A farm worker’s death in late October of last year was found to be caused by toxic chemicals from manure.
Now, the farm that employed the man could be paying a major fine.
W.E. Soil Enhancement out of Bellevue, Ohio has been issued 3 OSHA safety violations following a long investigation stemming from the death of 31-year-old Humberto Hernandez.
Hernandez was found unconscious on October 31st after transferring liquid pig manure into a tanker truck at a farm facility near Vickery, Ohio.
He later died.
The cause of death was found to be overexposure to toxic Hydrogen Sulfide gas produced by the manure.
Hydrogen Sulfide is a silent killer that is well documented in the agriculture industry.
“It will diminish the sense of smell, so the employees don’t smell it after a while and don’t realize that they are being overexposed to the chemical. So it deadens the smell,” said Kim Nelson, Director of the OHSA Toledo office.
OSHA cited W.E. Soil Enhancement with 3 violations:
- Failure to provide engineering and respiratory protection
- Failure to provide a hazard communication program for its workers
- Failure to identify and evaluate respiratory hazards
“In this particular situation, if the employer had been in compliance with the Haz-Com standard, or the respiratory standard, or the things we cited them for, in all likelihood we probably would not have had a fatality,” said Nelson.
These are the first OSHA violations for W.E. Soil Enhancement.
OSHA proposed a $16,800 penalty.
The employer is given a due process time to either discuss the violations with OSHA, or file a notice of contest.
These citations are only allegations, and it is not up to OSHA if the company will face any criminal charges in the future.