Thursday, September 15, 2016

OSHA Latest Enforcement Cases

OSHA Enforcement

Georgia auto parts manufacturer, staffing agency face more than $700K in penalties for continuing to expose workers to hazards

In response to a worker complaint and as part of the agency's Regional Emphasis Program on Safety Hazards in the Auto Parts Industry, OSHA conducted an inspection at HP Pelzer Automotive Systems Inc. in March 2016. OSHA cited the company and Sizemore Inc., a staffing agency it employs, with 24 safety violations for fall, amputation, and electrocution hazards, including 12 repeated citations for HP Pelzer. "This is the third inspection of the HP Pelzer plant where OSHA has identified numerous hazards, many repeated, related to unsafe working conditions," said William Fulcher, OSHA's area director in the Atlanta-East Office. The two companies face a total of $704,610 in penalties, including fines of $49,884 for the staffing agency. Sizemore had approximately 300 temporary employees assigned to HP Pelzer at the time of the inspection, but terminated its contract in May 2016 for reasons including safety concerns for its employees. For more information, see the news release.

Nebraska grain handling facility faces $400K in penalties after worker suffocates in soybean bin

An elevator superintendent clearing debris from a soybean bin suffocated when his lifeline became entangled in an unguarded and rotating auger. OSHA's investigation of his employer, Cooperative Producers Inc., of Prosser, Neb., found several violations of the agency's grain handling standards including failure to: disconnect a subfloor auger and test atmospheric conditions in grain bins before allowing workers to enter; implement lockout/tagout procedures; and install machine guarding to avoid contact with moving machine parts. The company was issued willful and serious violations and proposed penalties of $411,540. This is the seventh time since 2011 the company has been cited for similar violations. It has been placed in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. For more information, read the news release.

TimkenSteel fined $113K after worker dies from nitrogen exposure at Ohio plant

A worker for TimkenSteel Corp. was found dead in the facility's elevator control room after a nitrogen leak caused an oxygen-deficient atmosphere. The worker was performing a monthly fire extinguisher check. OSHA cited the Canton, Ohio, steel mill for six safety violations for failing to protect workers from potentially hazardous atmospheres, and failing to train workers on the hazards of using nitrogen-powered pneumatic tools. OSHA responded to a safety complaint two days prior to the fatality and found that the company exposed workers to fall hazards of up to 20 feet and failed to install guardrails on walkways. Proposed penalties total $113,131. Read the news release for more information.

Connecticut diagnostic laboratory cited for not protecting workers from chemical hazards

Complaints of sore throats, headaches and difficulty breathing from employees of Quest Diagnostics Corp.'s Ameripath laboratory resulted in an OSHA inspection of the Bridgeport, Conn., facility. Inspectors found violations of the agency's laboratory safety standard. Other violations included failing to: allow appropriate medical examinations for workers showing symptoms of exposure to hazardous chemicals; train workers on how to detect the presence of hazardous chemicals; and implement a chemical hygiene plan for lab workers.

"A laboratory chemical hygiene plan is not a paper exercise."

— OSHA Area Director Robert Kowalski

"A laboratory chemical hygiene plan is not a paper exercise," said Robert Kowalski, OSHA's area director in Bridgeport. "It's a continuous ongoing process that is key to preventing employees from being sickened by the hazardous chemicals with which they work." The company was cited for 17 safety violations and proposed penalties of $152,435. Read the news release for more information.

Two Florida contractors face $267K in fines after continuing to expose workers to deadly fall hazards

After citing AJ New Construction and Repair Inc. of St. Johns, Fla., in 2014 and again in 2015 for repeated and serious violations of workplace safety standards, OSHA recently inspected two company sites and issued new citations. The latest citations — one willful and one repeated violation — were issued in August after the company allowed its employees to work from heights up to 10 feet without fall protection. Proposed penalties total $139,000. For details, see the news release.

After conducting another construction site inspection in Florida recently, OSHA cited Rogero & Williams Roofing Contractors Inc. of St. Augustine for one willful and one serious safety violation. OSHA found employees at a residence performing re-roofing work without fall protection. The employer also failed to require a worker to wear eye protection while using a blower to move debris. Proposed penalties total $128,077. For information, see the news release.

"Falls are a leading cause of death in the construction industry and can be prevented if employers ensure workers are protected with a fall protection system," said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville. More life-saving information about preventing falls is at OSHA's Stop Falls webpage.

State Plan enforcement cases

The following are recent examples of enforcement cases from state occupational safety and health programs. For more examples of state and federal enforcement cases, visit OSHA's online enforcement penalties map.

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries issued $51,500 in fines to Alki Construction LLC of Seattle after an inspection revealed safety violations that contributed to the death of a worker in a trench collapse. WA L&I inspectors determined that the company failed to install a protective system to prevent cave-ins, provide a ladder or other safe means to exit the trench, and establish a formal prevention program addressing trenching and excavation hazards. For more information, see the news release.

California OSHA issued $101,385 in penalties to SW Forage LLC of Hesperia following a February incident where a worker was caught and killed in a forage compactor. Cal/OSHA inspectors concluded that the company failed to properly label, stop and de-energize machine movements during cleaning and servicing, exposing the worker to fatal injuries. The company also failed to train workers on hazardous energy control procedures and did not provide guardrails on all open sides of elevated work locations.