Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hankins Lumber Co. faces serious violations, $80K in penalties after OSHA finds Mississippi sawmill's safety failures led to worker's death

October 20, 2016

OSHA finds Mississippi sawmill's safety failures led to worker's death
Hankins Lumber Co. faces serious violations, $80K in penalties

GRENADA, Miss. - An employer that fails to follow safety standards leaves workers like Charlie Cummins, Jr. to suffer the consequences.

On May 4, 2016, the saw operator with more than 20 years with Hankins Lumber Co. was attempting to adjust a pin stuck in the up position on an infeed table of a gang saw. Suddenly, unguarded sprocket on a rotating shaft entangled his clothes, leaving him pinned against the equipment and unable to breathe fully. Cummins then lost consciousness. Taken to a local hospital after others freed him, the 56-year-old man later died of his injuries

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated and found his employer failed to ensure proper machine guards and emergency shut-off procedures were in place. The agency issued 12 serious and three other-than-serious safety and health violations to Hankins Lumber.

"Had Hankins Lumber met its responsibilities to protect its workers, Charlie Cummins would not have died needlessly," said Eugene Stewart, OSHA's area director in the Jackson Office. "Every employer must ensure equipment is guarded and safety procedures are operational in the event of an emergency."

OSHA issued the serious citations to the employer for its failure to:
  • Utilize safety procedures to turn off equipment in an emergency.
  • Close unused openings in electrical cabinets.
  • Provide machine guarding on shafts, pulleys and belts.
  • Provide confined space training.
  • Provide standard railings on open sided floors and platforms.
  • Provide a safety latch on the hoist hook.

Other violations include no hazard assessment certification, not posting confined space signs by the boiler and failing to have a written hazard communication program.

OSHA has proposed $80,937 in penalties. You can view the citations at:

Based in Grenada, the sawmill manufactures kiln dried yellow pine lumber and employs approximately 200 workers. The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint; or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Jackson Area Office at 601-965-4606.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

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Officials from Hankins Lumber Co. announced that the company is reopening its southern yellow pine lumber facility in Grenada, Miss. following a 15 month closure due to the downturn in the economy. The project includes a $1.5 million investment and is creating 120 jobs, many of which will be filled by former employees.

“We are pleased that we are able to reopen our facility and bring our employees back to work,” says Al Hankins, Hankins Lumber Company President. “It was difficult to have to close the operation down for any length of time, but with the resurgence of the housing market and the renewed demands for timber products, we believe it now makes economic sense to reinvest in the business. We are eager to hire our employees back and get started.”

The Mississippi Development Authority provided assistance in support of the project to refurbish a rail spur that services the company’s site. Grenada County provided assistance for the project as well.

Hankins Lumber Co. began operations in 1972. The company uses southern yellow pine from throughout the state of Mississippi to produce its dimension lumber and boards.

For more information visit: