OSHA Fines Lumber Distributor $218K After Fatality

The agency says the company could have prevented the death of an 18-year-old worker who was struck by a forklift at a Rison, Arkansas.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA. Vector illustration

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration has proposed more than $218,000 in penalties for a Texas-based lumber distributor after a worker was struck and killed by a forklift, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

OSHA said Hixson Lumber Company LLC — based in Carrollton, Texas — could have prevented the death of an 18-year-old worker at a Rison, Arkansas, worksite in July 2022, but the company wasn’t following federal safety requirements.

“A family, his friends and co-workers are left to mourn a young man whose life was cut short because his employer failed to follow safety requirements that would have prevented this tragedy,” said OSHA Area Director Kia McCullough in Little Rock, Arkansas. “Hixson Lumber Company did not meet its legal responsibility to ensure that hazardous equipment was maintained, and that only trained and certified workers are allowed operate forklifts.”

OSHA opened its investigation on July 23, 2022, and alleged that Hixson Lumber Company LLC allowed the worker to operate a forklift when they were not certified to do so.

During the investigation, OSHA said inspectors learned the worker had dropped the forklift’s key after parking the motorized device. As the worker searched for the key, the forklift rolled and struck the worker, who was assigned to pull and count lumber and was unsupervised at the time of the incident. Investigators determined the forklift’s original parking brake had been removed and replaced with a makeshift brake, which failed to hold the machine in place, OSHA said.

After the investigation, OSHA cited the company for one willful and four serious violations, alleging that Hixson Lumber Company “failed to train the worker, left keys inside unsecured forklifts and did not make sure the forklift used by the teenager had a proper parking brake, working horn and backup alarm as required.”

OSHA has proposed $218,759 in penalties. The company has 15 business days from receipt of citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

 

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