Safety Smart Compliance: Recent OSHA Fines

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: October 26th, 2015

Following is a compilation of some recently cited safety and health violations and penalties reported by OSHA. Check to see that similar infractions are not occurring in your workplace before an OSHA inspector comes knocking.

Region 1

OSHA Cites Bridgeport Family Dollar Store for exit access hazards. An April 6, 2015, inspection found that the emergency exit route through a storeroom was completely blocked by carts and boxes of merchandise, and boxes of stock stored in tiers were not properly stacked and secured to prevent them from sliding or collapsing on workers. In addition, the storeroom’s exit doors were not clearly marked; a helium gas cylinder used to inflate balloons was not secured to prevent it from falling; and an aluminum ladder was stored against an electrical panel. These hazards resulted in OSHA citing two repeated and three serious violations carrying $72,000 in proposed penalties. The company was cited for exit access and storage hazards at another store in West Haven, CT, in March 2011. [Family Dollar Stores of Connecticut Inc., Bridgeport, CT, Aug. 13, 2015].

Region 4

Atlanta Journal Constitution Newspaper Cited for repeatedly exposing workers to amputation, electrocution and other workplace hazards. OSHA is proposing $65,550 in penalties against the company for one repeated and five serious safety violations. The repeated citation was issued for exposing workers to the possibility of amputations and becoming entangled in machinery that lacked safety guards. Serious violations involve failure to develop and utilize procedures to prevent machinery from starting up during maintenance and servicing, and exposing workers to live electrical wiring. [Cox Enterprises Inc., doing business as The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta, GA, Aug. 5, 2015].

Alabama Roofing Contractor Sentenced for making false statements to OSHA after three workers suffered injuries. Marcus Borden, a steel and roofing contractor, has been placed on three years’ supervised probation and ordered to perform 30 hours of community service after making false statements and lying to OSHA inspectors regarding an incident investigation. Borden was supervising a crew of five men working on a roofing project when a severe thunderstorm occurred. Three of the five men were seriously injured. One worker was thrown against the edge of a new metal roof and suffered a left arm amputation. A second worker was thrown across a roof and suffered an injured shoulder, and a third worker became wrapped in a sheet of metal and thrown 30 feet to the ground. That worker broke his wrists, tailbone and pelvis. None of the workers had been provided with fall protection equipment, they were not tied off to the roof, and they had no means of quickly exiting the roof in an emergency. Borden told an OSHA inspector that he had been present on the jobsite on the day of the incident and that he had obtained personal fall arrest equipment to protect workers from falls on March 13, 2013. In fact, he retained the equipment on March 18, 2013, after the incident occurred. Borden also claimed that employees had been tied off when he knew that wasn’t true. The company was also fined $55,000 for violations that included willful failure to provide workers with fall protection while working within six feet of an open edge that was 30 feet above the ground. Other violations, classified as serious in nature, included exposing workers to severe weather conditions; not securing metal decking during inclement weather conditions; and failure to notify OSHA about the workers being admitted to hospital following a work-related incident. [Marcus Borden, steel and roofing contractor, Russellville, AL, Aug. 24, 2015].

Air Filter Manufacturer Issued $119,900 in Fines for two repeated and two serious violations. OSHA identified failure to provide proper machine guarding to protect workers from amputation hazards, and failure to follow safety procedures to prevent machinery from starting up unexpectedly during maintenance and servicing. [American Air Filter Co. Inc., doing business as AAF International, Atlanta, GA, Aug. 25, 2015].

Region 5

Plastic Injection Molding Company Cited after worker suffers serious burns. A 36-year-old worker suffered burns to his eyes, face and hands while troubleshooting and cleaning a mold located within a plastic injection press. OSHA investigators found that procedures had not been taken to prevent the machine from releasing hot plastic during maintenance. The company was cited for eight serious and two other-than-serious violations carrying $48,900 in proposed fines. The serious violations include failure to provide PPE to protect workers against burns and falls; failure to comply with machine safety procedures, such as the use of locking devices and de-energizing equipment; failure to train workers about machine safety procedures and hazards; exposing workers to fall hazards while accessing parts of presses; and not maintaining floors in a dry condition. [Wilbert Inc., operating as Wilbert Plastic Services, Belmont, NC, Aug. 3, 2015].

Chicken Processor Faces $861,500 in Proposed Fines after inspectors find workers still being exposed to serious amputation, electrocution and fall hazards. Acting on a referral, OSHA cited the company for two willful, 20 repeated, 30 serious and three other-than-serious safety and health violations. They include amputation hazards; fall hazards due to non-functioning fall-arrest systems; unprotected platforms and wet work surfaces; a lack of PPE; numerous violations of electrical safety standards; improperly stored oxygen cylinders; and a lack of emergency eyewash stations. The company has been placed on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. OSHA has inspected the company—a leading supplier of chicken to national fast food and supermarket brands— 66 times since 1988 and cited violations in 42 of those inspections. [Case Farms Processing Inc., Winesburg, OH, Aug. 13, 2015].

Illinois Construction Companies and a Manager Issued Nearly $2 Million in Fines for exposing workers to known asbestos hazards. Kehrer Brothers and Joseph Kehrer face $1,792,000 in penalties for willfully exposing at least eight workers to asbestos. OSHA inspectors found that Kehrer and supervisors of the Albers, IL-based company told employees to remove asbestos-containing materials during renovations of the former Okawville, IL, school. The investigation also found that Kehrer management threatened some workers with termination if they spoke with OSHA inspectors. Joseph Kehrer and Kehrer Brothers were cited for 16 egregious, nine willful and six serious violations. These include failure to provide basic PPE such as hardhats, protective eyewear and protective clothing; create a decontamination area for employees to use to remove work clothing before leaving the worksite; and use appropriate work methods to minimize asbestos exposure, such as removing tiles intact and using wet methods to keep asbestos fibers from becoming airborne. D7 Roofing, a Kehrer-affiliated company, was issued two willful violations for not training the workers or informing them of the presence of asbestos-containing materials; and one serious violation for failure to conduct inspections as required by law. Proposed penalties against D7 total $147,000.  [Joseph Kehrer, Kehrer Brothers Construction and a Kehrer-affiliated company, D7 Roofing, Albers, IL, Aug. 11, 2015].

Wisconsin Packaging Plant Disabled Machine Safety Devices to speed production, says OSHA. An inspection was initiated by a complaint from a former employee who had been injured at the packaging plant in 2014. OSHA cited one willful violation after investigators found safety guards and interlocks had been bypassed on three packing lines, allowing workers to come in contact with operating parts of machines. The violation carries a proposed $63,000 penalty. [Warren Industries Inc., Pleasant Prairie, WI, Aug. 6, 2015].

Emergency Medical Transport Company Ignored Health Precautions, says OSHA. Inspectors found that Lifefleet LLC did not adequately protect employees who transport patients from exposure to blood and other bodily fluids. Exposure to these fluids could lead to serious diseases, including hepatitis and HIV. Violations included failure to clean, launder or dispose of PPE and clothing at no cost to employees; failure to ensure that medical evaluations and procedures, including blood tests, were made available quickly to employees after an exposure; not providing employees with the results of post-exposure evaluation tests; and failure to train workers on health hazards and precautions to prevent exposure. Workers weren’t required to use gloves and facemasks when contacting infectious materials; workers were not trained on hazardous workplace chemicals; and the company did not review and update the exposure control plan annually. It also failed to establish and maintain a sharps injury log. Workers were also exposed to slip and fall hazards from standing water in an ambulance bay, and exit routes were found to be obstructed. OSHA cited four willful, seven serious and three other-than-serious violations carrying $235,800 in proposed fines. [Lifefleet LLC, North Lima, OH, Aug. 11, 2015].

Region 6

Trucking Company Cited for multiple hazards. Responding to a complaint, OSHA conducted an inspection and cited one willful, 27 serious and five other violations for exposing workers to various safety and health hazards. The willful violation was for failure to provide fall protection and some of the 27 serious violations include noise, respiratory, fire and electrical hazards, exposure to silica, failure to train industrial truck operators, and not maintaining unobstructed exit routes. Other violations include ungrounded electrical equipment, unmarked exits and an uncovered electrical outlet box. Proposed penalties total $156,800. [Transporter Maintenance and Inspection LLC, a subsidiary of L&B Holdings LLC, Port Allen, LA, Aug. 7, 2015].

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