The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued five citations and proposed $92,000 in penalties against LM Wind Power Blades Inc. of Grand Forks, ND, for fall and crushing hazards that took the life of a worker in July.
OSHA's Bismarck Area Office began an investigation July 1 into the death of Joseph Francis Schaff, 42, of East Grand Forks, ND. Schaff was working from a scissor lift when he was crushed by a nearby crane. He was married and had two sons.
The employer was issued one willful, one other-than-serious and three serious citations. The company, formerly known as LM Glasfiber Inc., is the world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbine blades.
A Life ‘Needlessly Lost’
"A worker's life was needlessly lost because the employer failed to identify and eliminate the hazards prior to allowing this employee to perform the work," said Tom Deutscher, OSHA's area office director in Bismarck. "It's critical for employers to assess conditions before letting work begin."
A spokeswoman for LM Wind Power Blades’ parent company, LM Wind Power, declined to comment Wednesday (Dec. 29), noting that the company had 15 days to respond to the citations.
A regional OSHA official told GrandForksHerald.com that the company had been cooperating in the investigation and was addressing the problems that led to the accident. The facility has no other record with OSHA dating back to at least 2000.
Crushing, Lift Hazards
The alleged willful violation is for failing to ensure employees were adequately protected against struck-by and/or crushing hazards from a nearby crane.
The three serious violations involve allegedly failing to use a body belt while on an aerial lift, climbing the guardrails of a scissor lift without fall protection, and failing to safely position cranes for maintenance operations.
The other-than-serious violation is for allegedly failing to provide adequate warning or "out-of-order" signs.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or plain indifference to worker safety and health. A serious citation means that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. An other-than-serious violation is one that is related to job safety and health but that would not directly cause death or serious physical harm.