TOSHA releases report on death of Bush Brothers and Company employee

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- On Thursday, TOSHA released a report on the death of an employee at Bush Brothers and Company.

According to the release, it was reported that an employee had died on April 23, 2018 as a result of injuries sustained from being caught in a machine called a pallet de-stacker. The victim, a 40-year-old woman, was seriously injured when the de-stacker she was cleaning at the company went into operation.

The victim was trapped between the de-stacker and machinery framework. She was pronounced dead at the scene. TOSHA began inspecting the facility on April 23.

TOSHA's findings determined that the victim was a temporary employee assigned to operate the de-stacker. According to the release, no one witnessed the incident; however, another employee did tell investigators that she had witnessed the victim cleaning around the machine, which uses three stationary platforms and one conveyor platform that is fitted with a scissor-style lift. She told investigators that the victim had a broom and an air hose, was sweeping the platforms and then using the air hose to blow out the openings that contained electronic eyes. The witness said that, at that time, the scissor-lift platform was in the down position.

The witness left the area to obtain a pallet of product for de-stacking. When she returned, she told investigators she briefly noticed that the scissor-lift platform was in the up position. She saw the victim's legs between the scissor-lift and the frame supporting the magnetic head and conveyor machine.

The witness realized there was a problem and hit the emergency stop button and began to call for help. According to TOSHA, the victim succumbed to her injuries.

Investigators determined that the victim had been cleaning the frame, a common employee practice, and had reached out onto the scissor-lift platform to clean at which she unintentionally activated a part of the machine which caused the platform to life, pinning her.

According to the release, TOSHA concluded that "the employer failed to provide machine guarding between the space created by the framework (the area where the victim was working) and the scissor-lift platform."

"Additionally, the employer did not provide a written work-rule to employees instructing them to place the machine into "manual" mode," the release said.

The company was issued three citations, for "employee not utilizing lockout/tagout procedures, for absence of machine guarding and for failure to deliver hazard communication training."

Bush Brothers and Company announced that it has corrected the issues.

The company responded to the citation about employees not using proper lockout/tagout procedures and said that it was corrected on July 30. "Existing machine specific procedures have been placed on the power panels of the machines for easy reference," the company said. In addition, the company added signs saying "Danger: lockout before entering" for "increased visibility" for employees who have be approaching the machine. The company said these changes were announced to all shifts.

The second citation, absence of machine guarding, the company said was corrected on May 14. The company said it has placed panels at the point of operation to prevent physical access by an employee into the area where the "injury occurred." "These new guards also have warning labels not to operate without, or to bypass the machine guards," the company continued.

The third citation, "failure to deliver hazard communication training," has been corrected, according to the company. The company reported that employees who had not been receiving the Hazard Communication training from the staffing company have all been properly trained."

"The training has now been included into new employee orientation to match the policy already in place for Bush Brothers employees," the company continued.

The company was also fined $8,175 which is due in September.