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October 20, 2014

Top OSHA Fines Exceed $3.5 Million in Sept. 2014

$3.57 million in fines
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OSHA issued 17 significant fines in September (more than twice as many as August!) with a proposed total of $3.57 million. The top three fines were issued for confined space, chemical and fall protection violations. Other common violations included machine guarding, cranes and scaffolding. Most cases are still pending final decisions. Here are some details:

$497,000 and SVEP for willful confined space violations and more at an Illinois metal recycling plant

The company was cited for seven willful and one serious safety violations following the death of a worker whose arm was caught in a conveyor belt. At least three other workers were also exposed to dangerous, unguarded machines during cleaning operations. The workers entered a shredder discharge pit through a 2.5- by 3.5-foot opening to shovel metal scrap onto a takeaway conveyor system. This conveyor was not guarded and the shredder was not locked out prior to the workers entering the pit.

Willful violations include failing to implement training, procedures and practices for safe entry into the shredder pit and failing to inform employees of the dangers present in pit. The company also failed to prepare entry permits prior to allowing cleaning activities inside of the pit. Other willful violations include failing to utilize lockout-tagout and failing to conduct periodic inspections of equipment-specific lock out/tag out procedures. The company was placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).

$341,550 for chromium and other violations at an Oklahoma plating plant

respirator required in this areaWorkers were exposed to cancer-causing health hazards by inhaling, absorbing and ingesting hexavalent chromium. Nine repeat violations were cited primarily for chromium violations, including failure to: provide safe PPE for workers exposed to chromium; mark areas where chromium was sprayed; prevent ingestion of food and drinks and absorption of cigarettes in chromium-regulated areas; and properly train workers exposed to chromium, caustics and corrosives. 

An additional 29 violations including: failure to provide adequate walking and working surfaces; separate locker space and storage for street clothing and protective clothing; PPE hazard assessments; and guard power transmission belts. Respirator violations included failing to implement a respiratory program and fit test and ensure respirators were stored in a sanitary location. Chromium violations included failure to inform workers of their exposure records, provide adequate washing facilities and label chemical containers.

$300,000 for willful fall protection violations at a Connecticut roofing contractor

Follow fall protection guicelinesResponding to a complaint, an OSHA inspector found employees exposed to 10- to 16-foot falls while ripping shingles from a roofs at two locations and ladders that did not extend at least 3 feet above landings to ensure proper stability. Workers at one site were exposed to falls while improperly ascending ladders and faced possible electrocution from working without protection close to a working power line.

$274,700 for ammonia and procedure violations at a New York ice plant

AmmoniaOSHA cited the company for 19 violations of workplace safety standards following a comprehensive inspection. Several violations involve deficiencies in the plant's process safety management (PSM), program. Repeat hazards were cited for hazards including incomplete operating procedures, undocumented inspections and testing, failing to prove employees with process safety information, failing to document that process equipment complied with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices and inadequate work space in front of electrical equipment. Other hazards included a lack of required exit routes; a locked exit door; failure to train employees in emergency response; unguarded and unanchored machinery; improper storage of oxygen and acetylene tanks; the use of improperly rated electrical switches in a wet environment; incomplete process safety information; lack of employee participation in process safety management; and failure to verify that employees understood process safety management training.

$261,787 for whistleblower violations by a Kansas medical waste company

The company has been found in violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act for wrongfully terminating a transportation supervisor because the worker raised safety concerns after a driver was instructed to pull a trailer without a valid license plate. OSHA has ordered the company to reinstate the employee, pay back wages and damages of $261,787, and remove any references to the disciplinary action from the employee's record. The company must also provide notification of whistleblower protection rights to its employees. 

$235,700 for repeat scaffold and fall protection violations at a Pennsylvania masonry contractor

scaffold permit requiredThe contractor, which was already in the OSHA SVEP program, was cited for failure to use scaffolding with adequate bracing to prevent tipping or collapse and to provide fall protection for employees working up to a height of 32 feet. Repeat citations were issued for additional scaffolding hazards, lack of training on fall dangers and failure to develop and implement a hazard communication program. The company was cited for similar violations in 2011 and 2012.  

$234,960 for repeat fall and other violations at an Alabama condiment manufacturer

machine locked outOSHA initiated an inspection due to a complaint and to complete a follow-up to a previous inspection. OSHA issued repeat citations for failure to provide guard rails for staircases and open-sided platforms, maintain dry floors in areas where oil and water were mixed, and train workers to turn off machinery to prevent accidental startup while performing maintenance and services. Additionally, the employer exposed workers to being struck by falling stock from damaged metal shelves, amputation and electrical hazards.

Serious citations included exposing workers to electrical hazards from improperly labeled wiring, not providing workers with required training to operate an industrial truck, failure to develop procedures to prevent accidental startup and to identify the energy shut-off valves properly on machinery.

$234,900 for amputation and noise hazards at a Texas stone manufacturer

Do not operate without guards in placeTwo willful violations were cited for failure to conduct hearing tests for workers exposed to noise levels exceeding 90 decibels and failure to guard large, circular stone saws; a hazard that could result in severe injury or death. 23 serious violations were cited for failure to provide proper sanitation, guard machines, inspect cranes and repair electrical hazards. Two other violations were cited for failure to maintain the injury and illness logs and provide workers with the respiratory protection standard's Appendix D for voluntary use of respirator devices.

$188,650 for willful and repeat fall protection violations by a Florida construction company

OSHA inspectors observed employees at three area work sites performing residential construction without using a fall protection system. Three willful violations were cited for failure to provide a fall protection system at two job sites, where employees were conducting decking work at heights of 6 feet or more, and for allowing workers to use the top step of a stepladder. Two repeat violations were issued for permitting workers to use pressurized nail guns without providing proper eye protection and failing to provide fall protection systems for employees working on steep roofs at elevations between 10 and 16 feet.

$168,000 for fatal crane-related violations at a Massachusetts electrical company

extend crane outriggersThe deaths of two workers in a crane tip-over could have been prevented if their employer had set up and operated the crane according to the manufacturer's instructions and trained employees in its proper operation. The employees were working from a raised personnel platform attached to a truck-mounted crane. They were working on power lines when the crane overturned and fell more than 150 feet to the ground.

Two willful violations were cited because workers were not properly trained or evaluated on crane prior to use, supervisors did not follow procedures for setting up and operating the crane in accordance with the crane's safety manual, even though the manual was in the crane and at the job site, and they also did not conduct proper pre-lift planning and other required tests to ensure that the lift could be done safely. OSHA also cited the company for four serious violations, including not using load charts to determine the crane's minimum boom angle, not using an aerial lift, allowing the crane to operate at greater than 50 percent of the rated capacity for its configuration and for failing to conduct a trial lift of the personnel platform prior to use.

$162,000 for fall and other hazards by a Florida roofing contractor

save your eyes wear eye protectionAfter receiving complaints, OSHA inspected and cited the contractor for exposing workers to falls and other hazards while they performed roofing work at two residential work sites in Jacksonville. Willful citations were issued at each site for allowing employees to perform roofing work at heights of 8 to 12 feet without fall protection. A repeat violation was issued for failure to ensure employees wore eye protection, which exposed workers to eye injuries from flying debris and nails. Two serious violations were cited for failure to ensure workers on the ground wore head protection while cleaning up debris thrown from the roof and for failure to extend the side rails of a ladder 3 feet above the upper landing surface to provide roof access. Another violation was cited for failure to provide a first aid kit for employees. 

$134,400 and SVEP for willful and serious violations after a cell tower collapse in Kansas

inspect slings before useFollowing the death of two workers when a cell tower they were dismantling collapsed, OSHA issued two willful and four serious safety violations and placed the company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). The tower technicians were using a load-lifting gin pole attached to the side of the tower with a wire rope sling. The sling failed, causing the gin pole to fall and bring the tower down with it. Both workers fell to the ground during the collapse. The company failed to inspect the slings prior to use and provide protection to the slings when rigged over sharp objects. These failures resulted in the issuance of two willful violations. Serious citations were issued for failure to conduct an engineering survey and develop a rigging plan prior to beginning the demolition process. Additionally, the company did not provide the technicians a load chart for the gin pole in use or operator manuals.

$133,900 for confined space and other violations by a Nebraska rail car facility

OSHA initiated an inspection after receiving a report of the illness from the Nebraska Department of Labor Workers' Compensation Division. The inspection found that the company allowed employees to enter rail cars to perform repair tasks, including welding, without implementing procedures required under OSHA's permit-required confined space regulations. Three repeat violations were issued for failure to implement training, procedures and practices for safe entry into these spaces, including the company's failure to evaluate for hazards, and to provide workers with communication devices or implement measures to prevent unauthorized entry.

Serious violations were cited for failure to provide administrative and engineering controls to reduce damaging noise exposure, electrical hazards and lack of atmospheric controls in confined spaces. its.

$130,200 and SVEP for amputation, fall and crane hazards at an Ohio aluminum plant

Caution do not ride on forkliftFollowing a complaint, OSHA inspectors found this company allowed workers to stand on blocks elevated by a forklift. "And that's just one visible example of the total disregard for worker safety and health at this plant," said OSHA's area director in Cleveland. The inspection found one willful violation for insufficient machine guarding on a robot cell that exposed workers to amputation hazards. A second willful violation was cited for failing to remove a crane with broken safety mechanisms from service. Repeat violations were issued because workers were exposed to a fall hazard of more than 23 feet into an open pit with no guard rails, and employees that worked in the pit area were not provided fall protection.

Two serious violations were cited when workers were found standing on aluminum blocks elevated by a forklift to perform tasks on a furnace, an inappropriate use of the forklift that also exposed workers to falls of at least 8 feet. OSHA also found that live electric equipment operating at high voltages was not guarded against human contact.

$126,700 for machine hazards at an Ohio steel manufacturing plant

Following a compliant, an inspection found workers were exposed to amputation injuries because mechanical power presses did not have required guards. Other amputation hazards, such as lack of machine guarding and failure to implement specific lockout/tagout procedures to prevent machinery from operating during service and maintenance were found at the facility. In addition, the company failed to perform periodic inspections of the mechanical power presses; exposed workers to slips and falls from unguarded floor openings; failed to provide eye protection and to conduct annual fire extinguisher training; and did not label hazardous chemical containers properly.

$120,120 and SVEP following a confined space fatality at a South Dakota grain elevator

Danger confined space enter by permit onlyA 51-year-old worker was fatally injured when he became engulfed in flowing grain in a railcar load-out elevator. The worker had attempted to remove a jam from a chute while the auger operated. OSHA's inspection found that the company allowed employees inside the grain bin while the auger and conveyor systems operated, despite a comprehensive safety and health program in place that outlined how to keep workers safe in the grain bin. This resulted in a willful violation

Repeat violations were issued because the company failed to complete a confined space entry permit before allowing workers to enter grain bins and to provide fall protection for workers exposed to falls of up to 60 feet while performing work activities around an unguarded floor opening in the main elevator shaft. Additional citations were issued for violations related to OSHA's permit-required confined space regulations and grain handling standards. The company also allowed grain bin dust to accumulate, which created a combustible dust hazard, and used equipment that provided a potential source of ignition for combustible dust. Other equipment lacked machine guarding, and the company failed to ensure the use of protective equipment, such as body harnesses with a lifeline, while employees performed required work operations in grain elevators.

$108,020 for willful, repeat fall hazards at an Illinois truck terminal

OSHA opened an inspection under the Local Emphasis Program for Powered Industrial Vehicles and issued one willful violation for failing to remove from service a forklift that needed repair. Three repeat violations were issued, including failure to provide adequate fall protection at dock door openings because guard rails were not in place, which exposed workers to falls of more than 4 feet. The company was cited for failure to inspect forklifts before use and for not grounding electrical equipment properly. One serious violation was issued an exit door locked from the inside. 

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