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January 25, 2017

Major OSHA Fines Top $5 Million in December, 2016

Federal OSHA inspectors ended 2016 with a bang, proposing fines of just over $5 million in 14 investigations with fines of $100,000 or more. The top citation accounted for just over half of the month's total. Common citations included machine guarding, lockout-tagout and PPE violations. Below are details on the top fines. Many are still pending final decisions.

$2.56 Million and SVEP after a fatality at an Alabama auto parts supplier

Lockout equipment before entering
Following the crushing death of a worker in a robotic machine, OSHA cited 23 willful, serious and other-than-serious violations, including 19 egregious instance-by-instance willful violations, to Joon LLC, doing business as Ajin USA of Cusseta. OSHA also cited two staffing agencies - Alliance HR Inc., doing business as Alliance Total Solutions LLC and Joynus Staffing Corp. - for two serious safety violations each. Collectively, the three companies face $2,565,621 in penalties.

OSHA issued willful citations for:

  • Failing to utilize energy control procedures to prevent machinery from starting up during maintenance and servicing.
  • Exposing workers to caught-in, struck-by and crushing hazards by allowing them to enter a robotic cell without shutting down and securing hazardous stored energy according to safety procedures.
  • Failing to provide safety locks to isolate hazardous energy.
  • Exposing employees to crushing and amputation hazards due to improper machine guarding.
OSHA also issued two serious citations for exposing workers to laceration hazards and not installing effective shields or curtains on welding machines. The temp agencies received two serious citations for lockout-tagout failures. Read more here.

$342,059 for bloodborne pathogen hazards at a Maryland USPS facility

Following a complaint alleging employee exposure to blood and other potentially infectious bodily fluids while handling packages labeled as containing biological infectious materials,
OSHA issued two willful, and three repeat health violations. Willful violations relate to failure to implement a written bloodborne pathogens exposure control plan, including performing an exposure determination and offering exposed employees the Hepatitis B vaccine. Additionally, the USPS failed to implement a hazard communication program. The employer did not properly train workers for bloodborne pathogen protection or provide them with properly-sized gloves, resulting in the other violations. See the citations here.

$338,000 total fines for machine guard and PPE violations at a Massachusetts packaging company

Do not operate machine without guards in placeFollowing a temporary worker injury, OSHA inspectors identified several new and recurring hazards at the Shield Packaging Co. plant that exposed workers to lacerations, amputation, hearing loss, hazardous chemicals, crushing and struck-by injuries and being unable to exit the plant safely in the event of an emergency. The company and two staffing agencies were cited and fined.

Citations issued include failures to:

  • Properly guard aerosol can crimping machinery against employee contact.
  • Provide proper hearing protection and training to employees exposed to high noise levels.
  • Provide employees with and ensure the use of face shields, gloves and other protective equipment.
  • Ensure that designated exit routes did not pass through high hazard areas.
  • Develop and utilize lockout-tagout procedures and train employees about those procedures.
  • Prevent the operation and use of defective powered industrial trucks.
  • Provide employees with information and training about the hazardous chemicals in their workplace.
Read details here.

$247,934 and SVEP for repeat and serious violations at an Ohio plastics manufacturer

Following the second sever injury in 18 months, OSHA inspectors issued four repeated, six serious and three other-than-serious safety violations of machine safety procedures at Lauren Manufacturing after a pneumatic bench cutter severed a 27-year-old employee's finger. Inspectors found the employer did not adjust the machine's light curtains - which serve as safeguards - properly to prevent the worker's hand from coming in contact with the machine's operating parts.

OSHA also found the company:

  • Allowed temporary workers to operate machinery without training on proper lockout/tag out procedures.
  • Failed to develop and implement adequate lockout/tag out procedures and periodically inspect such procedures.
  • Did not provide protective footwear or adequate personnel protective equipment to protect employees from burns.
  • Exposed workers to live electrical contacts.
Read more here.

$260,113 for inadequate machine guards at a Wisconsin lumber company

Investigating after a partial amputation incident, OSHA found multiple woodworking machines at Menzner Lumber and Supply lacked adequate safeguards and that workers were not properly trained in lockout-tagout procedures. OSHA identified three repeat and seven serious safety violations, including electrical safety violations, lack of guarding on ladder wells to prevent falls, and inadequate energy control procedures at the facility. View the citations here.

$178,156 for repeat safety violations at a Virginia USPS facility

seat belts must be worn in this vehicle at all times
Repeat violations relate to workers operating powered industrial trucks without seatbelts, employees exposed to caught-between hazards, and powered industrial trucks used without being inspected. USPS was cited previously for similar violations in 2014 and 2015. Struck-by hazards due to inadequate lighting, and the use of defective equipment, resulted in the serious violations. See the citations here.

$171,169 for fatal machine guard and PPE violations a Wisconsin manufacturer

The death of a 51-year-old chemical technician at a coatings company's facility has resulted in three repeat, four serious and three other than serious safety citations. The worker suffered fatal injuries when an automated crane pinned him between the crane hook and dip tank load bars as it moved product to different tanks on an anodizing line. OSHA reports that Crystal Finishing failed to:
  • Adequately guard machines to prevent workers from coming in contact with operating parts.
  • Protect workers walking working surfaces.
  • Provided adequate personal protective equipment.
  • Train workers about hazardous chemicals in use at the facility.
Read more here.

$165,400 as part of a safety agreement with a Michigan shipping company

For several years, OSHA inspectors identified a pattern of defective forklifts being used to move, handle, load and unload freight in at least 11 Central Transport LLC shipping terminals in nine states. Their use exposed employees to hazards that could cause crushing or struck-by injuries at multiple locations. A new agreement requires the company to pay $165,400 in penalties, hire an independent third party monitor to evaluate, update and improve the company's existing safety procedures, and meet several worker-safety focused criteria. Read more on the agreement.

$147,000 for worker retaliation by a Texas railway

OSHA says that BNSF Railway Company violated federal law when it terminated a track inspector for insubordination after the employee reported railroad track defects to management. BNSF was ordered to pay more than $147,000 in back wages and damages and take other corrective actions. Agency investigators determined the company retaliated against the former employee in violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act. Read more.

$138,430 for numerous hazards at Missouri sheet metal manufacturer

After a federal court ordered Hammond Sheet Metal to allow inspectors to respond to complaints of unsafe working conditions and employee injuries, OSHA issued more than a dozen repeat and serious violations and $138,430 in proposed fines. A review of injury logs also found numerous workers had suffered lacerations to the hands and wrists as alleged in the complaint. View current citations here.

$124,709 following 2 amputations in 2 months at a Wisconsin laundry equipment manufacturer

Following an amputation incident, OSHA inspected Alliance Laundry Systems found the company had returned a hydraulic press to operation without adding safety guarding after an employee's finger tip was amputated as he lowered a press used to square parts for washing machines and dryers. In a previous investigation, a grommet cutting machine severed another employee's index finger. View current citations here.

$119,725 for safety failures following a teen death at a Wisconsin metal fabrication company

OSHA issued 16 serious and one other-than-serious safety and health violations to G.D. Roberts & Co. Inc., for violations the agency's inspectors found after a machine pinned and injured a teenage worker who died from his injuries. The worker was clearing scrap below a loading table for an operating laser-cutter system when the machine lowered onto the victim, trapping him beneath. OSHA found that the company failed to ensure procedures to lockout the machine to prevent unintentional movement were followed, and did not train its employees properly in such safety procedures. Several other citations were issued. View current citations here.

$112,487 for fall hazards by a New Jersey roofing contractor

Inspectors observed Hackensack Roofing employees working on a roof without fall protection, and issued citations for repeat violations due to a lack of fall and eye protection. A serious citation was issued because workers were throwing roof shingles from the roof without the use of a container to catch the materials. View the citations.

$107,952 for amputation, chemical hazards at a Texas manufacturer

After receiving complaints from an employee, OSHA investigators found machines with exposed rotating parts lacking safeguards and workers overexposed to noise. OSHA cited three serious health violations, including not protecting employees from electrical and flammable chemical hazards and failing to record a workplace injury. Read details.

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