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November 21, 2016

OSHA Issues Major Fines Totaling $3.2 Million in October 2016

Federal OSHA investigators released information on 29 enforcement activities in October, with 16 of those cases carrying proposed fines of $100,000 or more. These major fines totaled nearly $3.2 million. Fall protection and machine guards were common citations. Here's some details on nine fines that topped $200,000. Many are still pending final decisions.

$359,878 for repeat fall hazards at a Florida framing contractor

OSHA inspectors observed employees of Panama City Framing unprotected from falls as they installed truss framing at a residence. OSHA cited two willful citations for the employer's failure to protect workers with a fall protection system when working at heights up to 22 feet, and for not having a roof access ladder for employees to access the roof trusses. Repeat violations included allowing workers to use powered nail guns without eye protection and failing to ensure employees were wearing head protection. The employer has been cited four times since 2012 for lack of fall, eye and head protection. Read more here.

$317,814 for repeat serious hazards at a Georgia textile and plastic recycler

Acting on a complaint, OSHA investigated and issued citations to Columbia Recycling Corp. for five repeated, three serious and one other-than-serious safety and health violations. Repeat citations for failure to:

  • Administer an effective hearing conservation program.
  • Ensure nameplates were maintained in a legible condition.
  • Protect petroleum gas storage tanks with crash rails or guards.
  • Store and handle liquefied petroleum properly.
  • Outline clear and specific energy control procedures for shutting down and securing machines and equipment.
Serious citations related to improper storage of compressed gas cylinders; Not ensuring an employee successfully completed training to operate a powered industrial truck; Not allowing sufficient access and working space around electrical equipment. Read more here.

$291,000 for fall protection violations by a New Jersey contractor

OSHA issued three willful, four repeat, and six serious safety citations to Station Builders Inc. OSHA compliance officers observing employees in imminent danger conditions. The company did not provide fall protection at four worksites. Repeat citations involved failure to provide personal protective equipment, improper use of portable ladders at the worksites, and to conduct frequent and regular worksite inspections. Read more here.

$275,728 and SVEP for continued trench collapse hazards by an Illinois plumbing contractor

Less than three weeks after being cited for exposing workers to unsafe trenches, federal investigators saw a Chicago plumbing contractor exposing the same four-man crew to trenching hazards as they worked on sewer and water utilities at two locations. For its wanton disregard for the safety of its workers, OSHA placed Og Plumbing LLC in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Inspectors found: a four-man crew working in a 5.5-foot deep trench without cave-in protection and a means to enter and exit the trench. Some workers were not wearing hard hats.

Days later, inspectors found the same crew working in a 6.5-foot deep trench under the same conditions. As the investigator approached the trench the second time, the employees scrambled out of the trench. Shortly after this, a large section of the trench wall collapsed into the area where the employees were working. On another date, inspectors observed a crew installing water lines in a trench about 6-feet deep without cave-in protection. OSHA standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet, and that soil and other materials remain at least two feet from the edge of trench. Read more here.

$243,716 for carbon monoxide, asbestos exposure and other hazards at a Wisconsin construction site

After five employees became ill from carbon monoxide exposure as they renovated a nursing home, OSHA inspectors responding to the scene found their employer also exposed the workers to asbestos hazards. OSHA determined A&A Environmental Services Inc. failed to monitor carbon monoxide exposure for workers inside an asbestos containment area, and violated required procedures for safe handling of the dangerous known carcinogen. OSHA alleges the employer failed to:

  • Provide a separate room for asbestos containment equipment.
  • Create a decontamination area with a separate area for employees to shower and remove work clothing before leaving the worksite.
  • Ensure employees did not consume beverages inside an asbestos containment area.
  • Monitor worksites for carbon monoxide exposure.
  • Train workers on carbon monoxide hazards.
  • Smoke test the containment area and glove bags used to contain asbestos.
  • Provide ground fault circuit interrupters inside containment areas where wet techniques are used for asbestos removal.
  • Provide medical evaluation and fit-testing for employees required to use respirators.
Read more here.

$241,857 for disabled safety devices and amputation hazards at an Ohio trailer lining manufacturer

OSHA inspectors issued one willful, two repeat and six serious citations, and one other-than-serious citation for safety violations by Ridge Corporation. OSHA found the company deactivated light curtains that prevent workers from coming in contact with operating machine parts to produce products more quickly. The company failed to install machine guards on multiple pieces of equipment; remove defective forklifts from service; and cover exposed electrical connections. Read more here.

$224,477 for 21 serious violations at a Texas filtration manufacturer

While investigating a serious employee injury, OSHA inspectors found themselves investigating a second serious incident. Investigation of both incidents found workers operating machinery without point of operation and safety guards and emergency stop switches. OSHA issued 21 serious violations including:
  • Allowing equipment to operate without safety latches.
  • Permitting the use of non-compliant crane equipment.
  • Failing to address electrical hazards.
  • Not having guard rails on elevated surfaces.
  • Failing to mark emergency exits.
  • Ladders not meeting specification requirements and not maintained.
  • Lock out/tag out procedures not developed or implemented.
  • Horizontal belts and shafts not guarded.
Read more details.

$222,697 for repeat fall protection violations by a New Jersey framing contractor

An OSHA compliance officer observed Frame Q employees performing residential construction framing activities without fall protection. OSHA identified violations involving failure to provide workers with fall and eye protection. OSHA had cited the framing contractor for the same hazards in March 2014. View citations here.

$215,578 for repeat blocked exits at a Pennsylvania Dollar General store

OSHA initiated an inspection after receiving an employee complaint. The agency cited a willful violation after inspectors found the discount retailer barricaded an emergency exit door in the back room with a metal bar. Repeat violations were issued for blocked electrical panels and the company's failure to maintain a clear path to an emergency exit door. "Dollar General continues its pattern of failing to maintain safe exit routes at its stores. Despite receiving more than 100 safety and health violations at stores nationwide since 2010, which carried more than $1 million in proposed fines, the company has still failed to take corrective actions," said an OSHA area director. View citations here.

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