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September 22, 2015

Top OSHA Fines in August 2015 Total $4.6 Million

this department has worked 365 days without a lost time accident
OSHA released details on 12 significant fines in August, with total proposed penalties of $4,559,540. That's quite a jump from the $2.9 million of serious fines (over $100,000) issued in July. The top 5 penalties accounted for more than three-fourths of the August total, including $1.8 million of proposed penalties against a pair of Illinois construction firms. Here are some details of August activity, many of which are still pending final decisions.

$1.8 million and SVEP for exposing construction workers to asbestos in Illinois

During renovation of a former elementary school, two Illinois construction companies violated numerous OSHA health standards related to the dangers of asbestos. The companies now face a total of $1,792,000 in penalties and entry to the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) for willfully exposing at least eight workers to asbestos. The investigation also found management brought non-English speaking workers to the U.S. and threatened them with termination if they spoke with OSHA inspectors.

OSHA cited 16 egregious, nine willful and six serious violations. Inspectors also found the companies failed to warn employees of the danger, even though they were aware of the asbestos hazard. They also failed to ensure that workers used appropriate work methods and respirators, and to train them about the hazards of working around asbestos. View current citations against the two companies here and here. (pdf)

$861,000 and SVEP for repeat amputation, electrocution and fall hazards at an Ohio poultry processor

Investigation of an Ohio chicken processing facility found that the company was aware of dangers, but continued to expose workers to serious and potentially fatal injuries. Acting on a referral, OSHA cited the company for two willful, 20 repeat, 30 serious and three other-than-serious safety and health violations. OSHA assessed $861,500 in penalties and added the company to the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA said the company "is an outrageously dangerous place to work," having been cited more than 350 times in the past 25 years. The latest inspection found amputation hazards, fall hazards due to non-functioning fall-arrest systems, unprotected platforms and wet work surfaces, lack of personal protective equipment, numerous electrical safety violations, improperly stored oxygen cylinders and lack of emergency eye-wash stations. View the current citations here. (pdf)

$405,000 judgement and contempt order against Maine construction company

Two Maine roofing companies were cited for safety violations 11 times at 11 different work sites in Maine between 2000 and 2011. Since that time, the owner has refused to correct the cited violations and pay $405,000 in fines and interest, even after the Labor Department obtained an order in U.S. District Court. The U.S. Court of Appeals has now entered a judgment finding the owner in civil contempt of the 2011 judgment and ordered him to submit proof of correction for the cited hazards and pay $405,485 plus interest and fees to OSHA within 20 days. Failure to do so will result in additional sanctions by the court of that could include imprisonment.

$235,800 for 14 health violations by an Ohio medical transport company

OSHA inspectors cited the company for four willful, seven serious and three other-than-serious health violations after a complaint prompted an inspection. Inspectors found the company did not protect workers from bloodborne pathogens by:
  • Failing to clean, launder or dispose of personal protective equipment and clothing at no cost to employees.
  • Not ensuring medical evaluations and procedures, including blood tests, were made available quickly to employees after an exposure.
  • Not providing employees with the results of post-exposure evaluation tests.
  • Failing to train workers on health hazards and precautions to prevent exposure.
It also failed to establish and maintain a sharps injury log and exposed workers to slip and fall hazards from standing water in the ambulance bay. View current citations. (pdf) 

$207,600 for repeat violations following an amputation at a Wisconsin metal stamping facility

Just one year after a worker amputated part of her right index finger on a spot welding machine at a metal stamping plant, a 19-year-old female co-worker suffered a similar injury on the same machine. The injured welder, employed by the company for two months, had operated the spot welder for only nine days before the amputation occurred.

OSHA issued two egregious willful, one repeated, three serious and two other-than-serious safety violations after finding that employees were required to weld thousands of parts a month on spot welding machines with their hand and fingers inches away from the machine's operating parts during the welding cycle. Following the 2014 injury, the company agreed to create fixtures to hold smaller parts. The company also installed hand controls to cycle the machine, but employees were still required to use foot controls while holding parts.

A repeat violation was cited for failing to install adequate machine guarding on metal coil straighteners and milling machinery. Investigators also found three serious violations for lockout/tagout violations. The company also failed to notify OSHA of the amputation injury within 24 hours, as required, instead reporting it after five days. View current citations. (pdf)

$171,270 and SVEP after a worker lost 4 fingers on his first day at an Ohio plastic molding company

OSHA inspectors found the company failed to train the employee about safety requirements that protect workers from machine hazards and failed to report the injury as required. OSHA cited similar hazards in 2010 and 2014 at the same facility.

Inspectors found the company also failed to implement lockout/tagout procedures and did not train workers on safety procedures or install machine guards on horizontal lathes. 

$170,170 and SVEP following an amputation at an Ohio manufacturer

OSHA cited two willful, three repeated and three serious safety violations. OSHA has inspected the facility seven times since 2006 and repeatedly cited the company for machine safety procedure violations. Inspectors found the company also failed to train workers on safety procedures, or to install machine guards on belts, pulleys and presses.

$162,400 for repeat fall, chemical and other hazards at an Ohio steel mill

The company received three repeat and eight serious safety citations after two complaint inspections were initiated, including: exposing workers to falls of 20 feet, failing to mark lifting devices with rated weight capacity and improperly labeling a hydrochloric acid dip tank for chemical hazards. Serious violations involved: exposing workers to molten metal hazards, failing to provide an emergency eyewash station, not requiring workers exposed to hydrochloric acid splash hazards to use protective equipment and violating respiratory protection standards.

$156,800 for 33 safety and health hazards at a Louisiana trucking company

OSHA cited the company for one willful, 27 serious and five other violations including failure to provide fall protection as well as noise, respiratory, fire and electrical hazards, along with exposure to silica, failing to train industrial truck operators and not maintaining unobstructed exit routes. Other violations include ungrounded electrical equipment, unmarked exits and an uncovered electrical outlet box.

$141,100 following two amputations, less than two weeks apart at a Georgia plastic manufacturer

OSHA issued 22 violations after two employees suffered middle and ring fingers amputations as they removed material jammed in shearing machines that cut plastic. OSHA two repeated, 18 serious and two other-than-serious citations, including: 
  • Failing to provide workers exposed to high temperatures with protective equipment
  • Storing together oxygen and acetylene cylinders
  • Failure to provide a workplace free of recognized hazards
  • Ignoring procedures to prevent machines from sudden start up during maintenance and service
  • Not implementing protections for workers exposed to excessive noise
  • Failing to ensure properly guarded machinery, such as shearing machines and a drill press
  • Exposing workers to falls

$136,500 for repeat fall hazards at a Florida roofing company

OSHA issued three repeat and three serious safety violations after OSHA inspectors observed employees performing roofing work without fall protection. The violations involve allowing employees to work from heights of 10, 15 and up to 20 feet without fall protection and improperly using a step ladder. The company has been cited nine times in the past five years. 

$119,900 and SVEP for repeat machine guard and lockout/tagout hazards at a Georgia manufacturer

inspectors issued two repeat, two serious and one other-than-serious violation for failing to provide proper machine guarding to protect employees from amputation hazards and not following safety procedures to prevent machinery from starting up unexpectedly during maintenance and servicing. Inspectors found the same type of hazards during a recent inspection in a different area at the same plant.

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