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January 12, 2015

December 2014 OSHA Fines Total $3.3 million

OSHA enforcement officials finished 2014 with a bang - issuing 20 significant penalty proposals in December! These 20 potential fines total $3,318,680, the third-highest total of the year. Common violations include: Fall hazards, LOTO and more. Here are some details on the top five actions:

$283,600 for LOTO and Fall Hazard violations at a Texas manufacturer already in SVEP

caution do not operate tagThe company, which was placed in the SVEP program in 2011, was issued four repeat violations and a $154,000 penalty for failure to utilize lockout/tagout procedures when performing machine service or maintenance; not installing point of operation and general machine guarding; and failure to guard electrical panels. An additional $70,000 was issued for a willful violation of failing to protect workers from falls of heights from 4 to 15 feet in a storage yard and from an open-sided floor with no walls that exposed workers to falls to a lower level.

10 serious violations included failure to provide crane control markings to prevent the operator from moving the crane in the wrong direction and dropping the load; improperly using the lifting eye on the welder and not on other machinery; and failure to use fuel gas and oxygen cylinder valve protection caps. Additional serious violations included slip hazards; inadequate material storage; an unguarded grinder; and lack of covers for electrical outlets.

$260,000 for whistleblower violations at a Connecticut railroad

no-accident zone. safety comes firstActions against an injured worker have resulted in the largest punitive damages ever in a retaliation case under the Federal Railroad Safety Act. The worker was retaliated against after reporting a knee injury. As a result, the company has been ordered to pay the employee a total of $250,000 in punitive damages, $10,000 in compensatory damages and to cover reasonable attorney fees.

A supervisor also intimidated the worker while driving him to the hospital, reportedly telling the worker that railroad employees who are hurt on the job are written up for safety and are not considered for advancement or promotions within the company. Shortly after the employee reported the work-related injury, the company issued disciplinary charges against him.

$241,680 and SVEP for LOTO failures at an Illinois bird food manufacturer

watch your hands and fingersAn employee clearing birdseed from an industrial mixing tank had his left hand and arm severely injured after they were caught in a moving piece of machinery. OSHA cited the company for three willful, one repeat and four serious violations for failing to lockout energy sources. 

The company also failed to conduct periodic inspections of written protocols related to locking out machines and did not train workers on these procedures and failed to provide machine guarding on another piece of equipment. Four serious safety violations were for failure to provide eye protection; using damaged electrical cords; failure to perform fire extinguisher education; and unmarked exits.

$230,400 for fall, crushing, noise and other hazards at a Massachusetts concrete company

operator must wear ear protectionActing on a worker complaint, OSHA found employees in danger of falling, being crushed and deafened due to a lack of required safeguards. The inspection resulted in two willful, 18 serious and six other violations. OSHA found employees atop concrete formwork and structures lacked fall protection, and employees exposed to excess noise levels did not receive baseline audiograms. 

Inspectors also cited the company for an uninspected crane and for failing to employ a qualified crane operator; improperly operated and unattended forklifts; unsafe arrangement of loads on forklifts, unguarded saw blades and hazardous electrical equipment. An agency that supplies temporary workers was fined $7,000.

$188,400 and SVEP for lack of rescue equipment leading to a fatality at an Illinois railcar recovery operation

Confined space. Test atmosphere before enteringThe company did not have equipment or trained personnel to promptly rescue a 27-year-old worker who collapsed and later died while cleaning a rail car. OSHA cited seven willful and 14 serious safety violations, many involving permit-required confined space safety regulations. The company failed to monitor permit-required confined spaces; allowed entry when atmospheric conditions were unacceptable; and did not provide personal protective equipment. It failed to remove defective respirators from use. 

In addition, the company failed to designate trained rescue employees and use a retrieval system attached to the worker to aid in rescue. OSHA cited the company for seven willful violations. The company failed to comply with respiratory protection requirements, maintain rescue equipment, ensure ventilation equipment was used properly, and provide fall protection for workers at the top of the rail car, which exposed them to falls of 15 feet or more. A total of 14 serious citations were issued for these violations.

Other December actions resulting in significant fines:

  • $186,000 for retaliation against workers at a Washington power plant
  • $181,800 for amputation and electrical hazards at a stamping plant in Texas
  • $169,000 for willful, serious excavation hazards at a Florida construction company
  • $162,500 for forklift and training violations at a New Jersey beer distributor
  • $161,000 for failure to provide cave-in protection at an underwater construction company in Florida
  • $140,000 for LOTO and machine guarding hazards at an Ohio auto trim plant
  • $140,000 for fall hazards at a roofing company in Nebraska
  • $132,900 for explosion and chemical hazards at a New Jersey nail polish manufacturer
  • $132,000 for asbestos hazards at 6 renovation firms in Illinois
  • $127,000 for machine hazards and LOTO violations at a Louisiana packaging firm
  • $126,000 for LOTO, training and audit failures at a steel company in Texas
  • $124,000 for electrical hazards at a Wisconsin distribution center
  • $120,000 for hazardous chemical violations at a New Jersey chemical company
  • $109,400 for extreme temperature and other hazards at a frozen food plant in Wisconsin
  • $103,000 for improper storage and electrical violations at a Delaware retailer

Review the full list of OSHA December news releases for full details.

Browse LOTO tags, fall protection & machine safety signs at

1 comment:

  1. That is a lot of money just for safety violations. It would be nice to be the company that is in charge of giving all those violations. Bringing in all that money, just by telling people they are not safe sounds pretty good. But, it does make sense. Safety is one of the most important things that companies need to comply with, as there are often human lives on the line.