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Fatal facility: third death in two years at barge manufacturing plant

Federal safety inspectors are incensed after a third worker died at a barge manufacturing plant which has a history of serious safety violation. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently proposed $119,000 in fines against Jeffboat, noting that the manufacturer had a history of placing its workers at risk for serious personal injuries and wrongful death.

In the most recent death, it appears that a malfunction in a transfer car caused the worker to be crushed to death between the car and the barge. Two other workers were killed in separate accidents in May 2010 and safety regulators say that these deaths may have been prevented if the manufacturer proactively addressed health and safety violations at its facility.

“Jeffboat has a responsibility to ensure that its employees are properly protected from known workplace hazards,” said an OSHA area director. “Failing to ensure workers’ safety and health through appropriate equipment maintenance, training and adherence to OSHA regulations demonstrates a lack of regard for employees’ lives and well-being.”

The fatality which occurred on May 10, 2010, happened when an employee fell between the top and middle guardrails of a barge. The manufacturer failed to keep the guardrails taut, which contributed to that worker’s 20 foot fall.

The other recent fatality happened on May 17, 2010 and involved an employee who fell from a ladder while carrying working gear. Generally workers are not supposed to carry anything up and down a ladder because this prevents them from maintaining three points of contact.

Source: OSHA, “US Department of Labor’s OSHA cites Jeffboat for 9 safety violations after worker fatality at Jeffersonville, Ind., barge manufacturing facility,” 11-1765-CHI, Feb. 16, 2012

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