Worker death leads to $11K fine for Dundee winery
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Agency said this week it has fined a Dundee winery $11,100 for alleged violations of confined space rules after an investigation into the death of a worker.
A worker at Corus Estates & Vineyards LLC, also known as 12th & Maple Wine Co., was found unresponsive Feb. 1 in an empty 30,000-gallon wine tank, the Statesman Journal reported.
The 39-year-old man’s task was to enter through the bottom and pump out about 500 gallons of wine remnants into another tank.
Low-pressure nitrogen gas was pumped in to prevent oxidation of the remnants and the man was asphyxiated as a result of the displacement of oxygen due to the nitrogen gas in the tank, according to OSHA.
The investigation cited Corus Estates & Vineyards for nine “serious” violations.
OSHA has given Corus Estates & Vineyards 10 days to correct the alleged violations. The winery said it plans to appeal the citations.
“Any specific comments regarding the citation, the alleged violations, and the fines would be premature as the process is still ongoing,” Paul D. Lukas, manager of Corus Estates & Vineyards, said in an email. “We have a robust confined space entry safety program that is designed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all of our employees.”