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OSHA Proposes $92K Fine in Lift Death

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

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Joseph Schaff

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 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.


Tagged categories: Fatalities; Health and safety; OSHA

Comment from Jerry LeCompte, (1/3/2011, 11:27 AM)

The accidental loss of life and serious injury on the job is tragic. However, such matters are systematically designated the fault of the owners/management of the company regardless of real evidence of intended neglect. So, I will say again that our government is legislating our country out of business and has been doing so for decades. The result is that jobs are going to other nations that don't have laws effecting businesses at every level of government as we do here in America. The result is the translocation of jobs, especially in the manufacturing and basic industrial businesses. We either must accept the job losses and its effects on our economy or seek ways to deal with legislated costs through our governmental agencies and legislative bodies. Jerry LeCompte

Comment from jerry baxter, (1/3/2011, 10:41 PM)

I agree with you ,Jerry. OSHA has to much power. Employers make jobs. Jobs are what we need. The intent of OSHA is help to provide safety in our work place. But OSHA never uses common sense. Its always the employers fault, weather the employer had any intent to violate a regulation, or not. Example:You give a employee a safety harness to climb a tower, and he elects to take it off, against orders not to, and the employer is still at fault. Personally, my dealings with OSHA has gave me great concern. I have caught OSHA personell and a civil service inspector, planning to use OSHA to sit on one of my contracts, and write anything he can makeup in an effort to bankrupt my company. I have also, had OSHA reps visit a jobsite, and try to talk the military Contracting Officer, in helping them to find something wrong on my another jobsites. They could speak very little english. Ofcourse , the CO would not. In fact he advised them to stay off this base, unless they are ok'd by him to return to the base or to my jobsite. The intent of creating OSHA may have started out to be a good thing. But OSHA has became a tool for the government to force its will on the american employers and employees.

Comment from Jerry LeCompte, (1/4/2011, 11:13 AM)

I have never met another employer who was not concerned with worker safety. However the government has created a mess of red tape that has become counter productive to reason. Compliance with all rules of government bodies is impossible for small businesses. To Jerry Baxter...I understand. They can beat you down. Jerry LeCompte

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