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September 17, 2013

Top OSHA Fines Total $4 Million in August 2013

OSHA was very busy in August, issuing 15 6-figure fines with a proposed total value of more than $4 million. Common citations included LOTO, fall protection and electrical hazards. Here are some details of the cases, which are still pending final decisions:

$1.14 Million for Willful Fall Protection Hazards at Ohio Steel Plant
  • 15 willful violations of OSHA's fall protection standards. Violations included lack of fall protection while working on girders 66 feet above the ground and 30-foot falls due to missing and damaged guardrails. Workers were also exposed to falls of up to 30 feet above a slag pit and 20 feet above an electric arc furnace and molten steel ladle. OSHA discovered a history of failing to address fall hazards, including two workers seriously injured in falls in 2012, and willful fall hazard violations in 2011.
    Danger - confined space area entrance permit required
  • One repeat violation for failing to post danger signs indicating existence and location of permit-required confined spaces in the melt shop. The same violation was cited in August 2009. Eight serious violations include tripping hazards, use of electrical panels not suitable for wet locations, lack of personal protective equipment, failing to evaluate potential hazards in confined spaces and failure to train workers on hazards and issue entry permits for those spaces. The company will remain in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
$317,000 and SVEP for Willful Machine Guarding Violations at an Illinois Metal Fabricator
  • Three willful violations include: bypassing machine safeguards on two laser-cutting machines and the failures to lock out sources of hazardous machine energy. Two additional serious violations include unguarded open-sided floors and platforms causing a fall hazard. After the incident, OSHA found other employees exposed to amputation hazards while operating a power press brake because the guard had not been set up properly. OSHA issued a willful violation for this hazard.
    Warning Do not operate without guards
  • Six serious citations were issued for failing to: inspect powered industrial trucks before service and to remove them if they are damaged, mark the load capacity of lifting devices, provide training on hazardous energy control procedures and implement an effective lockout/tagout program to protect workers during machine servicing. OSHA also cited the company for work areas with potentially hazardous accumulations of powder coating dusts and for failing to implement an effective respiratory protection program with worksite-specific procedures.
$293,450 for Repeat Electrical and Health Violations at Guam Shipyard
  • 46 serious violations include electrical hazards; lack of guardrail protections; failure to establish and implement a lockout/tagout program; lack of a respiratory protection program; failure to maintain good housekeeping practices; and failure to check, inspect and maintain portable fire extinguishers. Workers were also exposed to metal fumes without respiratory protection.
  • Seven repeat violations included inadequate guardrails and fall prevention; lack of eye protection and electrical wiring hazards.

$267,434 for Hazardous Combustible Dust Levels at Texas Cabinet Manufacturer
  • Three repeat violations were cited for failing to remove combustible wood dust, cover electrical boxes and reduce the pressure of compressed air. A failure-to-abate violation was cited because the employer failed to remove combustible wood dust from the parts mill area. Similar violations were cited in 2012.
  • 24 serious safety and health violations included failing to provide adequate guarding on machinery; ensure electrical knockouts were covered; provide required personal protective equipment; administer audiometric exams to affected workers; lockout or tagout energy sources; ensure loads were secured and stable to prevent shifting; and provide an effective hearing conservation program.
$260,000 in Back Pay and Damages for Whistleblower Violations by a Midwest Railway
  • The parent company was ordered to pay over $263,000 in back wages, interest, attorney's fees, compensatory and punitive damages to two employees who were disciplined for reporting work-related injuries, which is in violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act. One employee will also be reinstated to his position. Punitive damages for each case were $100,000 because both subsidiaries were repeat offenders for violating the FRSA.
$259,000 for LOTO and Varied Safety and Health Violations at New Jersey Food Manufacturer
  • One willful violation for failure to develop and implement Lockout/tagout procedures.
  • One repeat violation for housekeeping and multiple serious violations including electrical and trip hazards, obstructed fire exits, machine guarding, fall protection, hearing program, carbon monoxide exposure.
$251,330 for Locked Exits and Chemical Hazmat at Hawaii Refrigerated Food Warehouse
  • Willful violations include locked and sealed exit doors, failure to keep exit routes free and unobstructed and failure to label exit routes and post signs clearly indicating the route to the nearest exit. Inspectors found 13 exit doors locked from the outside and sealed shut.
  • 58 serious violations relate to safety management of hazardous ammonia refrigeration chemicals; missing stair railings; unguarded floor openings on stairway platforms; deficiencies in the company's plan for the response to workplace emergencies; and inadequate electrical equipment.
$235,800 for Repeat Violations at Illinois Lift-truck Manufacturer
  • Two willful violations for failing to provide welding screens and for violations of the respiratory protection program, including failing to provide medical evaluations, fit test workers, maintain respirators in a sanitary condition, store them properly and provide training on their use prior to work assignments.
  • Four repeat violations for failing to provide hazard communication training, ensure equipment is properly grounded, conduct daily and shift inspections of powered industrial vehicles and document monthly crane and hook inspections. 10 serious safety violations including failing to provide machine guarding; remove damaged vehicles from service; conduct PPE assessments or provide adequate protective equipment; label chemical containers; provide hazard information; and failure to implement an effective hearing conservation program.
$188,300 and SVEP for Lead Hazards at Ohio Bearing Manufacturer
  • Three willful violations for failing to conduct initial monitoring of workers exposed to lead and failing to provide training regarding the potential health hazards and necessary precautions to prevent lead exposure. Also for failing to develop a hazard communication program.
  • 10 serious violations include failing to develop a noise monitoring and lockout/tagout program to prevent the unintentional operation of machinery, provide fire extinguisher training and prevent worker exposure to airborne concentrations of both copper fumes and lead in excess of permissible exposure limits. Other serious violations include failing to develop and implement a written respiratory protection program, train workers on the program, prevent the use of respirators with an inadequate protection factor and ensure the proper wear of respirators. The company was placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
$150,700 for Repeat Safety Violations at Ohio Home Improvement Store
  • Seven repeat violations include blocked exit routes; failing to inspect flexible cords and then use cords with missing ground pins and damaged insulation; effectively close unused openings in electrical cabinets; use flexible wiring in lieu of required fixed wiring; and install plates on receptacles. Other violations include failing to review, sign and provide record-keeping documents within four hours, as requested by inspectors. The same violations were cited at various stores nationwide from 2010 through 2012.
  • One serious violation was cited for failing to bond and ground flammable, liquid storage containers during transfer to prevent accidental electrical discharge. Additionally, one repeat and one other-than-serious violation were cited for failing to include pertinent and specific information and report within seven days an incident on OSHA illness-and-injury log.
$148,400 for Failing to Guard Machines, Exposing Workers to Amputations at Texas Wood Company
  • Two willful safety violations for failing to provide workers with documented procedures on how to control potentially hazardous energy sources during machine or equipment maintenance and ensure that points of machine operations were guarded to prevent the exposure of any body parts in the danger zone during operation cycles.
  • Eight serious violations cited involve failing to ensure that dust collectors have proper explosion protection; ensure that all passageways, storerooms and service rooms were kept in a clean and orderly condition; ensure that energy control procedures were developed, documented and utilized; ensure that materials were stored in a stable or secure manner; ensure that powered industrial trucks were not used in the presence of combustible dust; ensure that one or more methods of machine guarding were provided to protect workers; ensure that unused openings in cabinets, boxes and fittings were closed; and ensure that equipment in hazardous locations were approved for the class of location due to the presence of combustible dust.
$147,000 for LOTO and Fall Hazards at a NY Ice Producer
  • Recurring hazards including failing to establish written mechanical integrity procedures for repair work and inspections, inspect and test process equipment in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations and train workers on required lockout/tagout procedures.
  • Nine serious violations include lack of handrails on stairways, failure to ensure authorized workers affixed lockout/tagout hardware on mechanical equipment under maintenance, and failure to provide permanent wiring in lieu of flexible cord sets.
$143,000 for Electrical, Fire, Machine Guarding and Health Hazards at Texas Oil and Gas Manufacturer
  • Serious violations include failing to guard machinery, provide a proper conduit for compressed air, ensure electrical equipment is approved for usage and ensure spray booths have fire prevention equipment. Additional safety violations include failing to keep flammable liquids in closed containers, prevent the accumulation of combustible dust, repair damaged pallet rack and properly repair and maintain forklifts. Serious health violations include failing to implement a hearing conservation program, provide proper eye and foot protection, provide chemical eyewash stations for workers exposed to corrosive chemicals and implement a hazardous chemical communication program.
  • Three other-than-serious violations were cited for failing to provide proper respirators, evaluate lead exposure and electrical hazards.
$127,000 for Grain Bin Safety Hazards at Georgia Farm
  • Two willful violations involve failing to ensure the screw auger is locked out when workers are inside the bin, and provide workers a body harness with a lifeline upon bin entry.
  • Six serious violations include failing to develop an emergency action plan, provide annual training on grain handling hazards and obtain permits addressing bin entry procedures and requirements. The company also failed to equip the workers who entered the bin with rescue equipment, allowed workers to walk on the grain and did not ensure that an observer was stationed outside during bin entry or was equipped to provide assistance in case of an emergency.
$117,500 for LOTO and Machine Guards at Alabama Steel Manufacturer
  • Two repeat violations for failing to develop, document and utilize procedures for potentially hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of equipment and failing to ensure guards and work rests on grinders were properly adjusted. The same violations were cited in July 2009.
  • Nine serious safety violations include failing to select and require appropriate hand protection for workers exposed to hazards; provide hardware to secure and block machines from energy sources while changing shims; conduct periodic inspections for specific procedures on equipment; provide training on the purpose and function of the energy control program; remove forklifts from service that had damaged parts; provide protective screens or personal protective equipment; and prevent worker exposure to unguarded and rotating parts on equipment. Four other-than-serious violations also were cited.

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