By Jim Misunas
ROZEL — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Golden Valley Inc. of Rozel $24,500 for seven safety violations following the investigation of an accidental death of an employee in 2011.
OSHA’s report indicated Golden Valley violated Section 5(a)1 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
Violation of Section 5(a)1 indicates “the employer did not furnish employment and a place of employment which were free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees in that employees were exposed to struck by hazards.”
Golden Valley’s citation and notification of penalty was issued in 2011, but was released publicly after a freedom of information request was filed by The Great Bend Tribune regarding the OSHA investigation from the Wichita office.
Golden Valley’s fines were reduced from the “gravity based penalty,” of $36,000. The gravity of a violation is the primary consideration in calculating penalties and is established by assessing the severity of the injury/illness which could result from a hazard and the probability that an injury or illness could occur.
One gravity-based penalty of $4,000 was waved. OSHA inspections were performed from June 22, 2011 to Aug. 9, 2011.
Several of the violations were not related to the employee’s accident. OSHA cited Golden Valley Inc. for seven “serious,” safety violations, including protective guardrails that were not installed and floor holes that were not covered.
Golden Valley Inc. general manager Ed Taylor said corrective action was made for all of OSHA’s findings in 2011.
The stiffest fine of $7,000 graded for a high severity risk was administered for the lack of a manhole covering, an attendant or protective guard railing that would help prevent an accidental fall through an opening into a grain bin.
Rosendo “Manny” Ceniceros of Rozel was killed in an accident June 22, 2011 at the Rozel Grain Facility. The accident report indicated Ceniceros sustained a fatal fall.
OSHA’s report provided the following summary of the accident.
“On Wednesday, June 22, 2011, employee No. 1 (victim) was part of a two-man crew assigned to the Golden Valley Inc. grain elevator, known as the East Elevator. Employee No. 1 was receiving grain (wheat) from harvest until approximately 9:30 a.m. During a lull in delivery trucks, employee No. 2 directed employee No. 1 to clean and sweep the floor on the bin deck level.
“At approximately 9:45 a.m., employee No. 2 was on the ground level in the office when he heard a clanking sound and then heard yells for help. He proceeded up to the bin deck and observed bin No. 10 open, with the 19-inch diameter cover off to the side, and heard the employee No. 1 approximately 70 feet below.
“Employee No. 2 proceeded to contact EMS via 911, and other management personnel. Subsequent rescue attempts were not successful, and employee No. 1 succumbed to his injuries prior to retrieval from the grain bin.”
Taylor said the Ceniceros family received death benefits through workman’s compensation.
A surviving spouse may receive death benefits for the remainder of his or her life unless the spouse remarries. If there are dependent children at the time the employee dies, the death benefits are distributed one half to the surviving spouse, and the remaining half is distributed among the eligible children. A child is eligible to receive death benefits until he or she reaches 18; or until age 25 if the child is enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited educational institution.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 affords workers the right to a safe workplace. OHSA requires employers to provide a workplace that is free of serious recognized hazards and in compliance with OSHA standards.
Golden Valley, Inc. is a farmer-owned grain and supply cooperative formed Dec. 1, 2001 by the consolidation of Golden Plains Cooperative of Rozel and Sanford, Farmers Coop Grain and Supply of Burdett and Tri-Ag Coop of Sanford.