|By Frances Fierst|
From: Munchweiler, Germany
Oct 6, 2009
This article says one death and $128,500 in fines.
OSHA finds safety flaws at MillerCoors in Golden
By Howard Pankratz
The Denver Post
08/03/2009 04:04:45 PM MDT
The U.S. Department of Labor today cited MillerCoors with 10 alleged safety violations following the death of one worker and injuries to two others in two accidents at the Golden plant earlier this year.
According to the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, investigations into the fatal Feb. 2 incident and into an April 9 accident that injured two revealed one alleged "willful" and nine alleged "serious" violations of OSHA's regulations governing electrical hazards.
OSHA alleged that workplace conditions contributed to two employees being burned by an electrical arc flash in April.
In addition, federal investigators allege that inadequate safety measures were in place to protect against electrical hazards at the time of the fatal February accident. However, OSHA said the Jefferson County coroner's office could not determine whether those conditions contributed to the final cause of death.
OSHA is proposing $128,500 in penalties for the alleged violations.
John Healy, OSHA area adminstrator, said that MillerCoors could have done more for their workers.
"They did not have a good program to protect their maintenance people from electrical hazards," said Healy. "It lacked proper procedures and lacked the proper protective equipment."
Healy, a 34-year OSHA veteran, said MillerCoors "has been very cooperative throughout the investigation. But they did have dangerous conditions and they are going to have to take the necessary steps to fix that - to eliminate these threats in the future."
In a statement, MillerCoors said it has cooperated with OSHA throughout the investigations.
"We take safety very seriously at MillerCoors and regard a safe and healthy workplace as integral to our company's success," said the statement. "Throughout their entire investigation, we have cooperated with the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and we will continue to work with the agency to respond to the findings in their citation."
The brewer has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or contest the findings.
"Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the worker who died as well as the two injured workers," said Greg Baxter, OSHA's regional administrator in Denver.
"At the time of both accidents, the company's procedures for dealing with electrical hazards were inadequate. MillerCoors needs to take the necessary steps to eliminate electrical hazards in its workplaces."
Killed in the Feb. 2 accident was William Leahy, an electrician at the MillerCoors plant in Golden and a 30-year employee of Coors.
OSHA said the "willful violation" stems from the company's alleged failure to ensure the use of appropriate electrical protective equipment when employees were working on, or near, energized electrical parts.
The agency said it issues a "willful violation" when an employer exhibits plain indifference to, or intentional disregard, for employee safety and health.
In the case of the incident involving Leahy, OSHA alleged that MillerCoors did not at the time of his death, or prior to it, ensure that appropriate protective equipment was used by employees for work on, or near, energized parts generating between 50 and 480 volts. Such equipment, said OSHA, includes voltage-rated gloves, voltage-rated hard hats and arc-rated personal protective equipment, such as an arc flash hood or an arc-rated face shield with an arc-rated sock hood.
Also in connection with the Leahy incident, OSHA said that conductive articles were worn that could contact energized parts, including, but not limited to, metal key rings with keys, ear muffs with a metal frame and a personal MP3 device.
The "serious violations" relate to inadequate safe work practices and failure to ensure that adequate personal protective equipment was both available and used by employees working on or near energized equipment.
The agency said it issues the "serious" citations when death or physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
In the April 9 accident, where two workers were injured, OSHA said MillerCoors employees were exposed to injury while working on electrical-distribution systems because MillerCoors "did not ensure that adequate protective equipment was available and used for employee protection from hazards associated with arc flash, arc blast and shock."
Howard Pankratz: 303-954-1939 or email@example.com