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August 12, 2015

OSHA Announces 14 Serious Fines for $2.9 Million in July 2015

OSHA released details on 14 significant fines in July 2015, with a proposed total value of $2.88 million. That's up slightly from July 2014, when it announced 12 significant fines for $2.6 million. Significant fines in June numbered 12 with total proposed fines of nearly $2.4 million. Common July citations included machine guarding and fall hazards. Here are some details of July activity, most of which are still pending final decisions.

$423,900 and SVEP after a trench collapse seriously injures a Texas construction worker

When a construction worker was buried in an 8-foot trench, his co-workers dug him out with their bare hands and pulled him to safety. Moments later the unprotected trench collapsed again. After investigation, OSHA inspectors cited 16 safety violations, including six egregious willful violations for failing to protect workers inside an excavation from a cave-in. 

"It is absolutely unacceptable that employers continue to endanger the lives of workers in trenches," says OSHA. In addition to the willful violations, the company was cited for nine serious violations, including failing to remove debris from the edge of the excavation, not providing a safe means to get in and out of the excavation, and not conducting atmospheric testing inside excavations after a sewer leak. View the citations.

$362,500 for fall injury after a Texas construction company denies worker safety equipment
Despite his request for a safety harness, a temporary worker was denied fall protection and later fell 12 feet through a roof. His fall resulted in his hospitalization with fractured arms and severe contusions. The employer then waited three days to report the injury. OSHA cited

seven safety violations, including one willful and four willful egregious, for failing to provide fall protection for four workers, failure to promptly report hospitalization of an employee resulting from a workplace incident, and not training employees in the use of fall protection and ladders. See the citations.

$321,750 for amputation and other machine hazards at a Texas metal stamping plant

Following up on a complaint, OSHA issued 13 safety and health citations for exposing workers to amputations and other serious injuries from unsafe machinery, including a violation for allowing employees to work with a defective 500-ton metal press that the company knew had repeatedly dropped without warning. In addition, the company did not ensure that employees on the production floor wore appropriate eye protection, and failed to make sure employees used hearing protection in areas where noise levels were above the acceptable limits. View the citations.

$273,000 and SVEP following four worker deaths at a Texas chemical facility
In November 2014, a worker was overcome at a chemical manufacturing facility when a supply line unexpectedly released more than 20,000 lbs. of methyl mercaptan, a deadly chemical. Three co-workers came to the worker's aid in an attempted rescue, but all four were asphyxiated by the colorless, flammable, and highly toxic gas. After an initial investigation into the four deaths, OSHA found hazards that prompted the recent inspection at the facility to be expanded under the National Emphasis Program for chemical facilities. Citations were issued for three new willful, one repeat and four serious violations. Review a complete list of citations.

$211,000 and SVEP following a preventable death at a New York paper mill
A 57-year-old general mechanic was removing burned filter bags of combustible fly ash dust from a dust collector in the facility's power plant when the fly ash ignited. He sustained severe burns as a result and subsequently died. OSHA cited the paper manufacturer for two willful, one repeated and three serious violations of workplace safety standards.

The employer failed to supply necessary fire-resistant clothing and did not train employees on the specific physical hazards of combustible fly ash. In addition, the system for conveying and collecting the fly ash was deficient. It had not been inspected for defects, did not comply with National Fire Protection Association standards and had not been maintained adequately. The inspection also found that procedures for isolating the dust conveyor system's power source during maintenance activities were incomplete, and the company failed to complete annual evaluations to ensure the procedures were effective. View the citations.

$196,000 for repeat amputation and LOTO hazards at a New Jersey furniture plant
OSHA issued 25 repeat, 15 serious and two other-than-serious citations to the manufacturer and one repeat and two serious citations to a staffing company. Inspectors found amputation hazards and missing LOTO procedures, lack of employee training on hazardous chemicals used in the workplace, electrical, exit and struck-by hazards, and multiple safety violations related to methylene chloride and fire hazards. The temp agency was cited for not having a written hazard communication program or training, or documentation of a hazard assessment.

$188,000 for unguarded machines and other violations at a Texas steel fabricator

Inspectors cited the company for two willful, six repeated and six serious violations in a follow-up inspection. They found the company continued to expose workers to unguarded machinery, improperly stored oxygen cylinders and other safety and health hazards. The latest inspection was a follow-up visit for citations issued in February 2014. At that time, OSHA identified five serious violations involving the lack of protective guards for dangerous machines, unsafe storage of compressed gas cylinders and electrical hazards. The company did not respond to the citations and failed to provide OSHA with documentation that the problems had been addressed, as required by law.

$169,495 following a fatality due to improper safety guards at a Wisconsin leather manufacturer
OSHA says proper safety guards would have stopped a 1,500-pound steel roller before it crushed and killed a 59-year-old maintenance worker, but the employer did not use them. Inspectors noted 19 serious safety violations at the facility, including: Lack of machine guards; Not training workers on machine safety procedures or evaluating procedures annually; Absence of electrical safety work practices, including exposing workers to energized parts, and failing to provide barriers and protective clothing to prevent workers from contacting live electrical parts and improper wiring; Failing to install standard railings to guard against falls of up to 5 feet from platforms and floor openings; Modifying forklifts without manufacturer permission; Annual audiograms for workers exposed to an average of 85 decibels annually were delinquent; Not evaluating and providing training for confined space hazards, such as chrome tanks; Failing to comply with respiratory protection requirements.

$153,090 for repeat fall hazards at a Florida construction company
OSHA cited two willful, one repeat and two serious violations as part of the agency's Regional Emphasis Program on Falls in Construction. Compliance officers observed workers exposed to fall hazards while performing residential construction, including failing to protect workers from falls from heights up to 14 feet. A repeat citation was issued for allowing workers to use pneumatic nail guns without eye protection. Serious violations included failing to ensure an extension ladder extended 3 feet above the landing surface and allowing employees to stand on the top step of a stepladder while installing roof trusses.

$140,000 for repeat fall violations at a Florida construction company
After OSHA received two complaints concerning employees working on a residential roof without safety protection, inspectors issued two willful citations for failing to ensure employees were wearing eye protection while using pneumatic nail guns and exposing workers to falls from heights up to 13 feet without fall protection.

$116,000 for ammonia exposure at a Florida refrigeration company
OSHA cited 13 safety violations, including one willful violation, for failing to follow the industry recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices for insulation removal and for failing to test ammonia refrigeration system piping and pressure vessels. Twelve additional serious violations involve failing to maintain accurate and complete piping and instrument diagrams of the ammonia refrigeration systems, not completing actions items on the process safety hazard analysis and not training permanent and temporary workers on the emergency evacuation plan and alarm system for fire and ammonia releases.

$112,000 for releasing hazardous chemicals at a Texas energy facility
In January, a pressure-relief device released flammable gas and liquid into the atmosphere; it burned for more than two hours. OSHA cited the employer for one willful and six serious safety violations including failing to train operators, update operating procedures, conduct a management of change analysis when changing software and hardware, conduct periodic inspections and document inspections on emergency shutdown devices.

$112,000 for drowning, fall and impalement hazards at a Florida marine contractor

OSHA issued 16 serious, one repeat and one other-than-serious safety violations, including: failing to provide employees with personal protective equipment; exposing workers to drowning hazards; allowing employees to work without fall protection; exposing employees to impalement hazards by allowing them to work near unguarded vertical and horizontal rebar rods; and failing to ensure cranes operating on barges were physically secured. This is the third OSHA inspection within two years at this jobsite

$105,000 for machine violations at an Ohio manufacturer

After a hydraulic press crushed a machine operator's left hand at a seal and gasket manufacturer, OSHA inspectors found the company had ignored required machine safety guards that would have prevented the incident. It issued four serious violations for failing to develop and train workers on steps for shutting down or isolating energy sources to machinery during maintenance and service, such as mold changes. Another violation was cited for failing to notify OSHA of the injury. Under reporting requirements, companies must report any worker hospitalization within 24 hours.

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