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August 22, 2016

Major OSHA Fines Top $1.6 Million in July 2016

Federal OSHA investigators issued $1,658,890 in 13 major fines in July. That's quite a drop from the $5.7 million announced in June. Fall protection and machine hazards were among common hazards, but the top fine involved bloodborne pathogen hazards at an Illinois ambulance operation. Here are some details of the top citations (over $100,000) reported in July, which may still be pending final decisions:

$290,100 for bloodborne pathogen risk at an Illinois ambulance service

Warning biohazard
OSHA issued five willful, 16 serious and three other-than-serious safety and health violations to the ambulance service after receiving a complaint alleging violations of OSHA's bloodborne pathogen exposure and various other health and safety standards. OSHA found 14 violations including failures to:
  • Establish an exposure control plan for bloodborne pathogens
  • Make Hepatitis B vaccination series available to employees
  • Train workers about chemical and bloodborne pathogen hazards and precautions
  • Develop an emergency response plan
  • Dispose of, clean or launder contaminated personal protection equipment
  • Develop a respiratory protection program
  • Train workers about the use of hazardous chemicals in their work area
  • Provide injury and illness logs to inspectors within four hours
  • Mark, keep clear and properly light emergency exits
  • Follow electrical safe work places. Investigators found opened breaker panel boxes, extension cords used as fixed wiring, exposed light sockets.
View the current safety citations and health citations. (pdf)

$197,820 for repeat combustible dust, fire, explosion and fall hazards at a New York manufacturer

At a follow-up inspection, OSHA inspectors found the company failed to address combustible dust hazards involving the dust collection system it had agreed to correct. Inspectors also identified new and recurring hazards stemming from failure to:

  • Address combustible dust related fire and explosion hazards for conveyor equipment and an inoperable spark detection/fire suppression system
  • Inspect fire extinguishers annually, and maintain them in fully charged and operable condition
  • Remove accumulations of combustible wood dust and shavings on rafters and other surfaces
  • Remove piles of wood dust and shavings on floors that create fire, slip, trip, and fall hazards
View the citations.

$175,200 for repeat, serious safety violations following a fatality at a New York coke plant

lock out tags
OSHA says the death of an employee who was pulled into the rotating shaft of a coal elevator could have been prevented. As he prepared to grease and lubricate the elevator, the worker's jacket was caught, pulling the man onto the rotating shaft. OSHA determined that the employer neither shut down the elevator nor locked out its power source. OSHA's inspection determined that the company failed to:
  • Ensure the shut down of power sources for the coal elevator and a machine in the plant battery department and that energy isolation devices had lockout devices affixed
  • Guard projecting shafts and bolts on the coal elevator against employee contact
  • Provide hazardous energy control training to authorized employees and inform them of the location of energy control devices
  • Conduct and certify an inspection of energy-control procedures
  • Ensure the full lock out of an energy control device
  • Maintain working surfaces in a clean and dry condition
  • Ensure to bolt covers of electrical disconnects used in a classified location fully
View citations here.

$124,300 for repeat trench hazards by a Texas contractor

OSHA inspectors witnessed workers performing trench and excavation work unsafely at a subdivision in Houston and initiated an inspection. OSHA issued citations for one willful, 11 serious and two other violations. The willful violation was for exposing workers to cave-ins. The agency has investigated the company six times in the past 10 years and cited the company each time for similar violations.

Inspectors identified the following serious violations as the company:

  • Allowed unnecessary material and unsupported equipment within 2 feet of the excavation's edge
  • Failed to train employees in the safe performance of their duties
  • Did not verify that permit-required spaces were safe for entry
  • Failed to provide rescue and emergency equipment
  • Did not ensure that the required supervisor checked all appropriate entries on the permit before allowing employees to enter
Review the citations.

$117,170 combined fines for fall, fire and electrical hazards at a New York construction site

DANGER fall protection required
At a Manhattan construction site, OSHA cited a construction contractor for eight repeated and six serious violations of workplace safety standards with $93,170 in proposed fines, and also cited a steel erection company for 10 serious violations with $24,000 in proposed fines. Violations included failures to:
  • Provide fall protection for employees working on a scaffold
  • Ensure fall protection training for employees
  • Prevent employees from climbing cross-braces to access the scaffold's work platform.
  • Cover a floor hole that exposed employees to falls of up to 17 feet
  • Ensure planks on a scaffold platform were secured, which exposed employees to a fall hazard of more than 7 feet
  • Separate stored oxygen cylinders from fuel-gas cylinders or combustible materials
  • Secure compressed gas cylinders in an upright position
  • Ensure a fire extinguisher was near compressed gas cylinders and combustible materials
The citations can be viewed here, and here. (pdf

$115,930 for repeat machine and other hazards at an Illinois plating company

Inspectors found a suburban Chicago electroplating company continues to put its employees in danger of serious injuries by failing to install adequate machine safety guards, train workers in machine safety procedures and correct electrical deficiencies in the plant.

Inspections found the employer failed to:

  • Require workers to wear personal protective equipment, including goggles and face protection
  • Follow respiratory protection standards, such as individual fit-testing and medical evaluations
  • Install adequate machine safety guards
  • Follow electrical safe work practices including using electrical equipment rated for wet and corrosive environments and remove damaged equipment from use
  • Train workers on lockout/tag out machine safety procedures
  • Inspect lifting devices and remove damaged devices from service
View the current citations here.

$111,000 combined fines for unguarded machines, fall hazards and more at a Texas oil and gas manufacturer

After receiving a complaint about unsafe working conditions, OSHA inspected and issued citations for two repeat, 23 serious and four other violations with a $111,000 penalty to the energy company and four serious violations with a $9,800 penalty to its labor broker.

23 serious violations for the manufacturer include failure to:

  • Prevent fall hazards on scaffolding, open-sided floor edges and steel tanks
  • Provide clear instructions for locking out energy sources prior to working on industrial machines
  • Prevent material handling hazards created by forklifts, cranes
  • Inspect and test lifting devices
  • Properly guard the points of operation and rotating parts on industrial grinders and metal presses
The labor agency was cited for failing to ensure:
  • The installation of protective railings on loading docks more than 4-feet high
  • Employees received fire extinguisher training when authorized to fight fire
  • A means for quick removal for welders in confined spaces in case of an emergency
  • Employees received effective hazard communication training where hazardous chemicals are used

$110,310 and possible SVEP for combustible dust, machine guarding and other hazards at a Georgia peanut plant

OSHA initiated a follow-up inspection to verify abatement of hazards from previous citations and found a variety of repeat and serious violations, including failure to:
  • Properly guard open sided floors and platforms
  • Keep floors clean and dry in the vehicle service pit area
  • Develop and implement procedures to enter a confined space area
  • Keep surfaces free from hazardous accumulations of combustible peanut dust
  • Provide a handrail and railing on a fixed stairway
  • Exposing workers to unguarded horizontal shafts
  • Failing to have stairway risers uniform and consistent

$106,020 combined fines for serious machine hazards at an Alabama auto parts plant

Inspectors found permanent and temporary employees faced the dangers of being caught-in machinery, hit by objects and the risk of amputation. OSHA issued citations for failure to:
  • Develop and implement proper procedures to prevent machinery from starting-up during maintenance or servicing
  • Conduct periodic inspections of the energy control procedures for equipment with multiple energy sources
  • Train employees performing work on hazardous energy sources
  • Protect workers from crushing and amputation hazards due to improper machine guarding
  • Require workers to de-energize equipment when changing out parts on machinery
  • Protect employees from amputation hazards due to ineffective machine guarding on the mechanical power presses
OSHA also cited violations for failure to provide copies of OSHA's 300 injury and illness log within four business hours for staffing company employees who had recordable injuries while working at the facility.

$104,000 for 21 serious violations at a Texas food plant

OSHA cited the company for allowing several electrical, amputation, struck-by and chemical hazards. The employer also failed to establish procedures for the control of hazardous energy sources, to install emergency eyewash stations and provide personal protective equipment, safety data sheets and effective training on chemicals used in the facility.

$103,820 for 1 repeat, 10 serious citations to at a Colorado steel mill

Inspectors issued one repeat citation for not making repairs to overhead cranes promptly, and issued 10 serious citations, including failing to:
  • Provide standard guardrails on open-sided floors and platforms 4 feet or more above a lower level
  • Keep portable fire extinguishers in their designated location when not in use
  • Provide bumper stops to stop rail cars from potentially rolling in a crosswalk or vehicular traffic
  • Fasten fixed ladders securely on overhead cranes
  • Ensure to fasten guards on overhead cranes' moving equipment securely in their designed place
  • Ensure a properly sized safety latch on a link chain nest-hook
  • Clearly mark the functions on the pendent controller used to operate overhead cranes


$103,220 combined fines for repeat blocked exits, electrical shock hazards at a Florida retailer

OSHA initiated an inspection after receiving a complaint concerning several workplace injuries and hazards. Inspectors cited 14 safety and health violations, including:
  • Allowing access to electrical disconnect switches to be blocked with metal racks, boxes and a ladder
  • Exposing workers to electric shock hazards by using flexible cable instead of fixed wiring
  • Allowing exit doors to be locked with a padlock
  • Not ensuring exit routes are kept free and unobstructed
  • Lack of exit route signs
  • Not providing signs on doors that are not an exit
  • Failure to mount and identify the location of fire extinguishers


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