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July 22, 2013

Top 10 OSHA Fines in June Approach $2 Million

OSHA issued ten 6-figure fines in June, with a total proposed value of more than $1.9 million. Trenching hazards and health and safety violations were common citations, as were willful and repeat violations. Here are some details of the cases, which are still pending final decisions:
1.  $465,410 for Electrocution, Other Hazards at N.Y. Construction Site
DANGER Electrocution Hazard
Electrocution Hazard Sign
  • Workers for three contractors performed concrete work and crane operations close to energized 13,200-volt overhead power lines during construction of a five-story building in Valley Stream, N.Y. The employers were issued willful citations for allowing employees and crane operations in close proximity to the power lines. They had been issued serious citations for not marking the power lines with warning signs.
  • Serious citations included failures to check if lines had been de-energized; train workers on electrocution hazards; have cranes inspected by a qualified person after assembly; mark the crane's swing radius; have protective helmets; and label and protect rigging, and not marking overhead power lines with warning signs.

2.  $325,710 and SVEP for Violations Related to Fire Fatality in Cincinnati
  • Four willful violations were among 22 safety and health violations assigned after a fire and explosion at a Cincinnati waste treatment facility. Two employees were severely burned by the fire, one fatally. Even after the explosion, the company failed to immediately address procedures and ensure employees knew how to use appropriate personal protective equipment and properly handle hazardous waste such as sodium chlorate, which caused the fire.
  • Willful violations cited involve failing to develop and implement hazardous waste handling procedures,  provide new training to employees assigned to handle waste materials, select and ensure use of proper personal protective equipment, and train workers on its selection and use for protection from various materials that are part of their routine assignments. Serious violations involved training and health issues.

3.  $258,000 for 51 Health and Safety Violations at Ohio Explosives Factory
  • Twenty-three serious violations related to process safety management include failing to correct deficiencies found in compliance audits; failing to have operating procedures address consequences of deviation from operating limits, including steps to avoid or correct deviation from such limits; and not following generally accepted good engineering practices for inspection and testing procedures.
  • An additional 24 serious violations involve inadequate labeling of hazardous chemical containers, not developing energy control procedures for the maintenance and servicing of equipment, lack of machine guarding and fall protection, as well as violations of electrical safety standards. Four other-than-serious violations involve failing to identify the worker who applied a lockout device, not effectively closing unused openings in electrical cabinets and boxes and not including the properties and hazards presented by process chemicals in written operating procedures.
4.  $159,400 for Machine Guarding and LOTO at a New York Manufacturer
  • Following an amputation incident, the company received two willful citations for an unguarded foot pedal and for failing to secure a saw to the floor. Sixteen serious citations involve failing to establish a lockout/tagout program and provide energy control equipment and training to workers; lack of a hazard communication program and failing to train employees on chemical and wood dust hazards; an exit door that was welded shut; various electrical hazards; untrained powered industrial truck operators; failure to keep the workplace clean, orderly and sanitary; floor not maintained in good repair; and inadequate guarding of moving machine parts.

5.  $157,000 and SVEP for Fatal Trench Collapse in Nebraska
  • Two willful violations for failing to provide cave-in protection to workers in an unprotected trench more than 5 feet deep and to provide a means of egress from a trench. One worker died from injuries received when a trench collapsed at a job site in Hastings, Neb.
  • Three serious violations involve failing to train workers on trenching hazards, lack of a hazard communication program, and failing to have a competent person conduct trench and excavation inspections. The company has been placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. OSHA provides information on trenching and excavation hazards at
6.  $137,618 for Suspending an Injured Employee in Michigan
  • A Ferndale, Mich. employee was suspended for 90 days after being struck and injured by a crane chain because he had "violated company safety protocol." OSHA's investigation found the employee had been directed by the mechanical supervisor to work in a manner that violated company safety protocols, and that the employer used the injury as a pretext to suspend the employee. OSHA has ordered the company to pay $137,618 in back pay, interest, punitive and compensatory damages and attorney's fees.
7.  130,500 for Trenching Hazards at N.J. Worksite
  • Willful and repeat trenching hazards were found at a Kearny, N.J. worksite. Willful violations included workers operating in an unprotected excavation. Repeat violations were issued to one of two contractors for the same violation, as well as entering an excavation that was not inspected beforehand by a competent person. Serious violations included failing to ensure a competent person inspected the excavation prior to allowing workers to enter.

8.  $117,920 For Not Correcting Previously Cited Hazards in Chester, N.Y.
  • Despite previous citations, a New York manufacturer did not implement a specific respiratory protection program for plant workers, failed to provide a medical evaluation to determine worker fitness to wear a respirator, fit-test respirators, train workers in fire extinguisher use, mark an exit door and address an exposed opening in an electrical cabinet. Six failure-to-abate notices and three repeat citations were issued.

9.  $116,200 for LOTO and Other Violations at a Texas Sawmill
  • Willful violation for failing to use control procedures for hazardous energy when cleaning, removing debris and unjamming equipment and machinery. 14 serious violations included failing to provide easily understood lockout/tagout training for energy control, failing to certify that energy control training was completed and current and failing to ensure that tagout devices were affixed to clearly indicate the operation or movement of the energy isolating device.
  • Violations were also cited for failing to guard machines, ensure that pulleys with parts less than 7 feet from the floor were guarded, ensure that entry point warning signs were posted at possible low carriage areas, ensure band saw wheels were completely enclosed or guarded, and ensure flexible cords and cables were not used as substitutes for fixed wiring. One health violation was cited for failing to administer an effective hearing conservation program. The company also was cited for failing to ensure an OSHA 300A injury and illness form was properly certified.
10.  $106,000 in Penalties for Willful, Serious Trenching Violations in Florida
  • Two willful and two serious safety violations were cited for exposing workers to a cave-in and other hazards while installing underground utilities at a Panama City Beach work site. Willful violations were for failing to provide workers with protection against cave-in hazards while working in a trench greater than 5 feet in depth. Two serious violations were cited for failing to provide hard hats or a ladder to workers entering and exiting the excavation.


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