Tragic Jacksonville death drives Bacardi Rum safety shakeup

Picture: Peacock Armageddon/Flickr

Bacardi claims it has improved health and safety programs at its Jacksonville rum facility after it was fined $110,000 for a worker’s death but its group-wide manufacturing accident rate actually rose 10% in 2013.

The fatal accident happened at the Bacardi Rum bottling site in during August 2012, when 21-year-old temporary worker Lawrence Davis was crushed to death on his first day of work while cleaning up glass inside a palletizer.

Davis died when a co-worker restarted the machine, and after an investigation the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hit Bacardi Bottling with 12 alleged safety violations

2013 accident rate rises!

David Michaels, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) assistant secretary of labor, told a National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health in June 2013 that the Bacardi incident was one of OSHA’s most high-profile recent enforcement cases.

“Our investigation found that he and his co-workers were never trained in the simple lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures that would have saved his life,” Michaels told the committee.

Following its investigation OSHA placed Bacardi on its severe violators program list for three years and the safety violations led to the spirits firm paying a $110,000 fine – announced last week – seemingly less than the $192,000 OSHA initially demanded.

In addition to two safety citations for LOTO failings, OSHA cited Bacardi Bottling a further nine times for issues including exposing workers to trips and fire hazards where fixed conveyors crossed aisles, obstruction of exit routes, exposing workers to falling bottles and debris from overhead conveyors, electric shock hazards and lack of machine guarding.

But despite a raft of improvements to health and safety across its network, Bacardi’s newly released 2013 corporate social responsibility report shows that 21 group-wide manufacturing accidents happened in full year 2013 and only 19 in 2012 – there were 30 accidents in 2011.

However, Amy Federman, Bacardi director of communications, pointed out to us that Bacardi Limited improved its overall Lost Time Accident Rate (LTAR) by 10%, a 10% decrease.
"In fact, we've had a 75% improvement in our LTAR since 2006," she told BeverageDaily.com

Entire safety program reviewed

The world’s largest privately owned spirits company said in the report that it reviewed its entire safety program at the Florida site using a third-party expert in the wake of Davis’ death.

“Following the accident, we undertook a comprehensive review of the safety requirements embedded in our standards and codes of practice,” the company said.

“We also evaluated our machine-guarding standards and our policies and procedures for systems, including lock-out/tag-out (LOTO), contractor management and safety training.”

Bacardi said it also audited all of its 28 global facilities in the wake of the review and is implementing improvement actions.

The company has 6,198 workers worldwide and reported 2013 sales of $4.47bn, with 62m nine-liter case sales of brands including Bacardi Rum, Grey Goose Vodka, Martini and Bombay Sapphire.

*Article corrected to include Bacardi Limited comment on February 3.

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