The Importance of Safety Devices & Safety Awareness

sugar-plantFollowing up on a fatality that occurred in February 2013, Newser reports, “A worker at a Pennsylvania sugar plant died buried alive in sugar in an accident that could have been prevented by a safety device removed just 13 days earlier.”

According to an OSHA investigation, Janio Salinas, a 50-year-old temp worker at the plant, was attempting to clear a clog inside a sugar hopper when he lost his footing and sunk down into the funneling sugar, dying of asphyxiation.

The investigation also turned up a disturbing fact: One of the safety devices that had been installed to prevent this sort of thing from occurring was removed just thirteen days prior to the incident.

The reason?

It’s actually a familiar story.  The plant manager determined that the safety device was slowing down production.  The hopper became clogged with clumps of sugar every 30 to 40 minutes with the safety screen in place, but only a few times per shift without the screen in place.

But perhaps even more disturbing, the plant manager ignored warnings that without the device in place a fatality was imminent, as just days prior to the fatality another worker experienced a near miss in the hopper, nearly being killed himself–and that after the screen had been removed.

The cost to the company was just over $18,000 for the fatality.  The cost to Janio Salinas’ wife and family was significantly higher.

Further Reading
Worker Buried Alive After Sugar Plant Pulls Safety Device
Sugar Plant Removed Safety Device 13 Days before Temp Worker’s Death
OSHA Investigation of the Incident


About the Author

safetyBUILT-IN is the safety-leadership learning and development division of SCInc. We believe sustainable safety performance is best achieved through a core-values based safety culture, and that culture must be driven by leadership. Our safety-leadership programs are competency-based, and focused on performance outcomes. We believe in building capability and ownership into our client organizations—as well as sustainability into our programs—so that our clients can continue running those programs long after we’re out of the picture. Our emphasis is on building better leadership presence, better leadership communication and better leadership coaching by first building relationships of trust with people and learning how to engage them on the level of their core values and beliefs.