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Cal/OSHA has cited an agricultural employer and a farm labor contractor more than $100,000 combined in proposed penalties after a worker was fatally crushed by a bin dumper at a walnut processing and packing facility in Tehama County.

On October 6, 2018, forklift operators at Crain Walnut Shelling in Los Molinos were filling bins with walnuts, which were then dumped into a hopper for processing. A temporary worker for Cal North Farm Labor, Inc. was instructed to clean the area around the equipment. The worker was under an 800-pound bin dumper when it emptied its load and automatically lowered to the ground, crushing him.

Cal/OSHA’s investigation determined the employer did not evaluate workplace hazards and the worker did not receive safety training from Crain Walnut Shelling or Fresno-based Cal North Farm Labor, Inc. before being assigned to clean concrete and machinery at the walnut processing facility.

“Working near large moving parts of equipment and machinery can be deadly,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Employers must identify and evaluate workplace hazards and unsafe conditions and provide effective training to employees before they begin a new job assignment.”

Investigators found that Crain Walnut Shelling failed to ensure that the walnut bin dumper they designed included proper machine guards or lockout/tagout procedures to protect workers who maintain the machinery. Crain also failed to provide an extension tool for cleaning the area, which would have significantly minimized potential crushing hazards. Cal/OSHA identified four serious violations and issued four citations with proposed penalties totaling $67,500.

Citations were also issued to Cal North Farm Labor, Inc. for their failure to ensure that workers are trained on hazards related to cleaning and servicing around the bin dumper.

Cal/OSHA issued two citations classified as serious with proposed penalties of $33,750. Failure to develop and follow steps to de-energize or block the use of equipment, otherwise known as lockout/tagout procedures, before cleaning or working on machinery can result in serious or fatal workplace injuries. Cal/OSHA offers an eTool to help employers comply with lockout/tagout regulations and develop an effective safety program.