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November 14, 2014

Top OSHA Fines Exceed $1.7 Million in Oct. 2014

OSHA issued 10 significant fines in October with a proposed total of $1.77 million. The top three fines were issued for fall hazards, blocked exits and whistleblower violations. Other common violations included machine guarding, chemicals and falls. Most cases are still pending final decisions. Here are some details:

$355,300 for Willful Fall and Other Hazards at a Florida Roofing Company
fall protection requiredOSHA initiated inspections beginning in March 2014 as part of its Regional Emphasis Program on Falls in Construction, and cited the employer for 12 violations, including failure to use available fall protection equipment, because they didn't have tie-down brackets.

Three willful violations, carrying $210,000 in penalties for failure to provide fall protection systems. Four repeat violations, with $108,900 in penalties, were cited for allowing workers to use powered nail guns without eye and face protection and for failing to extend ladders 3 feet above the landing surface for roof access. Three serious violations included using extension ladders improperly at two locations and failure to require employees to face the ladder when descending from the roof, and another violation for not clearing debris from the area around the bottom of the ladder.

$262,500 for Willful and Repeat Safety Hazards at a Texas Retailer
keep area clear at all timesTwo willful violations, with a penalty of $130,500, were cited for failing to ensure exit doors were kept clear and unobstructed and that products were stored in a stable and secure manner. Four repeat violations, carrying a penalty of $132,000, were cited for failing to keep passageways clean and clear and to secure compressed gas cylinders and prevent blocking of portable fire extinguishers and electrical panels. 

Across the nation, this retailer has been cited for more than 230 safety and health violations since 2009. In the past five months, OSHA has issued more than $800,000 in fines to the company for the same or similar violations.

$225,000 for Injury Reporting Retaliation by a Kansas Railroad
report all injuries immediatelyThe company wrongfully terminated an employee after he reported an injury. The company has been found in violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act and ordered to pay $225,385 in damages and back wages, remove disciplinary information from the employee's personnel record and provide whistleblower rights information to all its employees.

OSHA's investigation found the railroad company terminated the employee following an injury that required the employee to be transported to an emergency room and medically restricted from returning to work. OSHA determined the termination was retaliation for reporting the injury and in direct violation of the FRSA. 

$174,240 for Willful and Repeat Fall Protection Violations at an Illinois Home Builder 
hard hat areaThe company was cited 30 violations, including failure to provide fall protection to workers on three separate residential framing projects. In addition, the company has not paid any portion of $17,200 in previous penalties.

Three willful violations were issued for failing to provide fall protection. Seven repeat violations were cited for failure to provide protective helmets and fall protection training and improper use of an extension ladder. 20 serious violations included scaffold hazards, struck-by and electrical hazards. 

$145,420 for Repeat Forklift and Fall Hazards at an Illinois Trucking Terminal
forklift inspection checklistIn response to a complaint, OSHA inspected the site and issued one willful violation for failing to remove forklifts from service that needed repair. Five repeat violations included failure to have platform guardrails in place and to keep terminal dock and bay floors clean and dry. Additionally, the company failed to train workers on chemical hazards before assigning them to work with the substances, did not provide eye-drenching facilities for areas where corrosive chemicals were in use and failed to maintain the yard and terminal roadway free of potholes and hazards.

Two serious violations were issued for failing to have handrails on stairs with four or more risers, not installing slip-resistant treads on stairs and failing to guard the floor opening on a pit to prevent falls. 

$132,800 for Willful and Repeat Safety Violations at a Wisconsin Paint Manufacturer
emergency shut offAn inspection conducted after a complaint and three separate fires resulted in eight violations. Many of the violations were cited under Process Safety Management Standards, which contain specific requirements for managing highly hazardous chemicals in work processes. 

One willful violation was cited for failing to conduct necessary inspections and tests on emergency fire control, bypass and relief valves to ensure they were mechanically sound and not dangerous to operators. The company failed to follow recommended inspection timetables for pumps and motors. Two repeat citations involved failing to develop complete and accurate operating procedures and compile necessary process safety information. The company also failed to address the potential for static accumulation and discharge and train employees in the equipment processes and emergency shutdown procedures for the machines they were operating. The company did not ensure that procedures to maintain mechanical integrity were performed, such as inspecting valves and pipes. In addition, the company failed to inspect procedures and train workers on the hazards of servicing and maintenance, resulting in five serious violations.

$136,290 for Chemical and Safety Hazards at a New Jersey Cabinet Company
eye wash stationAs part of a Site-Specific Targeting Program for industries with high injury and illness rates, OSHA's March 2014 inspection cited the company for 15 violations, some involving the carcinogen methylene chloride. Three willful violations were cited for lack of a hazard communication program, hazard communication training and methylene chloride training. One failure-to-abate citation, with a $27,720 penalty, was issued for failure to install alarms on a walk-in spray booth. Four repeat violations were cited for damaging noise levels and respiratory program deficiencies. 

Seven serious violations included lack of personal protective equipment and eyewash facilities. An additional violation and penalty was cited because the company failed to provide injury and illness records within four hours of OSHA's request.

$134,000 and SVEP Following Fatality at an Ohio Chemical Company
do not operate. maintenance being performedFollowing the death of an employee, OSHA found 21 serious and two other-than-serious safety violations. Many of the violations involve Process Safety Management Standards, which contain specific requirements for managing highly hazardous chemicals used in work. 

Inspection found the company failed to ensure misaligned pipes and expansion joints were repaired properly and adequate safety shields were installed before returning to service. The company also failed to develop procedures for normal and emergency shutdown; address hazards for expansion joint failure; develop written procedures to maintain equipment used to process chemicals during maintenance; and train workers to install flexible expansion joints and associated equipment properly. The company also failed to conduct required inspections and maintain accurate inspection records; provide personal protective equipment, including clothing, boots, safety goggles and head coverings; and train workers to identify and handle hazardous chemicals.

$107,000 Lead, Respirator and Fall Violations at a Connecticut Construction Site
lead containing material follow company lead safety program25 serious violations were cited for inadequate safeguards against lead exposure, respirator deficiencies, falls and electrical hazards. Lead-related hazards included exposure to high lead levels from scraping lead-containing paint; failure to provide effective controls to reduce lead exposure levels; failure to determine lead exposure levels or conduct biological monitoring; and failure to train employees about lead hazards and safeguards. The company did not determine if the hazardous substances cadmium and arsenic were at the work site.

In addition, the company had no written respiratory protection program, did not train its employees on the purpose, selection, fitting, use and limitations of respirators, and failed to conduct medical evaluations to determine workers' fitness to wear respirators. The job site also lacked a hazard communication program to inform employees about the dangers present in their work area. Employees were exposed to falls from an unguarded work platform, to electric shock from ungrounded electrical outlets and mislabeled or misused electrical equipment.

$102,000 for MSD, Machinery and Fall Hazards at an Alabama Poultry Plant
warning do not operate without guardsOSHA issued 11 citations to the poultry processing plant, including nine serious, one repeat and one other-than serious violation. The investigation was initiated after the agency received a complaint from the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

One repeat violation was cited for failure to protect workers from moving parts of a machine during servicing and maintenance work. Seven serious violations involve exposing workers to serious safety hazards, including unguarded machines, slippery floors and fall hazards. In addition, OSHA issued two more serious general duty clause citations for musculoskeletal disorder hazards. 

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