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Death of Florida Worker in Elevator Shaft Results in $84,000 in Fines, 10 Violations

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
By Bruce Rolfsen

Nov. 4 --Two companies face $84,000 in proposed fines over the death of a worker in Florida who was crushed by an elevator car while cleaning the bottom of an elevator shaft, according to citations released Nov. 4 by the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The citations, dated Oct. 15, allege the two companies failed to coordinate their lockout/tagout procedures and that employees lacked required lockout/tagout training.

The worker, Mark Allen Johnson, 45, of Tampa, was employed by Progressive Environmental Services, doing business as SWS Environmental Services of Panama City Beach, according to OSHA and police reports. He died April 24 while cleaning oily water from the bottom an elevator shaft at a St. Petersburg Beach hotel. The hotel, Tradewinds Island Grand Beach Resort, is managed by RIA-Tradewinds Inc., according to the citations.

OSHA cited Progressive Environmental for one repeat and four serious alleged violations carrying proposed fines of $61,000.

The repeat violation was for failing to provide fall protection to its two employees who were exposed to a 6-foot, 5-inch drop to the bottom of the shaft, the citation said. The company was cited for the same violation during a March 2010 inspection in Sandusky, Ohio.

The serious violations were for an employee's failure to lock out the elevator, the lack of worker training on lockout/tagout procedures, failure to coordinate lockout/tagout practices with the hotel staff, and failure to develop lockout/tagout procedures for hydraulic elevators.

Progressive Environmental officials are reviewing the citations and haven't decided if they will appeal, a company spokesman told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 4.

RIA-Tradewinds had faced $23,000 in proposed fines for three serious and two other-than-serious alleged violations, according to the citations.

RIA-Tradewinds allegedly lacked a written lockout/tagout procedure for the hotel's elevators, the employee authorized to lockout/tagout the elevator involved in the death didn't do so, and there was no coordination of lockout/tagout procedures with Progressive Environmental. The two other-than-serious violations involved the lack of documentation for lockout/tagout procedures and training.

Tim Bogott, chief executive officer of Fortune Hotels Inc., the parent company of RIA-Tradewinds, told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 4 that a conference with OSHA resulted in the fines being reduced to $19,000 and OSHA agreeing to a non-admission of guilt clause as part of the settlement.

Bogott added that the company is using OSHA's advice to improve safety practices.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at brolfsen@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jim Stimson at jstimson@bna.com


Text of the citations is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=rdae-9d6lva and http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=rdae-9d6lv4.

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