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Komatsu America Corp. in Peoria, IL, is facing $82,000 in fines for four safety violations, including two repeat, after a worker suffered an injury while testing hydraulic cylinders for leakage and later died as a result of those injuries, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

During that process, the hydraulic coupler on the return line of the hoist stand failed and released pressurized hydraulic fluid, which struck the worker. The employee died two days later from injuries sustained at the truck manufacturing plant last August.

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Two repeat violations were for failing to develop machine-specific energy control procedures and training to ensure workers understood energy control procedures. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously received a citation for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The company faced similar violations at the Peoria facility in January 2011.

There were two serious violations cited for failing to evaluate and correct repeated catastrophic failures of critical machine parts, include authorized employees while conducting annual inspections, document annual inspection reviews of energy control procedures and include each authorized employee in the review. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

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“Komatsu America has a responsibility to ensure equipment is maintained in good working order and that employees are properly trained in the safe operation of equipment they are required to use,” said Tom Bielema, OSHA’s area director in Peoria. “This unfortunate incident might have been prevented had the employer addressed previous incidents where the hydraulic coupler had failed.”

Komatsu America Corp. is a U.S. subsidiary of Komatsu Ltd., whose headquarters is in Rolling Meadows, IL. The company has undergone inspections 43 times in 12 states in the past 21 years for safety issues, such as the control of hazardous energy and machine guarding.

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