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July 19, 2016

Major OSHA Fines Top $5 Million in June 2016

Federal OSHA released details of 16 significant fines in June, including a near-record $3.42 million assessment against an Ohio auto parts manufacturer. These top fines totaled some $5.7 million. Unguarded machines were a primary cause of violations. Here's a look at the top OSHA fines announced in June, which may still be pending final decisions:

$3.42 million and SVEP for willful machine hazards at an Ohio auto parts manufacturer 

finger-hand hazard
Investigators inspected a Sunfield Inc. plant after two workers suffered severe injuries in separate incidents. The facility has an extensive history of federal safety violations dating back 20 years. OSHA issued citations for 46 egregious willful, two willful, one repeated and eight serious safety violations with penalties totaling $3,426,900 and placed the company in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program for failure to address these safety hazards. Most of the violations involve lack of machine safety procedures which expose workers to amputation, lacerations and other injuries. OSHA said the company's leadership failed in its obligation to properly train workers for the jobs they were hired to do, and created a culture that routinely tolerated willful and serious safety violations.

Prior to recent inspections, the company had an extensive history of OSHA violations. The agency has issued 118 citations for numerous machine hazards similar to those cited and resulted in 90 serious, eight willful and five repeated violations to the company, which has repeatedly assured OSHA that it would address the unsafe conditions. The company also ignored its own corporate safety manuals and its safety manager's warnings that workers lacked the training to protect themselves. The agency also found multiple electrical safety violations including lack of personal protective equipment, workers exposed to live electrical parts, and use of damaged equipment. Read details here.

$285,300 for fire hazards, unguarded machine following an amputation at a Pennsylvania manufacturer 

OSHA initiated an inspection after a worker had a finger amputated by a machine. The inspection was also in response to a separate complaint alleging hazards related to the storage and handling of flammable liquids at the cosmetic manufacturer. Citations issues include: improperly stored, transferred and processed flammable liquids; fall and forklift hazards; failure to properly guard a filling machine, which caused the amputation; failure to provide fire extinguisher and flammable liquid training; and failure to develop and implement a written hazard communication program. More details.

$276,000 for a whistleblower violation by a Massachusetts trucking company 

we hire safe drivers
Instead of thanking a truck driver who found a way to deliver his cargo on-time and in compliance with federal regulations, his employer fired him. The driver was concerned he couldn't complete his delivery from Massachusetts to New Jersey and back without violating federal safety regulations and putting himself and others at risk, and devised a solution to deliver his cargo on-time and to his customer's satisfaction. The firing violated the anti-retaliation provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. OSHA ordered the company to reinstate the driver, pay him more than $276,000 in back wages and damages and take other corrective action. Read more.

$193,000 for a whistleblower violation by a Michigan school district 

Federal investigators have determined a Michigan janitor was labeled a troublemaker and subjected to continuing adverse personnel actions by the school district after she complained about exposure to asbestos while cleaning school floor tiles. The janitor objected when the director of operations and construction management told her to dry sand floor tiles that contained asbestos. The director failed to train the workers in asbestos hazards and failed to provide protective equipment. OSHA's investigation found the school district clearly knew the tiles contained asbestos and failed to protect workers from exposure. OSHA ordered the district to pay the worker a total of $193,139 in back wages, damages and other compensation. See details here.

$180,800 for process safety management violations at an Ohio food additive manufacturer 

Hazardous Materials
The manufacturer's failure to handle hazardous materials and respond properly to an emergency led to an explosion that injured four workers, including two contractors who scaled an 8-foot security fence topped with barbed wire to escape the fireball. OSHA found the company violated procedures for handling of hazardous materials and did not have emergency shut-down procedures for an evaporator and rotary drum filter. OSHA issued one willful, 35 serious and five other-than-serious safety violations. Citations include failure to: Designate sufficient egress routes; Develop operational procedures to maintain the ongoing integrity of equipment; Develop procedures to prevent inadvertent startup or release of stored energy; Document inspections and maintenance; Ensure piping and instrumentation diagrams are accurate. Read more here.

Other significant fines announced in June:

  • $143,000 for amputation, hearing, respiratory and other hazards at an Ohio foundry
  • $140,000 for missing safety guards following two amputations at a Missouri food manufacturer led two workers
  • $140,000 for repeat LOTO violations at a New York comercial bakery
  • $130,500 for scaffolding and fall risks by a Georgia masonry contractor
  • $121,800 and possible SVEP for fatal scaffold installation and inspection violations by a Wisconsin scaffold installation company
  • $121,600 and SVEP for willful maintenance hazards and more at a New Jersey scrap recycler
  • $119,900 for blocked exits and routes, inoperable fire doors, fall hazards and training failures at an Iowa postal sorting facility
  • $108,500 for trench cave-in hazards by excavation contractors at a Florida job site
  • $108,500 for willful, repeat fall hazards by a Florida roofing contractor
  • $107,000 for fatal fall hazards at a New Jersey food manufacturer
  • $105,000 for chemical and other hazards at a New York rail equipment manufacturer
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