Dairy Cooperative Fined Over Trucker Killed in Fall

March 12, 2011

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Today, we put the spotlight on the Wisconsin dairy fined for a trucker's fatal fall:

The US Department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ruled that a Wisconsin "willfully ignored" federal safety rules in a trucker's death. George Oberding died in August, 2011 after a fall from the top of his truck's trailer onto a concrete floor while involved in uploading a milk tanker. Oberding, aged 50 years, suffered severe head trauma including several skull fractures.

The dairy, Wisconsin's Associated Milk Producers was fined $72,500 after the OSHA investigation.

The OSHA citation outlines that Associated Milk Producers willfully ignored safety rules to protect its employees, and for failing to properly implement safety procedures including protection from falling when performing milk tanker uploading.

In addition, the company was fined for two serious lapses in failing to provide adequate safety and operational training and failing to properly evaluate and certify industrial vehicle operators using their equipment.

The incident has exposed the fact that Associated Milk Producers (based in Blair, WI) did not operate fall safety protection systems at any of its 13 dairy depots in the state for independent truck drivers (though company employed drivers were issued with proper safety equipment and required to use company safety procedures).

In addition to the citation against Associated Milk Producers, the Oberdern's employing trucking company was also cited. Bechel Brothers, based in Plum City, WI, was also issued with a willful citation pertaining to that company's failure to implement and ensure compliance with effective fall safety protection. Bechel Brothers required its drivers to clean out milk tankers by climbing on top of the milk tanker trailer. The

Bechel Brothers was fined $14,000 for the safety violation and is also placed on the Severe Violator's Enforcement Program maintained by the OSHA. The Severe Violator's Program mandates for compulsory follow-up compliance and monitoring inspections.

Associated Milk Producers is not alone in being cited by the OSHA. In addition to that company, OSHA issued citations to seven other dairy/milk producing companies in WI. All were cited for violations in connection to failing to provide adequate fall protection from milk taker trailers. In addition, OSHA has stated that all employers must ensure that workers are not exposed to operational risks which may result in death or injury.

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