The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said a sawmill and pallet manufacturer in Henderson received 13 safety and health violations following the fatal injuries and subsequent death of their 86-year-old employee. Proposed penalties are in the amount of $389,706. OSHA carried out an inspection of W.D. Townley and Son Lumber Company Inc after it was informed that an employee fell from a stack of pallets last July 6, 2021.
Fatal Work Injuries
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 4,764 work injuries recorded in America in 2020, representing a 10.7% decrease compared to the 2019 figure of 5,333. In Texas, 469 fatal occupational injuries were recorded or 139 less than in 2019 which is a decrease of 23%. Nonetheless, injuries and accidents are bound to occur if employers disregard the well-being of their workers as what happened at the sawmill. Businesses are accountable for injuries and fatalities that transpire at the workplace.
OSHA’s Dallas area director Basil Singh acknowledged that sawmill operations are hazardous work, but they should not threaten the lives of workers. The operations of a sawmill can become very dangerous especially when machines are used without the proper safeguards. Lacerations, severed fingers, and blindness can occur. As a result of the massive injuries from the fall, the sawmill worker died. In this case, since the company failed to provide their employees with a safe work environment, a Houston injury attorney can work with the families of those who have been harmed from the negligence or wrongdoing of others. The violations of the company included failure to implement energy control procedures, put guardrail systems, and use personal protective equipment (PPE). In addition, the employer did not inform the agency of a work-related fatality within 8 hours.
More OSHA Inspections in 2022
Douglas Parker was confirmed by the US Senate last year to head OSHA, the first Senate-confirmed leader of the agency in almost 5 years. Parker is a known and determined advocate of worker safety. Senator Patty Murray (D) of Washington said that he does not doubt that Parker will continue his support for worker safety. Jordan Barab, former Deputy Assistant Secretary at OSHA also believes that Doug will lead the agency through these ‘challenging times’ and has the experience/expertise to do so.
Under the Biden administration, the agency is expected to perform numerous regulatory actions and conduct more inspections and better enforcements. The number of enforcement inspectors will be increased as well as willful citations and criminal referrals. Employers should prepare for these types of policy actions and see to it that safety and health programs are in line with existing rules. Moreover, programs that were inactive in the past will likely be revived this year.
Improvements in the work environment are crucial in preventing injuries and fatalities such as the Texas sawmill incident. Implementing a strong occupational health and safety protocol ensures that workers are offered a safe work environment.