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December 4, 2014

Significant OSHA Fines Total Just $875,000 in November 2014

OSHA announced just four significant fines in November with a proposed total of $875,010 (compared to 10 fines totaling $1.77 million in October). Common fines included fall and electrical hazards at a variety of locations. Most cases are still pending final decisions. Here are some details:

$342,250 and SVEP for Repeat Fall and Equipment Violations at a
Georgia Auto Parts Plant

Slippery floor - trip hazard
OSHA inspected the site after receiving a complaint alleging improper material handling and machine guarding hazards. "The high number of repeat violations of the same or similar hazards demonstrates that this employer is not concerned with protecting its permanent or temporary employees from occupational dangers," said an OSHA official.

Eight repeat violations involve exposing workers to slip and fall hazards due to soiled and slippery welding oils on floors; failing to protect workers from moving machine parts during service and maintenance; neglecting to protect employees from dangerous equipment with required guarding; and storing oxygen and acetylene cylinders improperly. The company was cited for these same violations in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

OSHA also cited 16 serious violations for an inoperable emergency stop pull cord, exposing workers to struck-by and crushing hazards, failure to ensure emergency exit signs were installed and operational, and failing to affix equipment to the floor, which exposed workers to fire. Three other violations included failure to label hazardous materials properly, workers using designed safety locks inappropriately and not standardizing safety locks. A temporary service that employs 100+ workers at the facility was cited with one violation for failure to remove its employees from exposure to unguarded pallet tippers.

In recent months, OSHA has received and investigated many reports of temporary workers suffering serious or fatal injuries, some in their first days on the job. Following these investigations, OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health issued a "Recommended Practices" publication that focused on ensuring temporary workers received the same training and protection as existing workers.

$330,800 for Electrocution, Fall and Crushing Hazards at a
Massachusetts Freight Terminal

crush hazard stay clear of this area"Several hazards were brought to management's attention, but the company took no corrective action, while other conditions were strikingly similar to violations previously cited at locations in Illinois and Mississippi," said a regional OSHA official.

The building's roof leaked water onto the work floor where electrical cabinets and forklift battery chargers were located. Employees stood in water while plugging in battery chargers and drove forklifts in slippery conditions, exposing them to electrocution, forklift tip-over and slipping hazards. Employees also were exposed to falls from the loading dock entrance ramp, which lacked required guardrails. Crushing or struck-by injuries arose from the use of defective forklifts, which were not removed from service. OSHA issued four willful violations for these issues.

Two repeat violations involved unstable and insecure stacking of materials and failure to inform employees of the dangers associated with hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Eight serious violations included inadequately evaluating workers' ability to operate forklifts; unattended forklifts; lack of fire extinguishers; and tripping and electrical hazards.

$101,400 for Repeat Fall and Electrical Hazards at a Virginia Shipyard
electrical hazardA May inspection under a local emphasis program found workers exposed to potential falls of up to 30 feet and other hazards. "Shipyard work is traditionally hazardous, with an injury and accident rate more than twice that of construction and general industry," said an area OSHA official.

In addition to unguarded manholes, fall protection was not provided for employees working on a barge, and because of defective equipment, employees were exposed to a number of electrical hazards while welding. These were repeat violations, previously cited in 2010. Four serious violations included expecting workers to use damaged electrical equipment and unguarded machinery. Four additional violations were cited for guarding, electrical and fire extinguisher hazards.

$100,560 for Repeat Fall Protection Hazards at Residential Construction
Sites in Pennsylvania
fall protection requiredOSHA inspectors found bricklayers exposed to fall hazards as high as 30 feet while working on single-family dwellings at two work sites. Workers on scaffolds had no fall protection, were exposed to other scaffolding safety hazards and were not trained properly. The company was cited for the same issue in 2012 and 2014.

Inspectors also cited the company for five serious violations for lack of a safety and health program and hazards, including the use of corrosive cement without providing proper personal protective equipment.

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