Feds cite & fine Phenix City lumber yard in worker's death - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Feds cite & fine Phenix City lumber yard in worker's death

Charles Mercer Charles Mercer

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) -  A Phenix City lumber yard has received more than 50 health and safety violations and $439,000 in fines from the government after a fatal accident involving one of their workers.

Back in May, 57-year-old Charles Mercer passed away after a piece of machinery hit him on the head as he was installing a motor at the facility off of Cut Rate Road in Phenix City.

This is the press release from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration stemming from Charles Mercer's death:

US Department of Labor's OSHA fines Alabama Lumber Company for violations following worker death: 1 worker killed, another injured in 2010

PHENIX CITY, Ala. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited MDLG, doing business as Phenix Lumber Co., for 53 safety and health violations following the death of one worker and the critical injury of a second at its Phenix City facility. Proposed penalties total $439,400.

"Phenix Lumber failed to protect its workers from death and serious injury," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "Employers are legally bound to provide a safe work environment for their employees. This company has repeatedly failed to do so, costing one worker his life and grievously injuring another. This must stop."

In March, OSHA inspectors opened a follow-up joint safety and health inspection to verify abatement from a previous visit that identified failure-to-abate violations. Before OSHA could conclude its review, one worker was killed when his head was crushed between a motor being hoisted with a forklift and other equipment. Another worker was seriously injured after he fell approximately 10 feet, breaking his neck, while doing daily maintenance on the debarker in the saw mill.

In connection with the fatality, Phenix Lumber has been issued one willful and five serious safety and health citations for permitting a worker to stand under an elevated portion of a powered industrial truck allowing a crushing injury. In relation to the fall resulting in critical injury, the company has been issued one willful, one repeat and one serious safety citation for not providing guardrails and fall protection, and not having a means to disconnect a rotor motor.

The follow-up inspection additionally resulted in the company being issued two failure-to-abate, 11 repeat, 21 serious and 10 other-than-serious safety and health citations for other violations. Those violations include failing to provide energy control procedures for equipment and machinery that require more than one lockout device, failing to provide proper electrical enclosures around live conductors and allowing ignitable or combustible dust to accumulate.

"Phenix Lumber has a history of saying it will correct its safety deficiencies, yet continues to allow a hazardous environment for its workers," said Cindy Coe, regional administrator for OSHA in Atlanta, Ga. "This horrendous situation cannot continue and will not be tolerated."

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA's area office, 1141 Montlimar Drive, Suite 10006, Mobile, AL 36609; telephone 251-441-6131.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

©2010 WTVM. All rights reserved.

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