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October 16, 2013

Top OSHA Fines Total $3.8 million in September 2013

September was another big month for OSHA, which issued 14 6-figure citations with a total proposed value of 3.78 million. Common citations included LOTO, fall protection, machine guards and obstructed exit hazards. Here are some details of the cases. Most are still pending final decisions.

$1.3 Million for Willful Violations Causing Worker Death at South Dakota Manufacturer
  • A worker was fatally crushed in a machine after management instructed and authorized workers to bypass the manufacturer's barrier guard in order to adjust the machine to keep it running. OSHA conducted two concurrent safety and health investigations at the company in February 2012, which resulted in 66 violations. Because the willful violations cited caused the worker's death, the case was referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota for criminal prosecution.
  • The company agreed to: increase the size of its safety and health department; implement a companywide safety and health program; provide incentives for managers and workers to report safety issues and make safety recommendations; and to hire a qualified third-party to review guarding and lockout/tagout for all plant machinery and to audit the abatement of all identified hazards. The company will also report quarterly to OSHA for three years on safety progress and reportable illnesses and injuries, and redesign the safety systems and procedures on the radiator core machine involved in the fatality.
$336,000 and SVEP for Willful, Repeat and Serious Fall Hazards and Safety Violations by Massachusetts Contractor
  • Two repeat and four serious citations issued due to trusses not adequately braced during installation, workers exposed to falls of up to 12 feet, additional fall and struck-by hazards and uninspected and untagged rigging at a worksite in Plymouth.
  • At the Reading site, two willful citations were issued for lack of fall protection exposing workers to falls of 10 to 20 feet while framing exterior walls, making final deck attachments, constructing leading edges and receiving construction building materials.

$272,720 and SVEP for Fall Protection Hazards at Manhattan Construction Site
  • Four New York contractors face $272,720 in fines for safety hazards during the construction of a midtown Manhattan hotel. The largest penalties of $249,920 and SVEP status target the general contractor for seven violations of OSHA's fall protection and scaffolding standards that involved workers exposed to potentially fatal falls of up to 26 feet while they were on scaffolding.
  • Four willful citations were issued because the contractor failed to provide and ensure the use of fall protection, such as guardrails or personal fall- arrest systems, for workers on the scaffold; the scaffold lacked a safe means of access, causing workers to climb its cross-bracing to reach their work platforms; the work platforms were not fully planked; and the scaffold was not tied off to restrain it from tipping.
  • Serious citations were issued to all four contractors for violations including: failing to provide training on the hazards associated with erecting scaffolds; a scaffold walkway that was too narrow; inadequate anchorage for the fall protection system; lack of fall protection; no safe access to the scaffolding; not fully planking the scaffold platforms; failing to tie off the scaffolding; and not locking mobile scaffold wheels and casters. Additional violations included electrical hazards and failing to provide eye and face protection.
OSHA has created a Stop Falls Web page at with
information in English and Spanish on fall protection hazards and safeguards.

$262,000 and SVEP for 26 Violations Following Explosion at Illinois Paint Plant
  • Six willful violations. Two for exit doors locked from the outside and failure to provide unobstructed exit routes. One violation involved workers operating propane-powered industrial trucks in the production area where such use was not approved. Four more for process safety management standards, including failure to develop and implement written, safe operating and mechanical integrity procedures; ensure that equipment complied with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices; and conduct inspections and tests on process equipment.
  • 20 serious violations included inadequate storage of flammable liquids; various electrical equipment deficiencies; and additional violations of process safety management elements, including employee participation, process safety information, implementation of safe work practices, employee training, emergency action planning and alarm systems, process hazard analysis and compliance audits.
  • During a separate recent inspection in the same warehouse, the company was cited for 11 violations involving electrical equipment deficiencies; not implementing safe electrical work practices and not providing electrically rated personal protective equipment; omissions in chemical labeling; failure to develop a hazardous energy control program; forklift training deficiencies; and not having fall protection at a ladder hatchway providing access to the roof.
$199,500 for Repeat Obstructed Exit Access, Struck-by and Other Hazards at Brooklyn Retail Store
  • Recurring hazards include an obstructed exit route; unsecured and unstable stacks of boxes stored close to fire sprinkler heads; a stairway narrowed to an unsafe width by a conveyor; floors covered by a disorganized assortment of boxes, garbage bags and loose merchandise; and an uncovered electrical junction box.
  • Five serious citations, carrying $30,500 in proposed fines, involve a locked gate in front of an emergency exit; a stuck and difficult-to-open fire exit door; blocked access to a fire extinguisher; lack of fire extinguisher training for employees; and a missing stairway handrail.
An interactive eTool addressing evacuation plans and procedures and OSHA's emergency standards is available at

$194,000 for 10 Violations Following Trench Collapse at Lincoln, Nebraska Sewer Service
  • Six serious violations, including failing to: develop and implement a written hazardous communication program, provide workers with hazard recognition training, protect workers from exposed underground utilities, provide a means of safe access and egress during trenching and excavation work, provide a competent person for trench inspection prior to worker entry and provide trench cave-in protection.
  • Two willful and two serious violations for failing to provide cave-in protection to workers in a trench more than 5-feet-deep and to provide a competent person for trench inspection prior to worker entry. OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5-feet or deeper be protected against collapse.
Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available at

$185,560 for 30 Safety Violations at Wisconsin Paper Mill
  • Seven repeat safety violations include lack of machine guarding; not providing a suitable eyewash station for workers exposed to corrosive substances; electrical safety hazards, such as legibly marking circuit breakers; using compressed air at greater than 30 pounds per square inch for cleaning purposes; and improperly labeling containers of hazardous materials.
  • 17 serious violations included inadequate precautions to prevent ignition of flammable vapors and require usage of appropriate personal protective equipment to protect against burns; inadequate or lack of adequate guarding on wall openings, floor holes and open-sided platforms; lack of machine guarding on various pieces of equipment, including planers, saws and shafts; lack of machine warning lights; and improperly stored oxygen and gas cylinders.
  • Six other citations were issued for poor housekeeping, not marking confined spaces with signage, failing to post load capacities of storage areas, not labeling web sling capacity and failing to have individuals identified on lockout devices.
$175,000 for Crane Hazards Following Collapse at Arkansas Power Plant
  • Four companies received 26 citations totalling $175,000 after a crane collapse that killed 1 worker and injured 8 more. Violations included failing to provide an effective communication system to alert the operator or signalman through an emergency stop signal and failing to comply with crane-related hazards.
$170,100 for 24 LOTO and Other Violations at N.Y. Manufacturer
  • One willful violation for failure to develop, document and use lockout and tagout procedures for controlling potentially hazardous energy when workers performed maintenance on machines.
  • 16 serious violations, included failure to properly store, transfer and label flammable liquid; provide guards on saws and sanders; train workers on the proper use of a fire extinguisher; and address electrical and confined space hazards.
  • Six serious health violations were issued for failure to provide workers with adequate personal protective equipment and fit test respirators worn by workers.
$166,000 for LOTO, PPE, Other Violations at Texas Metal Extruder
  • One willful violation for failing to develop written procedures on how to lockout and tagout service panels and make them available to workers.
  • 14 serious violations included failing to ensure and verify a workplace hazard assessment; provide eye protection to workers with prescription eyeglasses; conduct periodic inspection of lockout/tagout operations; provide lockout/tagout training for affected workers; and ensure the use of specific shift change procedures to prevent serious injuries or fatalities.
  • Other violations include failing to ensure machine guards; legibly mark disconnections of the electrical panel breakers; provide a way to lock an equipment's means of disconnection in the open position; provide training on safe electrical work practices; ensure the de-energization of live electrical parts; ensure only qualified individuals work on electric circuit parts or equipment still energized; and provide workers with electrical protective equipment.
$137,400 for 21 LOTO and Other Violations at a Missouri Glass Manufacturer
  • One repeat violation, from October 2010, for improperly mounting metallic receptacle boxes to a firm surface. 13 serious violations including lack of e-stop devices on lathes, grinding, drilling and milling machines; failing to equip a lathe with a foot-operated guarding device; and unguarded floor holes and missing railings. Several additional safety violations relate to OSHA's lockout/tagout standards, such as failing to complete periodic audits, secure lockout/tagout devices with duct tape, follow adequate procedures and provide production workers with lockout devices and training on isolating energy sources to a bottle-making machine.
  • Five serious violations for failing to develop and implement a noise monitoring program; exposing workers to noise exposure levels above the time-weighted average; failing to ensure the use of hearing protection; lack of personal protective equipment and barrier guards to protect workers from excessive heat exposure; and failing to maintain clean and dry floors in work rooms.
  • Two other-than-serious violations include failing to identify machinery on periodic audit records and inspect fire extinguishers.
$132,800 and SVEP for Process Safety Violations at Nebraska Food Storage/Shipping Company
  • Four willful violations include failure to develop and implement written, safe operating and mechanical integrity procedures and measures to take for physical contact or airborne exposure to anhydrous ammonia. Others involve failing to correct deficiencies in equipment and to document responses to 2010 compliance audit findings, including 12 of 22 deficient audit items that remained uncorrected.
  • 10 serious violations included lack of emergency action planning; failing to maintain the original ammonia refrigeration systems process hazard analysis; exposing workers to crushing hazards by failing to remove and/or repair damaged storage racks; and failing to evaluate the performance of a powered industrial truck operator every three years. The other violations include failing to prevent electrocution from ice buildup encasing electrical junction boxes; operating equipment within 30 inches of a fork truck charging station; and install fixed wiring and provide strain relief for power cords.
$128,000 for Unguarded Machines and PPE at Seven N.Y. Supermarkets
  • 20 serious violations were cited at seven stores, where OSHA found butchers operating band saws with unguarded blades and other workers using cleaning products without protective eye gear, exposing them to lacerations, amputations and eye injuries. Four stores had locked or blocked exits, obstructed exit access and un-illuminated or missing exit signs.
  • 20 lesser citations were issued for failing to post required annual illness/injury summary, lack of chemical hazard communication program and training and electrical hazards.
$119,000 for LOTO and Safety Process After Explosion at Georgia Power Plant
  • Serious violations include failure to comply with OSHA's tagout procedures for power generation plants; ensure that the worker in charge conducted a safety briefing with workers before they start each job; use a tagout system without demonstrating it solely can provide full workers' protection; develop, document and use procedures to control potentially hazardous energy; and describe the scope, purpose, responsibility, authorization and techniques for maintenance procedures.
  • Other violations included failing to follow specific procedures to remove and transfer tagout devices; perform an annual inspection of all energy control procedures; use the shutdown procedures established for each machine or equipment; prohibit ignition sources near hydrogen or hydrogen sealing systems; assign a worker the responsibility for overall tagout control; and verify the isolation and de-energization of the machine or equipment.
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