Dundee winery fined $11K+ after worker dies in confined space

Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Dundee winery has been fined more than $11,000 after Oregon OSHA investigated the February 2021 death of a worker.

Officials with Oregon OSHA said the division cited Corus Estates & Vineyards LLC $11,100 after finding a series of “serious violations” after a cellar worker was found unresponsive in an empty 30,000-gallon wine tank in the morning of Feb. 1.

Officials said they learned the worker was in the wine tank to pump out about 500 gallons of wine remnants called lees, which is a mix of dead yeast, grape skins, seeds, stems and tartrates, into a secondary tank as low-pressure nitrogen gas was pumped into the tank from the top to prevent the lees from oxidation.

The worker, who was not identified by Oregon OSHA, was found to have died from asphyxiation as a result of oxygen being displaced.

“Every workplace death is a tragedy. And confined spaces are unforgiving. Employers must anticipate the risks and ensure that they protect their employees who enter confined spaces,” said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood said in a statement. “When something goes wrong in such a space, it is already too late to address the problem.”

Violations found by Oregon OSHA include: not performing initial testing for atmospheric hazards before the employee entered the tank; not ensuring a required attendant and entry supervisor was designated for the confined space task; not developing appropriate procedures and conducting practices for entry into confined spaces.

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