino workers were fatally injured each day. This worker should not have been part of that statistic."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 797 Hispanic workers suffered fatal work-related injuries in 2013. This year in Nebraska, three Latino workers have lost their lives so far.
OSHA's investigation found employees were exposed to struck-by hazards and they were neither trained in safe equipment operation nor required to use seat belt restraints. The company failed to develop, implement and maintain a written hazard communication program to train workers about hazardous chemicals used in the workplace and necessary safety precautions when handling them.
OSHA has proposed fines of $22,500 for the four serious violations. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known existed.
OSHA has a regional outreach initiative in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska to educate workers and their employers to prevent struck-by incidents, which often involve a vehicle hitting a pedestrian outside the driver's field of vision. In the past five years, 15 percent of all workplace fatalities investigated by OSHA in these states have been caused by these hazards. Struck-by prevention strategies include ensuring backup alarms are functional; walking around a vehicle before operating it; staying alert; obeying all traffic rules and signs; minimizing distractions; inspecting and maintaining vehicles; using seat belts; and turning on headlights. In addition, training can help both drivers and pedestrian workers understand vehicle limitations and obstructions to avoid hazards.
Double Dutch Dairy is based in Cedar Grove, Wis., and also operates a dairy in Rising City, Neb.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.