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May 2, 2016

Major OSHA Fines Top $2.7 Million in April 2016

Federal OSHA announced details of 17 major fines in April with proposed penalties of $2.67 million. Repeat fall hazard violations by construction and roofing contractors were common citations, along with machine guarding hazards at manufacturing sites. Here are some details of the top citations reported, which may still be pending final decisions:

$385,000 for continuing to ignore dangers at Pennsylvania and Delaware construction sites

A residential construction contractor with projects in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, has been cited for two willful, nine repeat, eight serious and one other-than-serious violations in recent inspections. The company has failed 21 of 27 federal safety inspections in 12 months, primarily for fall hazards. The company faces proposed penalties totaling $789,536 for violations in 20 of those inspections. A more recent inspection added $106,470 in fines.

OSHA cited fall hazards on scaffold platforms and a lack of training for those hazards, failure to provide and use fall protection, and failure to inspect the jobsite for fall and fire-related hazards. Other recent citations included:

  • Failure to provide and use proper ladders to access a work area
  • Failure to provide fire extinguishers
  • Failure to provide covers over holes located 6 feet above the lower floor
  • Failure to develop and implement a hazard communication program
The company "is a serial violator that callously refuses to take even the most basic steps to protect workers from falls and other serious hazards in construction, an industry among the nation's most hazardous," said OSHA's regional administrator in Philadelphia. Read more here.

$280,000 more fines for repeat fall hazard violations by a Georgia roofer

Recent inspections of Florida construction sites found a Georgia-based roofing company is continuing its seven-year history of ignoring safety and health laws. Since 2009, OSHA has completed 13 inspections at company worksites and found 24 violations. The agency has cited the roofing contractor with willful, serious and repeat violations for a lack of fall and eye protection and ladder safety. To date, the safety failures have resulted in more than $516,00 in penalties.

In two 2015 inspections, OSHA cited the company with four willful safety violations and $280,000 in proposed penalties in addition to another $140,000 in penalties for additional willful citations, bringing total penalties issued within a month to $420,000. Inspectors found the employer did not ensure employees were properly wearing fall protection equipment and exposed workers to the risk of falls from as high as 8-feet. They also found the employer failed to ensure workers operating powered nail guns used eye protection. See details here.

$226,310 for willful, repeat confined space violations at a New Orleans tank cleaning company

An air quality test and harnesses properly tethered to a lifeline for rescue might have prevented tragedy for three workers overcome by a lack of oxygen inside a rail tanker. OSHA inspectors found the employer failed to test the atmosphere inside the tanker before the three employers entered the tank, and did not mandate that workers attach a lifeline to their harnesses to allow a rescue. One of the workers died, and other two were hospitalized in the incident. The company has been cited for the same confined space violations three times at locations in Illinois. Serious violations include failing to: have a complete respiratory protection program; medically evaluate and fit test employees before allowing them to use respirators. Read more.

$172,700 for struck-by and amputation hazards at a Texas manufacturer

Responding to a complaint, OSHA investigators found eight serious, three repeat and two other violations. The company exposed workers to struck-by and amputation hazards by failing to implement an energy control program that included training, procedures or periodic inspections. It also failed to guard lathes to prevent workers' exposure to crushed-by and caught-in hazards, and failed to provide workers with effective workplace information and training on hazardous chemicals. Read more about the citations.

$144,995 following a flash fire at a Georgia auto parts manufacturer

A worker was operating a dust collector when an explosion occurred. Flames engulfed the man, causing third-degree burns to his upper body. OSHA issued one willful, 18 serious and one other-than-serious safety and health violations, including unguarded machinery, lockout/tagout, combustible dust and other violations. Read more here.

$143,500 for willful and repeat violations at a Wisconsin cannery

After a 35-year-old worker fell more than 17 feet into an empty sauerkraut vat and broke multiple bones, OSHA issued one willful, two repeat, five serious and one-other-than serious safety violations to the cannery. Previous inspections had identified violations that could have prevented the accident. OSHA says the company failed to:
  • Protect employees from falls while working on top of vats and elevated platforms by providing fall arrest equipment and installing guard railings
  • Develop procedures and implement permit confined space requirements including testing atmospheric conditions and providing emergency and rescue equipment
  • Install safeguards on moving conveyor parts
  • Keep floor holes covered to prevent slips and falls
  • Use locking devices to prevent unintentional operation of conveyors 
  • Read details here.

$140,000 for repeat exposure to dangerous falls, other hazards at a Florida construction site

OSHA inspectors observed employees performing roofing activities without fall protection at a residence. Citations were issued for failure to ensure employees were properly wearing fall protection equipment while exposed to the risk of an 8-foot fall. Another willful violation resulted from failure to ensure workers wore eye protection while using powered nail guns. The company has an extensive history of OSHA violations. Since 2007, the agency has completed 19 inspections, resulting in 34 violations, including willful, serious and repeat classifications for a lack of fall, eye and face protection and ladder safety. Read more.

$127,300 for machine and electrical hazards at a Kansas battery plant

OSHA initiated an inspection after an unguarded machine partially amputated a worker's left middle finger, and issued one willful and 10 serious electrical and machine hazard violations. The agency also issued a hazard alert letter to the plant for failing to implement a heat-stress program. Citations were issued for:
  • Using electrical cable trays and equipment deteriorating from exposure to sulfuric acid vapors
  • Allowing acid and water to accumulate on floors causing holes, slip and trip hazards
  • Impeding exit paths
  • Failing to develop a permit-required confined space program
  • Not training and monitoring workers in confined space
  • Not labeling hazardous chemical containers
  • Failing to train workers about hazardous chemicals in use 
  • Read details here.

Additional major OSHA fines announced in April included:

  • $124,000 for chemical, electrical and other hazards at a Louisiana food manufacturer
  • $121,800 for repeat fall hazards at a West Virginia construction site
  • $121,000 for willful lead exposure by a Pennsylvania painting company
  • $121,000 for fall and machine hazards at an Ohio steel plant
  • $120,600 combined fines to 4 companies for fatal confined space hazards at an Illinois waste-water treatment plant
  • $119,000 for fatal machine hazards at a Wisconsin paper mill
  • $112,700 for machine hazards following two amputations at a Nebraska medical manufacturer
  • $110,000 and SVEP for machine hazards at an Illinois metal stamping facility
  • $107,000 for blocked emergency exits and more at a Mississippi retail store

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