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January 22, 2014

Top December 2013 OSHA Fines Exceed $2.7 million

OSHA enforcement ended the year with a bang, issuing 17 6-figure citations in December - more than any other month in 2013. Total proposed fines topped $2.7 million in December, ranking 4th for the year. The 119 significant citations (over $100,000) issued in 2013 carried $25.2 million in proposed fines.

Many repeat and willful violations contributed to the high dollar value of December fines. Here are some details of the cases. Most are still pending final decisions.

$460,000 and SVEP for repeat fall and scaffolding hazards at New York painting contractor
    fall protection required
  • Workers were exposed to falls of more than 26 feet from numerous fall and scaffolding hazards, many of which were similar to those cited during previous OSHA inspections. The recurring hazards include not having the scaffold self-inspected for defects by a competent person during scaffold erection and before workers began to work on the scaffold.
  • New hazards included lack of fall protection for workers erecting the scaffolding; scaffold erected on unsound footing; workers climbing the scaffold's cross bracing during erection; and lack of eye protection. Due to the nature and severity of violations, the company was placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
Information on fall protection standards is available in English and Spanish at http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls.

$293,700 and SVEP for multiple violations at Ohio casting company
  • One repeat violation for failing to de-energize an industrial robot and implement lockout/tagout procedures prior to performing servicing and maintenance work on the equipment.
  • Four willful violations for failing to develop lockout procedures for servicing and changing molds on various production cells, prevent exposure to molten aluminum splash hazards from the melting furnace, inspect chains on a daily basis and prevent use of an unapproved work platform to lift workers with the fork truck.
  • Eight serious violations for failing to install guardrails near ovens and floor openings to prevent fall hazards, perform protective equipment assessments, require the use of face shields and hard hats, ensure adequate guarding on 21 machines in the foundry areas, provide lockout procedures, ensure use of an electrical cabinet is protected from water, label lifting devices with load capacities and provide safety data sheets to workers.
 
$199,800 for repeat machine guarding violations at Texas pipe manufacturer
  • Repeat violations were cited for failing to guard punch presses and band saws, provide lockout/tagout training regarding energized sources and conduct an annual review of lockout/tagout procedures. The company was previously cited for similar violations in 2011.
  • Serious violations included failing to secure a fuel gas cylinder, use undamaged slings for lifting and moving equipment and provide strain relief for electrical wiring.
  • In 2011, the company was cited for 42 safety and health violations, including failing to guard the point of operations on band saws, shears and press brakes. The company already had been inspected three times in 2013, and cited for willful and two serious violations including failing to provide machine guarding on two separate occasions and provide abatement documentation.

$167,750 for failing to correct safety and chemical hazards at Connecticut welding company.
  • A follow-up inspection was held after the employer failed to provide abatement documents proving correction of violations cited in August 2012. Eight specific hazards were left uncorrected, including failing to provide welding screens near welding stations; maintain suitable extinguishing equipment in ready condition during welding operations; provide workers with training on hazardous chemicals in their work area; store oxygen and fuel gas cylinders separately and install safety guards on machinery.
  • The company also received a serious citation for blocked access to electrical panels.

$154,000 for willful fall hazard violations at Florida roofing company
  • The company was cited following the electrocution death of a worker. The citation involves exposing workers to fall hazards of approximately 30 feet by not ensuring usage of a fall protection system. Another citation involved workers engaged in residential construction up to 19 feet above ground without guardrail systems, a safety net system, a personal fall arrest system or any alternative fall protection measure.
  • Two serious violations involve directing a worker to use a metal extension ladder to gain access to a rooftop in close proximity to high-voltage power lines that were not deenergized, grounded or guarded. The employer allowed the worker to use a metal extension ladder lacking nonconductive side rails when in close proximity to high-voltage power lines.

$150,000 for amputation and other hazards at Georgia food company
  • Repeat violations involve failing to ensure workers performing equipment servicing and maintenance understood the energy control program and procedures and those for caught-in and amputation hazards from the points of operation on equipment in the production area.
  • Serious violations include failing to clearly and specifically outline the energy control procedures for all energy sources on the mixers and production equipment; instruct each affected worker on the purpose and scope of the energy control program; ensure authorized workers in the energy control program were utilizing lockout procedures when performing service on mixers; cover drainage troughs and guarded platforms to prevent trip and fall hazards; exposure to amputation and caught-in hazards from protruding shaft ends and unguarded chain and sprockets and obstructed exit routes. Other violations include failing to ensure workers spraying corrosive chemicals use splash goggles; provide an emergency eyewash station; provide appropriate hand protection; and conduct audiograms for temporary workers exposed to noise levels in excess of permissible exposure limits.

$147,000 and SVEP for machine guard removal resulting in amputation at a Kansas food processor
  • An amputation occurred while workers were cleaning conveyor equipment. Guarding on the conveyor was removed, exposing workers to rotating parts. A worker's frock and the employee's arm were then pulled into moving gears of a conveyor that had not been locked out to prevent unintentional operation.
  • Two willful violations were cited for failing to train workers on lockout/tagout procedures and to lock out equipment to prevent the unintentional operation of equipment and exposure to amputation hazards.
  • One serious violation involves fall hazards when workers ascend the upper platform work area in two separate plant locations. The company failed to provide fixed stairs to reach the work areas.
  • Due to the nature and severity of violations, the company has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The plant has been inspected by OSHA five times in the past 10 years, resulting in seven violations.

$133,000 for repeat confined space and health violations at Kansas train car facility
  • Repeat violations were issued for failing to ensure fall protection systems covered areas where work was conducted and workers were vulnerable to fall exposure. A fall protection system was inadequate to cover the number of workers exposed, and the company did not require usage of the system. The company also failed to train workers on chemicals used in their work area and did not provide annual respirator training.
  • Five repeat citations involve permit-required confined spaces, including failing to evaluate work spaces, such as hopper cars, for confined space requirements and atmospheric conditions; inform exposed workers of the existence and location of confined spaces; use entry permits; and provide training to workers.
  • Two serious violations involve failing to evaluate workers medically for respirator usage and to prevent the use of compressed breathing air that was not of the proper grade. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known existed.

$131,600 for previously cited hazards at New York manufacturer
  • The company was originally cited for seven violations of workplace safety standards. A follow-up inspection was conducted in June after the company failed to respond to the citations or submit proof that it had corrected the cited hazards.
  • Six failure-to-abate notifications were issued for unguarded moving machine parts; no procedures to prevent the unintended startup of machinery during maintenance; unapproved use of electrical equipment; excess pressure for a compressed air hose used for cleaning and not providing workers with fire extinguisher training.
 
$119,000 for electrical violations at Wisconsin foundry
  • After a worker was severely burned by an electrical arc flash, a willful violation was cited for failure to ensure protective equipment was used while operating the circuit breaker with the cover removed thus exposing workers to electrical shock, arc blast and flash hazards.
  • Seven serious violations were cited, including: Failing to implement electrical safety-related work practices and use protective shields, barriers and insulating materials; Reenergizing circuits before determining conditions were safe; Failing to conduct air test on insulating rubber gloves prior to use and to electrically test gloves every six months; Failing to conduct periodic inspections of machinery; Lack of training in safety-related electrical work practices specific to their job assignments and Re-energizing circuits before determining that the equipment and circuit could be safety energized.

$119,000 for hazardous material exposures at Kansas manufacturer

21 serious health violations include failing to:

  • Ensure that all surfaces were maintained as free as practicable from arsenic, lead and cadmium.
  • Develop and implement a housekeeping and maintenance plan and ensure the use of effective cleaning methods for these contaminants.
  • Train workers on hazards of materials containing contaminants and to use personal protective equipment.
  • Monitor exposure to materials.
  • Provide clean changing rooms to prevent cross-contamination with street clothing.
  • Determine the airborne concentrations of lead, cadmium and inorganic arsenic.
  • Provide coveralls and other personal protective clothing, such as gloves and shoe coverlets.
  • Develop an effective respiratory protection program.
  • OSHA opened a separate safety investigation after observing hazards during the health investigation and issued six serious safety violations including: failing to establish an effective lockout/tagout program to prevent the unintentional operation of machinery; provide machine guarding; prevent electrical shock hazards due to improper and damaged wiring; and ensure knockouts on junction boxes and covers on live electrical parts to prevent exposure.

$117,000 for unsafe conditions at Illinois metals company
  • 17 serious violations were cited for failing to provide machine guarding on slitters and radial arm saws; complete periodic inspections of overhead cranes within the past 12 months; and to provide guardrails and energy control procedures. Several violations relate to electrical safe work practices, such as failing to provide covers on live transformers; prevent use of extension cords when fixed wiring is required; and provide electrical protective equipment, such as gloves, fire-retardant- rated clothing and eye and face protection. In addition, the company failed to evaluate and determine whether any of the five production pits were permit-required confined spaces.
  • Twelve other-than-serious violations involve failing to conduct personal protective equipment assessments; provide a written emergency evacuation plan; post load rating signs; maintain records of crane and rope inspections; train workers on energy control procedures; and poor housekeeping practices that allowed wood dust to accumulate and create a fire hazard.

$115,000 for recurring safety hazards at New York manufacturing plant
  • A recent inspection identified several hazards similar to those cited during a 2009 inspection. The employer failed to ensure guarding on the operating parts of machinery, including a fryer, a peeler and packaging equipment; train workers on the unintended startup of machinery; secure stacked materials from collapsing or sliding; remove damaged electrical parts from service; and keep work areas clean and orderly. These conditions resulted in the company being cited for nine repeat violations.
  • Additional hazards include a locked exit door; blocked exit access; exit lighting not working properly; missing guardrails; fire extinguishers not fully charged; unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals; an unsecured liquefied petroleum gas container; and several electrical hazards.

$112,000 for repeat and serious violations at Connecticut metal forge
  • Two repeat safety violations involve using an extension cord instead of the proper fixed wiring and using damaged electrical cords. Serious safety violations include fall hazards, electrical hazards and a lack of adequate training and safe work procedures to protect workers on or near energized electrical equipment. Additionally, the company failed to inspect and properly tag chain slings used to lift forging dies and ensure blades on a fan had adequate guarding to protect workers from injury.
  • Repeat health violations involve failing to have a written hazard communication program available for workers and to use tongue guards properly on machinery. The serious health violations include failing to train workers properly on how to avoid hearing loss, and ensure the use of noncombustible or flameproof screens to protect workers engaged in welding operations from exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the generated electric arc.

$110,500 for lead exposure at Illinois railroad
  • One willful violation for failing to conduct initial monitoring of employees for lead exposure.
  • Six serious violations cited failing to provide appropriate respiratory protection and protective clothing; not providing changing areas and storage for street clothes to prevent lead contamination and the transfer of lead from the job site to home; lack of hand-washing stations; and allowing consumption of food and drink in work areas where lead may be present. The company was also cited for failing to utilize engineering controls, including water misting, long-handled torches and ventilation systems to reduce employees' exposure to lead.

$105,000 for repeat safety violations at Connecticut plastics manufacturer
  • Wilful citation not inspecting or testing process equipment, including an isopentane tank, piping and pressure relief valves. One repeat citation was issued for a lack of written procedures to maintain the ongoing integrity of process equipment. A similar hazard was cited in 2009.
  • Six serious citations were issued for incomplete process safety information, hazard analyses and documentation, and for lack of readily available fire extinguishers and fire extinguisher training. Four more were issued following an incident in which a forklift operator struck and injured a pedestrian in a company warehouse.

$103,000 for exposing roofing workers to fall hazards by Illinois residential roofer
  • Two workers were observed installing asphalt shingles on a residential roof at heights of 10 and 18 feet without fall protection, resulting in a willful violation for failing to ensure workers use fall protection while performing residential roofing.
  • One repeat violation was cited for failing to have an extension ladder that can extend 3 feet over a landing surface. Two serious violations were cited for failing to maintain safety programs for fall protection and ladder safety and to have competent individuals inspect job sites regularly.
Get more details on these and other December citations here.
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