Whistleblower Law Blog

OSHA Fines Labolt Farmers Grain Company for Exposing Workers to Hazardous Conditions

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued 13 citations to LaBolt Farmers Grain Company, Inc. for exposing workers to unsafe conditions.  OSHA fined Labolt $95,920 for the cited violations.  LaBolt, based in South Dakota, allegedly failed to neutralize an auger, which severely injured a worker’s leg during a moving bin sweep. As a result of this incident, OSHA investigated and cited Labolt.  OSHA issued four citations for “willful” violations; six for “repeat” violations; and three for “serious” violations.  OSHA issued the “willful” citations because LaBolt allegedly failed to complete confined space and grain bin entry permits; failed to design and execute a confined space program; and failed to provide a competent individual to observe work and ensure that dangerous equipment was neutralized. The citations for repeat violations alleged lack of control over grain dust accumulations; lack of effective guard floor openings, pulleys and vertical belts; lack of a written housekeeping program; and failure to use only approved electrical equipment. Finally, OSHA cited Labolt for “serious” violations because LaBolt allegedly did not perform atmospheric tests and did not provide effective training for employees working in confined spaces and grain bins.

“Despite awareness of the hazardous nature of grain bin entries and of the means and methods to prevent such hazards, the employer failed to develop and enforce recognized safe work practices,” said Tom Deutscher, OSHA’s area director in Bismarck.

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