OSHA opens investigation into death of equipment operator at LaBelle dairy farm

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s St. Louis Area Office opened an investigation today into the report of a worker’s death, Sept. 28. Initial reports indicate that the 51-year-old equipment operator was ejected from the rear of a company vehicle on Saturday, Sept. 26, at Sharpe Holdings cattle and dairy farm in LaBelle. The vehicle was traveling through the feed-flow area of the farm when the incident occurred. The worker suffered head injuries in the fall and died yesterday.

“OSHA extends our condolences to his loved ones who have suffered the irreplaceable loss of their father and friend,” said Bill McDonald, OSHA’s Area Director in St. Louis, who is investigating the incident. “These types of incidents are preventable. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that employees use safety devices in moving vehicles.”

Fatal transportation incidents accounted for about two out of every five fatal work injuries in 2013. OSHA has specific safety information available on this hazard, see
https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/motorvehiclesafety/index.html

Bethel-based Sharpe Holdings has been inspected by OSHA five times since September 2012 and issued 37 violations. The company contested citations issued in March 2015 following the fall-related death of a worker in September 2014. Since 2012, OSHA has investigated the death of three workers at the LaBelle cattle and dairy farm.

For information on the OSHA inspection process see: http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/factsheet-inspections.pdf.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742), or the agency’s St. Louis Area Office at (314) 425-4249.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.