The Division of Occupational Safety and Health of California, Cal/OSHA, levied a $283,390 fine on Los Angeles-based Alhambra Foundry as a result of an August 2017 “confined space” accident, in which a worker was trapped and seriously injured, necessitating amputation of his two legs.
Alhambra Foundry is a patternmaker, machining and fabricating shop, and a producer of gray iron, aluminum, and brass castings, including drain gates and manhole covers. The foundry also offers custom casting and steel fabricating services.
On August 28, 2017, two Alhambra Foundry workers were cleaning an auger screw conveyor. The employees were completing work at the bottom of the 38-ft.-long conveyor, which had not been powered-off or locked out.
After the cleaning, one worker re-entered the confined space to retrieve a work light. A maintenance employee energized the conveyor in order to test it, at which point a moving auger screw pulled the worker who was inside the equipment into the screw conveyor. The worker became trapped. In order to free him from the machine, both of his legs were amputated.
Upon investigation, Cal/OSHA determined that:
• Alhambra Foundry did not have a permit-required confined-space program. (A confined space is defined as an area large enough and so configured that an employee can enter and perform assigned work, has limited or restricted means of entry or exit, and is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.)
• The screw conveyor was not de-energized and locked-out before workers entered the hopper, and accident prevention signs were not placed on the controls.
• The worker re-entering the hopper was not monitored by a confined-space attendant.
• Alhambra Foundry lacked specific procedures for de-energizing and locking-out the equipment. Also, accident prevention signs were not posted on the controls.
The foundry was cited for eight violations — one willful serious accident-related, one willful serious, four serious, one willful general and one general. Cal/OSHA noted that the foundry was cited under similar circumstance in 2010.
“Sending a worker into a confined space is dangerous, especially inside machinery that can be powered on at any time,” stated Cal/OSHA chief Juliann Sum. “Employers must ensure that machinery and equipment are de-energized and locked-out before workers enter the space to perform operations involving cleaning and servicing.”