Prior serious safety violations at Bluffton plant where worker killed

Local News

BLUFFTON, Ind. (WANE) — A man was killed in an industrial accident at the Valero plant in Bluffton.

The Wells County coroner has identified the victim as 42-year-old Ryan West of Bainbridge, Ohio.

The Indiana Department of Labor confirms Valero contacted them Wednesday afternoon regarding the fatality. The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) has opened an inspection. Results can be expected 60 days after the inspection.

WANE 15 has learned the plant has had prior serious safety violations.

According to documents filed with IOSHA, Valero Renewable Fuels received two serious safety violations nearly 4 months prior to Wednesday’s incident.

The plant was fined $4,500 dollars for each of the violations. One was for controlling hazardous energy, the other for general requirements for all machines.

This investigation opened on February 25th is still pending.

When the plant was owned by Green Plains Renewable Energy is January 2012, IOSHA was called in for an inspection regarding safety. The case was closed eight days later. Green Plains Renewable Energy was not fined.

Prior to these two incidents, Green Plains was fined for another serious violation in 2011. That was regarding oxygen-fuel gas welding and cutting. The initial penalty was $1,500. In an informal settlement, Green Plains was fined $975.

Police and medics were called around 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 19th, to the Valero Renewable Fuels plant along South Adams Street on reports of an industrial accident. Police Chief Kyle Randall told WANE 15 that emergency crews responded and found West trapped inside a piece of equipment.

West was pronounced dead at the scene. The coroner says West died as a result of multiple traumatic injuries.

Randall says West was performing maintenance on a large auger when the accident happened. No foul play was indicated.

West was working for an outside contractor, Diversified Industrial Services, and not a direct employee for Valero.

We are saddened by the loss of an employee with Diversified Industrial Services who was working at Valero’s Bluffton, Indiana plant this morning. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, co-workers and friends. The health and safety of all workers in our facilities is our priority. As for details about the incident, a complete investigation will be conducted. Also, we are cooperating with local and state agencies on investigations they have underway already.  

Valero’s Spokeswoman, Lillian Riojas

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