A federal district court judge issued an injunction to prevent Missouri’s Partridge Sand & Gravel Inc. from stopping Mine Safety and Health Administration representatives from completing workplace inspections. The action addresses an August 2021 incident where owner Westley Partridge used loading equipment filled with rock and dirt to force MSHA inspectors’ vehicle off the road, then verbally harassed them before ordering them off the property.
The Department of Labor’s Office of the Solicitor filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri to ensure MSHA inspectors had access to the Partridge S&G mine. The producer allowed the inspectors to perform their duties in January, weeks after being served a complaint by the U.S. Marshal Service. Partridge S&G also agreed to a consent judgment barring it from “threatening, harassing, or intimidating an MSHA inspector carrying out the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.”
“Congress mandated regular Mine Safety and Health Administration inspections to protect the health and safety of our nation’s miners. We will not allow mine operators to prevent the U.S. Department of Labor from doing its vital work,” says Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda.
“To perform our agency’s critical work and protect the nation’s miners, our inspectors need access to all mine operations,” adds Acting Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Jeanette Galanis. “The actions of the U.S. Department of Labor make clear that the department will not tolerate mine operators who unlawfully prevent safety inspectors from doing their job.”
OSHA CITES LOCKOUT/TAGOUT VIOLATIONS IN POWERED MIXER DRUM FATALITY
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed $43,500 in penalties after determining that a Northeast ready mixed concrete producer could have prevented a worker from suffering fatal injuries during an October 2021 mixer truck repair. As the worker attempted to secure a fabricated plate near the discharge chute, the mixer drum began to turn and the fins caught the worker’s head.
The agency issued citations for six serious safety and health violations. It found the producer failed to establish a lockout/tagout program to prevent the drum from operating while employees serviced or maintained it; train employees in lockout/tagout procedures; and, conduct periodic inspections to ensure proper procedures were followed. OSHA also found that the company did not evaluate the workplace for permit-required entry to confined space, such as inside mixer truck drums; failed to provide and ensure that employees used fall protection while working on a mixer truck platform; and, exposed workers to silica dust, along with rotating drums and augers.
“This tragedy highlights the dangers of not ensuring lockout/tagout procedures are implemented before workers begin servicing machinery,” says OSHA Area Director Robert Sestito in Providence, R.I. “Complying with OSHA standards is not optional. Employers have an obligation to abate all hazards to protect the safety and health of their workers.”