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February 13, 2015

Top OSHA Fines Pass $3.1 Million in January 2015

OSHA released details on 16 significant fines in January. Proposed fines total $3.1 million, compared to $3.3 million in December. The average significant fine in January was just less than $200,000. Common citations included fall protection and chemical hazard violations.

$511,000 and SVEP following a fatal fall by a Missouri steel worker

In July, a 22-year-old apprentice ironworker fell more than 30 feet to his death while standing on a 9-inch-wide steel girder at a Kansas city construction site. On the job for just a few weeks, the worker was not provided fall protection.

OSHA inspection found that the steel subcontractor violated its own safety manual and a signed contract with the site's general contractor regarding fall protection. In addition, the company allowed workers to climb scissor lift guardrails to access the steel frame and decking and allowed them to climb the rails of the aerial lift basket. A total of seven willful violations were cited.

Three serious safety violations resulted from makeshift devices on scaffold platforms to increase working height, failure to inspect fall arrest systems before use and failure to instruct workers on use and application of fall protection equipment. The general contractor on the site was also cited for four serious violations, including lack of fall protection during steel erection activities, using makeshift devices to increase working heights and climbing the guardrails of aerial and scissor lifts. View the citations here.

$378,070 and SVEP for chemical hazards at an Ohio scrapyard
Three employees were exposed to dangerous levels of lead, arsenic, iron oxide and copper particles and fumes while torch-cutting steel at an Ohio scrapyard. Their employer did not provide required personal protective equipment or health monitoring.

OSHA found the workers were not required to shower at the end of shifts to prevent metal particles from being transported. The company also failed to implement engineering controls that would have limited exposure; provide separate containers to dispose of lead-contaminated clothing; and ensure that workers required to wear respirators were clean-shaven. These resulted in five willful violations.

Additional citations were issued for overexposure to iron oxide, lack of hygiene and housekeeping practices; failure to implement an arsenic compliance program; not providing properly fitted respirators; and failure to train workers in respiratory protection use and storage. The host employer and a subcontractor also received citations and fines related to lead exposure. View the citations here. (pdf)

$266,000 and SVEP for deadly confined space violations at an Illinois feed facility

A 37-year-old worker climbed down into a rail car to clean out corn steep residue and was overcome by dangerous hydrogen sulfide gas. A 29-year-old tank inspector, who attempted to rescue the first worker, succumbed to the gas exposure as well. Neither worker made it out of the car alive.

OSHA determined that neither victim was equipped with an emergency retrieval system before entering the car. The primary cause of death of both employees was closed space asphyxiation and hydrogen sulfide intoxication, a byproduct of the residual organic waste contained in the tank. The company also failed to complete a permit-required confined spaces entry permit; did not use testing and monitoring equipment to evaluate the space prior to entry; and failed to require employees to use rescue and emergency equipment.

OSHA also found the company failed to designate trained rescue employees and use a retrieval system attached to the worker to aid in rescue; train workers and place warning signs about hazards that may be encountered in confined spaces; and ensure rail tank cars had been ventilated prior to entry. Eight serious citations were issued for these violations. View the citations. (pdf)

$241,500 and SVEP for amputation hazards at an Illinois grain company

A newly hired worker suffered multiple fractures when his leg and foot became entangled in a running mechanical auger while he was in a grain storage bin. OSHA determined the company allowed hazards to exist in the grain bin and identified three willful and five serious safety violations.

The employee, who had been on the job approximately three months, was also exposed to engulfment hazards from corn stored inside the bin. Confined space regulations were violated by failing to have an observer monitor the worker while inside the grain bin. Inspectors also found the company failed to train employees on grain bin and confined space hazards and neglected to provide adequate rescue equipment to employees who entered the bin. See the citations. (pdf)

$201,000 for serious and willful health violations at a New York hospital

The hospital in Northern Manhattan replaced linen laundry bags with thin plastic bags that broke and needlessly exposed workers to laundry contaminated with blood, bodily fluids and other infectious materials. Clothing, sheets, towels and other soiled laundry spewed onto the floor of the basement when bags broke or failed to stay closed as they came down laundry chutes. Employees were further exposed as they gathered and repacked the laundry.

Following a complaint, OSHA identified numerous violations of its bloodborne pathogen standard, which details how employers protect their employees against exposure to blood, bodily fluids and other potentially infectious materials. OSHA also found the medical center failed to provide all exposed workers with protective gloves and outer garments; hand-washing facilities; a cleaning or decontamination schedule; and failed to provide employees with bloodborne hazard training appropriate to their education, literacy and language level.

The facility also failed to screen incoming patients for an increased risk of tuberculosis and did not follow up with hospital employees exposed to active tuberculosis patients. See the citations. (pdf)

11 additional significant OSHA fines announced in January:

  • $187,600 for welders unaware of toxic, explosive fumes leading to a fatality at a Mississippi manufacturer
  • $177,500 for fatal fall hazards at an Alabama auto parts plant
  • $170,000 for lead and copper dust exposure at an Illinois industrial supply company
  • $153,000 and SVEP for ignoring OSHA fall and machine guarding citations at a Pennsylvania foundry
  • $151,200 for combustible dust hazards at a Texas corn flour mill
  • $149,800 for fatal struck-by hazards at a Florida construction site
  • $147,000 for repeat trench cave-in hazards at a North Dakota excavation company
  • $123,000 for fatal trench collapse at a North Carolina construction site
  • $113,300 for repeat fatal fall hazards by a New york roofing contractor
  • $110,000 for fall hazards at a Massachusetts commercial construction site
  • $102,000 for amputation, electrical and struck-by hazards at an Alabama auto parts supplier

1 comment:

  1. I think that any type of contractor, such as a roofing contractor if applicable, should be sure to follow OSHA rules. OSHA seems to be an important protection. I know I would want to hire a contractor who is dedicating to following OSHA guidelines.