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July 2, 2014

Top OSHA Fines Approach $2 Million in June 2014

do not start energy source has been locked outOSHA issued just 9 significant fines in June - down from 16 in May - with a proposed total of $1.77 million. Two staffing agencies were cited along with their client companies. Common #OSHA violations included lockout-tagout, machine guarding, noise and chemical violations. Most are still pending final decisions. Here are some details:

$449,680 and SVEP for 23 willful and repeat violations at a Wisconsin chemical company
OSHA initiated an inspection in December 2013 after the company failed to fix hazards following an April 2012 fire. Five willful violations involve failing to establish safe operating procedures, develop safety information for equipment, correct problems and perform tests and inspections in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendation. Two more involve failing to provide specific procedures to protect workers from dangerous machines during maintenance, to provide ventilation for emissions, and to remove and replace temporary wiring installed during the fire restoration project.

OSHA cited one repeat violation for not properly fitting employees required to wear full and half-face, air-purifying respirators. 15 serious violations included process safety management regulations; forklift training; storage and availability of fire extinguishers; training employees on the proper use of personal protective equipment to avoid skin and respiratory tract contact with chemical irritants; obstructed exit routes; and violations of lockout/tagout procedures to isolate energy.

$286,200 and SVEP for 35 serious, repeat LOTO and noise violations at a Texas manufacturer
This inspection resulted from a complaint regarding a worker who was injured using an unguarded power tool. 22 serious violations include: failure to indicate identity of the employee applying a lockout/tagout device; not keeping hand tools in safe working condition; not maintaining PPE in a sanitary and reliable condition; failure to evaluate workers medically for physical fitness and to use air purifying respirators; and failure to maintain or replace breathing air filters as instructed by the manufacturer.

Four repeat violations for failure to conduct periodic inspections of lockout/tagout procedures and failure to guard machines at the point of operation. Similar violations were cited at a related facility in Springfield, Ohio. Nine other violations include failure to store compressed gas cylinders properly; record injuries and illnesses; identify and evaluate respiratory hazards; and fit test facepiece respirators before employee use.

$217,000 for national retailer that willfully and repeatedly put Montana workers at risk
caution keep all cylinders chainedOSHA began its inspection after receiving a complaint about dangerous conditions at a store in Missoula, and cited the company with three willful violations for failure to keep exit routes free and unobstructed, storing materials in unstable and unsecured ways and for using space around electrical equipment for storage.

One repeat violation was issued for failure to handle and store compressed helium gas cylinders securely. OSHA has cited the company for this exact violation at several stores across the country.

$182,270 for willful and repeat safety and health violations at a New Jersey bottling company
A beverage company and staffing agency each received citations following a referral from the local fire department when a temporary worker was injured after falling from a ladder. The company received one willful, one repeat, 17 serious and two other safety and health violations. The agency received two serious violations for failure to conduct a hazard assessment of the workplace, ensure that each employee was informed of the effects of noise on hearing and inform each employee about hearing protectors.

Company violations included a willful health violation was for not providing employees with annual audiograms, and a repeat citation for failure to provide proper machine guarding. Serious violations included excessive noise; slip, trip and fall hazards; and failing to ensure exit routes were adequate.

$145,200 for willful amputation hazards and excessive noise at a Wisconsin lumber company

warning do not operate without guardsOSHA received a complaint in December 2013 and conducted a comprehensive inspection of the entire facility because of the number and magnitude of hazards found. Four willful violations were issued for failing to: administer a hearing conservation program; provide eye and face protection; and implement lockout/tagout procedures.

An additional 13 serious violations include multiple incidents of failing to provide adequate machine guarding on shafts, belts, pulleys, saws, conveyors and drives. Others involved failing to develop and train workers in a hazard communication program, electrical safety violations and failing to conduct assessments for required personal protective equipment and permit-required confined spaces.

$135,200 for 18 noise, LOTO, chemical and other violations at a Texas fruit and vegetable processor
Total fines include $6,300 for a staffing agency that failed to provide chemical safety training. The fruit processor was cited for 12 serious violations for failing to: prevent workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals; identify and evaluate respiratory hazards in the workplace; and ensure a hearing conservation program was implemented. Other violations were cited for failing to: establish a written lockout/tagout program; provide machine operators with training; guard rotating gears; and provide safety instructions on the machines.

Two repeat violations were issued for failing to ensure sufficient working space around electrical equipment and unobstructed access to fire extinguishers. Similar violations were cited in 2012. Three other violations were cited for failing to record injuries of temporary workers, review the log for accuracy and ensure safety instructions were clearly posted on dangerous machines.

$125,000 for 7 failure-to-abate violations and more at a Texas sawmil
Seven failure-to-abate violations include: electrical hazards and failing to guard rotating parts, operation points, belts, pulleys, chains, sprockets and rotating shafts. Three serious repeat violations were cited for failing to provide fall protection and guard belts, pulleys and operation points of machines. Three repeat violations were issued for failing to follow listing and labeling instructions on electrical equipment, electrical disconnects for motors and branch circuits. Similar violations were cited in August 2013.

$121,660 for willful and repeat carbon dioxide exposure and 15 other hazards at a Louisiana food processor

danger carbon dioxide
Following a 2013 complaint inspection that resulted in four serious violations, a health referral was made based on employees being exposed to unsafe levels of carbon dioxide, which prompted another inspection.

One willful citation was issued for exposing workers to carbon dioxide levels deemed life threatening that were above the eight-hour time-weighted average of the permissible exposure limits. The employer failed to implement proper controls to reduce the carbon dioxide levels in the plant and provide workers with adequate respiratory protection.

14 serious violations include failing to guard moving machine parts; conduct annual inspections of lockout/tagout procedures, which protect workers who maintain and service machines from the machine's moving parts; properly identify respiratory hazards at the plant; include safety data sheets for carbon dioxide, sanitizer and boiler water treatment; and provide personal protective equipment.

One repeat violation was cited for failing to ensure an electrical panel box was enclosed to eliminate worker exposure to live electrical wires. A similar violation was cited in a 2012 inspection.

$110,400 for struck-by and 10 other hazards at a Missouri construction company

A worker suffered a broken vertebra when he was struck by a partially suspended load of sewer pipe and knocked to the bottom of an unprotected 13-foot-deep trench, where two others were working. OSHA issued one willful violation for failing to ensure workers were protected from cave-in hazards while working in a trench that exceeded a depth of 5 feet.

Ten serious violations were issued for exposing workers to being struck-by a partially suspended load; lack of adequate and frequent inspections of the work site for hazards; inadequate training of employees; lack of head protection; use of damaged rigging equipment; lack of permanently affixed legible identification markings on rigging equipment; and allowing an excavator to operate within 10 feet of energized, overhead power lines.

Other violations involved trenching standards, such as allowing exposed and unprotected gas and water lines in a trench, and failing to remove workers from a trench until necessary precautions were taken to ensure their safety.

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