'Loss of life could have been prevented': OSHA cites Western Sugar for worker death

2014-05-15T16:30:00Z 2014-06-16T11:56:04Z 'Loss of life could have been prevented': OSHA cites Western Sugar for worker deathGazette Staff The Billings Gazette

The Western Sugar Cooperative has been cited for a dozen workplace violations and hit with a proposed fine of $71,000 stemming from the Jan. 4 death of an employee at its Lovell, Wyo., facility.

A news release from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Occupational Safety and Health Administration said that the death happened when the worker, identified by Big Horn County officials as 28-year-old Anfesa Marie Galaktionoff, fell through a floor opening in the facility's beet wheel processing pit.

“This tragic loss of life could have been prevented," said Joan Evans, director of the Wyoming DWS, in the release. "The employer failed to properly implement OSHA safety standards that require adequate guarding around floor openings. The DWS OSHA investigation also revealed a variety of similar violations in many areas at the work site regarding inadequate railings and guarding.”

An inspection following Galaktionoff's death resulted in OSHA's discovery of one repeat serious violation, which was a debris and foam buildup that made it difficult to see the unguarded opening to the pit, inadequate spill clean-ups and sharp metal on the room's floor.

The inspection also yielded 11 conditions that could be considered serious violations, the release states. They included inadequate railings or toe boards on footways or elevated platforms, inadequate railings for the openings around the beet pit and in other locations, a lack of signage or inadequate signage, inadequate guarding for rotating or moving equipment parts, poorly maintained tools and equipment and a lack of ready access to safety data information in one of the buildings.

Western Sugar has 15 days to comply with or address the penalties and fines. Any fines paid go to the local school district.

The Western Sugar Cooperative was formed in 2002. Its 1,400 grower-owners raise sugar beets in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. 

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