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Tank Company Cited in Worker’s Death

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

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A Mississippi propane tank maker faces 19 federal safety citations and nearly $47,000 in fines in the death of a worker who was ejected and crushed by a rough-terrain forklift he was operating.

Quality Steel Corp., of Cleveland, MS, plans to meet Friday (April 8) in an informal conference with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to review the violations, a company spokesman said Wednesday (April 6). He declined further comment.

Deadly Load Shift

OSHA's inspection followed the death of Robert Mason, 34, who was killed Oct. 16, 2010. Mason was driving a rough-terrain forklift when the weight on the load shifted and the equipment became unbalanced, rolled over and crushed him.

Initial reports described the equipment as a crane, but an OSHA spokesman said it was a rough-terrain forklift with extender.

"Operating a powered industrial truck can quickly turn deadly when a load shifts unexpectedly," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's area director in Jackson. "Employers must ensure operators are utilizing seat belts to protect them from harm that can result in tragedies such as this one."

14 Serious Citations

OSHA cited the company with one serious safety violation in Mason’s death, for failing to ensure that he was wearing a seatbelt. Wearing a seatbelt was a written company requirement, an OSHA spokesman said. The citation was issued because the company had not followed its own safety rule. No malfunction was found in the equipment.

 Quality Steel Corp.

 Quality Steel Corp.

Quality Steel is one of four American tank manufacturers in business today.

In addition, OSHA issued 13 citations unrelated to the accident, including:

• Failing to have an adequate lockout/tagout program and procedures regarding energy sources;

• Not conducting required inspections on lifting equipment;

• Lack of machine guarding on rotating shaft and inclined belts;

• Not ensuring proper installation of electrical equipment;

• Allowing forklift modifications that were not approved by the manufacturer; and

• Not correctly identifying electrical branch circuits.

Five other-than-serious safety citations were issued for:

• Stairs lacking standard rails;

• Allowing welders not to wear a shade filter lens;

• Not capping compressed gas cylinders;

• Blocking access to a disconnect switch and outlets; and

• Damaged electrical cords.

A serious violation reflects a substantial probability of death or serious harm from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Other-than-serious violations are those that probably would not cause death or serious harm.

Proposed penalties for the citations total $46,935.

Quality Steel Corp. is a second-generation, family-owned company founded in 1957. At its founding, it was one of more than 50 tank manufacturers in the United States. Today, the company says, it is one of four.

The company has no other OSHA record.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Fatalities; Health and safety; OSHA; Violations

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