Grain Company Faces $406,000 Fine for Deadly Explosion | News
ATCHISON, Kan. — The U.S. Department of Labor has cited Bartlett Grain Company with thirteen safety violations for the October 2011 grain elevator explosion in Atchison that killed six workers and left two others injured.
“The deaths of these six workers could have been prevented had the grain elevator’s operators addressed hazar4ds that are well known in this industry,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Bartlett Grain’s disregard for the law led to a catastrophic accident and heartbreaking tragedy for the workers who were injured or killed, their families and the agricultural community.”
The violations include five “willful” safety violations and eight “serious” safety violations.
Willful violations are committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
The willful violations include:
- Allowing grain dust, which is nine times as explosive as coal dust, to accumulate.
- Using compressed air to remove dust without first shutting down ignition sources
- Jogging (repeatedly starting and stopping) inside bucket elevators to free legs chocked by grain
- Using electrical equipment inappropriate for the working environment
- Failing to require employees to use fall protection when working from heights.
Serious violations occur when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer should have known.
The serious violations include:
- Lack of proper preventive maintenance
- Certification and lubrication of grain handling equipment
- Inadequate emergency action plan training for employees and contractors
- Lack of employee and contractor training on job hazards
- Deficient housekeeping program that did not prevent grain dust accumulations
Bartlett Grain is based in Kansas City, Mo. The citations carry fines of $406,000.
Last week, Bartlett Grain announced that construction of a new grain facility is underway in Atchison, Kansas and provided a live link to a camera with a live feed of the construction 24/7 through the build.
The elevator will begin operating September 15. Bartlett is contracting grain from farmers now for the 2012 harvest.