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Georgia grain facility cited and fined by OSHA over fatal dust explosion

02 August 2016

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ruled that JCG Farms of Rockmart in Georgia violated safety standards that could have prevented a fatal grain dust explosion in February. OSHA inspectors determined excessive accumulation of grain dust in the hammer mill area ignited and the subsequent explosion killed one worker and injured five others.

The blast caused serious damage to the building and closed the feed mill of the chicken feed manufacturer.

On July 22, OSHA issued 23 citations to JCG Farms, whose parent company is Koch Foods Inc.

"It is tragic that despite wide industry awareness of these hazards, that some employers remain unaware of the common hazards of combustible dust," said Christi Griffin, OSHA's area director in the Atlanta-West Office said in a statement. "This incident and this man's death were preventable. JCG Farms needs to take a proactive approach in their safety and health program to assess the workplace for hazards and correct them to ensure worker safety."

According to a statement on OSHA's website, the agency found JCG Farms:
·  Exposed employees to fire and explosion hazards due to the build-up of combustible dust
·  Failed to post warning signs to inform workers of fire and explosion hazards
·  Exposed workers to being caught-in machinery
·  Failed to develop or implement an emergency action plan
·  Failed to train employees to recognize hazards such as fire, explosion associated with combustible dust
·  Did not implement a written housekeeping program to reduce the accumulation of grain dust
·  Exposed workers to electric shock hazards

Other violations involve not certifying forklift operator training, not issuing hot work permit for welding and grinding, failing to develop or maintain safety data sheets for feed mill products, failing to carry out noise monitoring and failing to provide respirator use information to employees.

Altogether, OSHA cited JCG Farms for 15 serious and five other-than-serious safety and health violations.

JCG Farms had contracted the Atlanta-based A to J Electrical Services to perform electrical, mechanical and maintenance work at the facility. OSHA also issued that company with one serious violation for not informing workers of the fire and explosion hazards associated with their work.

The agency also issued citations to D. Sims Inc. of Cohutta, Georgia, for one serious and one other-than-serious violation for not training workers on common ignition sources for dust and failing to provide employees using disposable dust masks with information in Appendix D of the respirator standard. The contractor provides housekeeping services at the facility.
Proposed penalties for the three companies total $112,600.

Koch Foods is a leading poultry producer headquartered in Chicago which employs approximately 14,000 workers across the USA.

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