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Deadly Collapse Laid to Roof Overload

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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The "decision" to overload nine rooftop storage bins led to a plant collapse that killed two workers and injured nine others in January, federal authorities have determined.

Bin structures overloaded with limestone caused the collapse, which pancaked three stories into the center of the structure in 30 seconds, killing and trapping workers at International Nutrition Inc. of Omaha, NE., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced this week.

Intl Nutrition Collapse
OSHA

A structural failure of the east-side truss caused the bins to collapse down three floors into the center of International Nutrition's Omaha facility on Jan. 20.

OSHA also found other hazards in its inspection and has issued 13 citations against  the company, a manufacturer of livestock feed supplements. One of the citations is considered willful, OSHA's highest level of infraction. Another is a repeat violation.

OSHA proposed a total of $120,560 in fines and placed the company in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which targets enforcement resources toward so-called "recalcitrant" employers.

The collapse killed Keith Everett, 53, and David Ball, 47. Everett had been with the company about a year; Ball, about 10 years, reports said.

Four workers were trapped in the rubble of the building after the collapse and were rescued by the Omaha Fire Department's ladder truck rescue team. They and five other workers were transported to the hospital.

Injuries included burns, hypothermia and a collapsed lung. Some victims are still recovering, although the company said all have been released from the hospital.

David Ball Keith Everett
Courtesy of the families

David Ball (left), 47, and Keith Everett, 53, perished in the collapse at International Nutrition.

The accident shocked the community, which held fundraisers and rallied around the victims and their families.

'Senseless Loss of Life'

The company's product uses rice hulls, solulac and limestone, which were all stored in the bin structures on the roof. But OSHA isolated the limestone bins as the primary cause of the collapse.

"International Nutrition's decision to overload these bins directly led to the deaths of these two workers and the injuries sustained by nine other employees," said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

"Families lost loved ones because International Nutrition did not follow the basic safety procedures that would have prevented this senseless loss of life."

Assisting OSHA in the investigation were the City of Omaha; the Omaha Fire and Police Departments; Urban Search and Rescue, based in Lincoln; and Engineering Specialists.

CollapseDebris
KETV

Nine workers were injured in the three-story collapse; some were trapped in the debris. The body of one victim was not recovered until the next day.

"Each of these agencies and companies provided professional knowledge that was critical to protecting workers during the building demolition and in determining the cause of the structural collapse," said Bonita Winingham, OSHA area director in Omaha.

Violations Detailed

The citations (available here) include one willful violation for overloading the rooftop bins. A willful violation is one committed with "intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health," according to OSHA.

A repeat violation was issued for using compressed air at greater than the recommended 30 pounds psi. The company was previously cited for this violation in 2011.

Nine serious violations were also cited for:

Flyer
Facebook

The community rallied around the victims and their families.

A serious violation reflects substantial probability of death or serious physical harm from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Company: 'Strongly Disagree'

In a statement released Monday (July 21), International Nutrition said it was "disappointed" by OSHA's findings and would "continue to work towards determining the cause of the accident."

Of the willful violation, the company said: "We strongly disagree with OSHA's conclusions. We especially disagree that Company officials knew of any condition, which could have contributed to the collapse of our building."

The statement added: "None of the other citations relate, in any way, to the accident."

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Building envelope; Combustible Dust; Fatalities; OSHA; Respirators; Roofing materials

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