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April 15, 2016

Major OSHA Fines Top $1.8 Million in March 2016

Asbestos may cause cancer
Federal OSHA investigators issued $1,824,574 in 13 major fines in March. Fall protection and chemical hazards were among common hazards. Many smaller citations involved amputations, fall hazards and even vinegar fumes. OSHA also agreed to $850,000 in two settlements, one involving lead and asbestos hazards during renovation work, and the other related to untrained forklift operators, obstructed exit routes, damaged storage racks and inadequate chemical hazard communication training.

Here are some details of the top citations reported in March, which may still be pending final decisions: 

$203,324 for whistleblower violations at a New Jersey bank

JP Morgan Chase Bank illegally terminated a loan manager at a New Jersey office who raised concerns about financial transactions. OSHA has ordered the bank to reinstate the employee, pay $151,669.36 in back wages and $51,654.85 in compensatory damages and out-of-pocket medical expenses. The bank must also expunge the employee's personnel records and post a notice for employees informing them of their whistleblower rights.

OSHA's investigation found the employee raised numerous concerns to bank management between November 2013 and May 2014 about failures to properly record loans, both internally and to government regulators, and refused to override a failed compliance test and falsely report it as having passed. The bank retaliated by removing the employee's responsibilities, eliminating his position and subsequently terminating his employment. Get more details here.

$198,550 for repeat fall protection hazards at New Jersey construction sites

Fall protection requiredInspections at residential construction sites throughout Southern New Jersey resulted in a total of 19 repeat and eight serious violations for a building contractor. Inspectors found the company failed to: Provide fall protection for workers exposed to fall hazards as high as 29 feet; Train employees on fall protection; Inspect jobsites for hazards; Train employees on how to use ladders properly. In addition to the fall hazards, the agency issued serious citations for a lack of personal protection equipment, damaged electrical cords, and the lack of fall protection in an aerial lift. Read more.

$193,600 and SVEP following ammonia release at a Kansas candy manufacturer

Hundreds of workers evacuated a candy manufacturing plant when an air-conditioning unit pipe failed and released some 22 pounds of anhydrous ammonia into the air throughout the facility. No workers were injured in the incident which closed the plant for more than two hours. OSHA investigators cited the company with three repeat, 14 serious and two other-than-serious safety violations involving process safety management standards. Get details

$174,000 following a fatal trench collapse at a Pennsylvania contractor

Do not enter trench until properly shored
As a new worker installed a sewer line 11 feet underground, the excavation collapsed, crushing and burying him. OSHA cited two willful and seven serious violations, finding the company regularly exposed employees to unprotected excavations more than 5-feet deep. The employer also failed to protect employees from loose rock or soil by not keeping the spoils pile at least 2 feet from the edge of the excavation. Read more.

$152,460 and SVEP for repeat amputation and fire dangers at a Wisconsin pallet manufacturer

For the sixth time since 2011, OSHA inspectors found a Wisconsin wood pallet manufacturer failed to comply with safety and health standards and put workers in danger. OSHA found employees operated machines without effective safeguards from moving parts, and combustible dust hazards in processing equipment and associated dust collection equipment, and inspectors issued one willful, four repeat and three serious safety and health violations. See details

Other major fines issued in March include:

  • $122,500 for engulfment dangers at a Wisconsin grain facility
  • $122,500 for process hazards following an ammonia release at a Texas poultry processor
  • $118,000 for varied health violations at a Florida retailer
  • $117,000 for repeat fall hazards, PPE and training violations at a Texas garden center
  • $106,800 for respiratory hazards at a Montana mineral plant
  • $105,000 for repeat violations following a struck-by fatality at a Wisconsin construction company
  • $104,390 for repeat fall safety violations by a Wisconsin roofing contractor

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