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August 20, 2013

Top OSHA Fines in July 2013

OSHA issued seven 6-figure fines in July, with a total proposed value of more than $1 million. Common citations included chemical hazards, process safety, training and signage issues. Here are some details of the cases, which are still pending final decisions:

$193,300 for Combustible Dust, Signage Missing Guards at Montana sugar plant
    OSHA Confined Space Permit sign
  • Four repeat violations involved excessive accumulations of combustible coal dust, unguarded elevated platforms, lack of signs on permit spaces and unguarded horizontal shafting. OSHA has inspected this employer 16 times since February 2008, finding 30 violations at work sites in Montana, Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming.
  • 12 serious safety violations include unsafe use of flexible cords and electrical equipment; open junction boxes; inadequate fire exits; failure to provide standard railings on stairways; unguarded points of operation and rotating parts; unguarded vertical shafting and projecting shaft ends; and overhead crane hook deficiencies.
$170,000 for Chemical Hazards at Arkansas Poultry Processor
  • One willful violation with a $70,000 fine for failing to document that the emergency shutdown system for the engine room was designed to ensure the ventilation system would be activated by an ammonia leak.
  • Nine serious violations for PSM deficiencies of relief valves and failing to provide process hazard analysis, operating procedures, testing procedures and management of change procedures.
  • A repeat violation for failing to ensure adequate frequency of self-inspections and tests of ammonia refrigeration equipment and vessels.
$150,000 for Chemical Hazards at Wisconsin Frozen Food Plants
    Eye Wash Station Sign
  • OSHA received complaints following a fire that destroyed of a portion of the plant's ammonia refrigeration system, and issued 22 process safety management violations for not addressing the failure of various engineering and administrative controls, unsafe procedures for draining oil from ammonia compressors, and not providing worker training involving the ammonia systems and related equipment.
  • Four additional serious violations include insufficient safety guardrails on platforms; inadequate exit routes; lack of an emergency eyewash station near a compressor room, posing potential exposure to anhydrous ammonia; and missing cover plates on several electrical switches.

$131,670 and SVEP Status Following a Texas Construction Company Fatality
  • A worker was killed when the flammable barrel he was torch cutting exploded. The company was aware of a near miss involving ignition and over pressurization of another drum just weeks before the fatal explosion, and did nothing to address it. A willful violation was cited for failing to thoroughly clean drums or barrels containing flammable substances before welding or cutting work to prevent worker exposure to ignition or toxic emissions.
  • 12 serious violations include failing to provide hand and eye protection; lockout and tagout energy sources; train and certify workers on powered industrial trucks; provide machine guarding; properly store and handle compressed gas; and provide hazard communication training.
  • Four other violations include failing to provide an inhalation exposure assessment, respiratory protection, personal protective equipment hazard assessment and mark and inspect the alloy steel and synthetic web slings.
 $131,320 for Failure-to-Abate and Training Violations at Ohio Metal Processor
  • Violations include three failure-to-abate citations for not administering an effective hearing conservation program and implementing procedures to control hazardous energy.
  • Two repeat violations were cited for failing to train workers on the purpose and use of energy control procedures and not training them on the general principles of fire extinguisher use upon initial employment and annually thereafter. Similar violations were cited in February 2012.
$128,700 for Process Safety Violations at Ohio Manufacturer
  • Following an explosion that injured three workers, OSHA issued 17 serious violations related to Process Safety Management include failing to address fire and explosion hazards within ventilation ducting, process equipment and pressure vessels through accurate process safety information. The company also failed to have detailed operating procedures, provide operator and maintenance technician training and develop an inspection and testing program.
  • Four additional serious violations include lack of machine guarding, failing to document specific hazardous energy control procedures, not applying lockout devices to machinery during servicing, failing to shut down machinery prior to servicing and not providing flame-retardant clothing for workers exposed to fire/explosion hazards.
$126,900 for Willful and Repeat Violations at an Arkansas Refinery
  • One willful violation for failing to ensure relief valves were properly sized and of adequate capacity to provide relief. A repeat violation for failing to ensure process safety information included the relief system design. A similar violation was cited in the 2010 inspection.
  • Three serious violations were cited for failing to ensure intervening block valves, upstream and downstream of relief devices, were locked in the open position; ensure process hazard analysis recommendations for facility siting were resolved in a timely manner; and ensure energy control procedures were written to specifically relieve stored energy.
Read more about these and other fines at the OSHA Newsroom.Find OSHA safety signs fast at

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