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OSHA cites Middletown firm in fatal silo accident

Published: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 @ 8:14 PM
Updated: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 @ 8:14 PM

OSHA, in findings released Tuesday, cited Central Ready Mix of Middletown for 10 serious safety violations in the August death of a New Carlisle man who suffocated in 8,000 pounds of fly ash in a silo at the company.

The death of 39-year-old Tim Taylor was "a terrible, preventable tragedy," the area director of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration said.

Bill Wilkerson, OSHA area director in Cincinnati, called engulfment one of the "six major hazards" present in silo-type storage facilities. He said the Aug. 6 fatal accident "underscores the importance of complying with safety precautions," such as using harnesses and lanyards.

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"Employers are responsible for identifying hazards and ensuring workers follow proper procedures to prevent injury or death," he said.

Representatives from Central Ready Mix, 4714 Oxford State Road, were unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Taylor entered the cone-bottom silo in an attempt to break up clumps of fly ash that had clogged the bottom discharge, OSHA officials said. After attempts to dislodge clumps with a metal bar and air hose did not work, he climbed into the silo, without a harness and lanyard, and devoted several hours to breaking up the clumps before being engulfed, officials said.

Taylor worked at the company for 15 years. He died from asphyxia and his death was ruled accidental, according to the Butler County Coroner's Office.

Ten serious violations involve several violations of OSHA's confined space permit entry requirements, including failing to evaluate a workplace for permit-required confined spaces; develop a written permit space entry program, including signage; create measures to prevent unauthorized entry; provide necessary equipment; train workers on procedures; and develop a permit issuance system and procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services.

Other violations include failing to ensure workers use harnesses with retrieval lines attached; address unsafe catwalks; correct an unguarded floor hole in the silo catwalk; and use flexible electrical cords properly. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Proposed fines total $55,800.

Central Ready Mix has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and notice of proposed penalties to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. If a company does not file or contest within that period, it must abate the cited conditions within the period ordered in the citations and pay the proposed penalties.

One day before Taylor was killed, Charles Groh, of Fairfield, was killed in a similar incident on a Fairfield farm. Groh, 72, also died from asphyxia and his death was accidental, according to the coroner's office. OSHA has no jurisdiction to further investigate the incident because it occurred on a farm with fewer than 10 employees, Wilkerson said.