A contractor performing maintenance on a large auger was killed in an industrial accident at the Valero renewable fuel plant in Bluffton, IN.
Ryan West, 42, of Bainbridge, Ohio, died in the incident last Wednesday, said the Wells County coroner.
“The worker was performing maintenance work on a large auger when the accident occurred. The scene was documented and police spoke with witnesses and other employees to help make the determination that no foul play was indicated,” the Bluffton Police Department said.
Police and medics were called around 10 a.m. June 19, to the Valero Renewable Fuels plant along South Adams Street on reports of an industrial accident. Police Chief Kyle Randall said emergency crews responded and found West trapped inside a piece of equipment.
West was pronounced dead at the scene. The coroner says West died as a result of multiple traumatic injuries.
Randall says West was performing maintenance on a large auger when the accident happened. No foul play was indicated.
West was working for an outside contractor, Diversified Industrial Services, and not a direct employee for Valero.
Valero’s spokeswoman, Lillian Riojas, issued a statement from the company:
“We are saddened by the loss of an employee with Diversified Industrial Services who was working at Valero’s Bluffton, Indiana plant this morning. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, co-workers and friends. The health and safety of all workers in our facilities is our priority. As for details about the incident, a complete investigation will be conducted. Also, we are cooperating with local and state agencies on investigations they have underway already.”
The Indiana Department of Labor confirmed Valero contacted them Wednesday afternoon regarding the fatality. The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) has opened an inspection.
The plant has had prior serious safety violations. According to documents filed with IOSHA, Valero Renewable Fuels received two serious safety violations nearly 4 months prior to Wednesday’s incident.
The plant was fined $4,500 dollars for each of the violations. One was for controlling hazardous energy, the other for general requirements for all machines.
This investigation opened on February 25 is still pending.
When the plant was owned by Green Plains Renewable Energy is January 2012, IOSHA was called in for an inspection regarding safety. The case was closed eight days later. Green Plains Renewable Energy was not fined.
Prior to these two incidents, Green Plains was fined for another serious violation in 2011. That was regarding oxygen-fuel gas welding and cutting. The initial penalty was $1,500. In an informal settlement, Green Plains was fined $975.