Inspectors Armed with New Online Tool to Detect Flagrant Violations


The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced that its Inspectors’ Portable Application for Laptops (IPAL), is now equipped with an online tool to alert federal inspectors that certain violations will be reviewed for special assessment as flagrant violations.

When an inspector electronically enters a violation that meets the criteria for review as a potential flagrant violation, IPAL will display a pop-up message reminding the inspector to complete a Special Assessment Review Form for that violation. The Special Assessment Review Form will automatically open after the warning message has displayed.

Flagrant violations cited by MSHA inspectors must meet specific evaluation criteria for reckless or repeated failure violations, including:

  • A citation or order is evaluated as significant and substantial.
  • An injury or illness is evaluated as at least permanently disabling.
  • A citation or order is evaluated as an unwarrantable failure.
  • Negligence is evaluated as reckless disregard.
  • At least two prior “unwarrantable failure” violations of the same safety or health standard have been cited within the past 15 months.
  • A violation is caused by an unwarrantable failure if the operator has engaged in “aggravated conduct constituting more than ordinary negligence.”

“The pop-up message is yet another tool to assist our inspectors in citing violations efficiently and accurately,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.

The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 established a provision for a flagrant violation, which is defined as “a reckless or repeated failure to make reasonable efforts to eliminate a known violation of a mandatory safety and health standard that substantially and proximately caused, or reasonably could have been expected to cause, death or serious bodily injury.” Under the MINER Act, a civil penalty of up to $220,000 may be assessed for each flagrant violation.

The IPAL enables mine inspectors to electronically access a wide variety of data, including accident and injury information, inspection and violation history, incidence rates, the Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, and the MINER Act.

How to Prepare for OSHA Adoption of the GHS for Classification and Labeling of Chemicals

OSHA has announced that by August of this year, it will finalize a rule adopting the globally harmonized system (GHS) for the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals. This means that virtually every product label, material safety data sheet (soon to be called “safety data sheet”), and written hazard communication plan must be revised to meet the new standard. Worker training must be updated so that workers can recognize and understand the symbols and pictograms on the new labels as well as the new hazard statements and precautions on MSDSs.

Environmental Resource Center is offering a 1-hour webcast to help you learn about how the new rule differs from current requirements, how to implement the changes, and when the changes must be implemented.

The $99 webcast will be conducted from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm ET on the following dates:

  • May 16th
  • June 2nd
  • June 17th

The first four webcasts held this year were completely sold out. Register early to ensure your spot in one of the remaining sessions. Click here to register online or call 800-537-2372 to register by phone.

Advertising Opportunities Available

Environmental Resource Center is making a limited number of advertising positions available in the Safety Tip of the Week™, the Environmental Tip of the Week™, and the Reg of the Day™. If you have a product or service that would be of interest to over 25,000 weekly readers, contact Amy Knight at or 919-469-1585 for details.

California Establishes Maximum Allowable Dose Level for Acrylamide

On February 26, 2010, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking announcing the proposed adoption of a 140 ug/day Maximum Allowable Dose Level (MADL) for acrylamide as an amendment to Title 27, California Code of Regulations, Section 25805 (27 Cal. Code Regs., Section 25805). A 45–day public comment period was commenced from the publication of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on February 26, 2010 until April 27, 2010. The Notice also stated that a public hearing would be held on request. No such request was received and no written comments were received. The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved the adoption of the MADL for acrylamide and the amendment to 27 Cal Code Regs., section 25805 on March 30, 2011 and the regulation was filed with the Secretary of State the same day. The amendment will become effective April 29, 2011.

N.C. Department of Labor Warns Businesses about Poster Scams

The N.C. Department of Labor (NCDOL) provides labor law posters free of charge to the public, but that has never stopped private poster companies from trying to make a buck off businesses by threatening them with huge fines. Be aware that poster companies have recently added email messages and phone calls to their toolbox of tricks.

“This is my annual reminder to ignore the ridiculous solicitations,” Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said. “Your tax dollars have already purchased your business a poster, so save your money and call NCDOL for your free set.”

Private poster companies make money selling expensive posters by threatening businesses into buying the latest poster or risk incurring substantial fines from NCDOL. The poster companies have been known to charge as much as $190 per poster. NCDOL has seen an increase in complaints about the emails and phone calls.

NCDOL will not fine businesses that have the old posters displayed. NCDOL inspectors carry the newest posters in their vehicles and will offer them free to employers who have out-of-date posters.

“We would never fine an employer unless the employer just blatantly refused to put the posters up,” Commissioner Berry said. “I don’t know of any employer who has refused to take a free set of posters from one of our inspectors.” The labor law posters are required under North Carolina law. The posters carry information on the state’s Wage and Hour Act and OSHA regulations.

The latest version of the poster is dated 2011 due to a minor change in the workers' compensation section. Businesses with the 2009 version do not need to order new posters. Businesses that need to order new posters can visit NCDOL’s website at or call 1-800-625-2267.

Egregious Safety Violations Result in Proposed Fines of $378,000

Outland Renewable Services has been issued six citations for willful safety violations after a wind farm technician suffered severe burns from an electrical arc flash on October 20, 2010. OSHA issued the citations following an investigation at the Iberdrola Streator Cayuga Ridge South Wind Farm near Odell, Illinois. The company, a servicing and maintenance provider in the wind tower industry faces proposed penalties of $378,000.

“Green jobs are an important part of our economy, and sectors such as wind energy are growing rapidly. That growth comes with a continued responsibility for employers to ensure that the health and safety of workers is never compromised,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Outland’s management was aware of the potentially hazardous conditions to which its workers could have been exposed and showed intentional disregard for employee safety by ignoring OSHA’s requirements for isolating energy sources during servicing operations. Employers must not cut corners at the expense of their workers’ safety.”

Outland Renewable Services was issued the citations for exposing maintenance technicians to electrical hazards from the unexpected energization of transformers in three wind turbine towers. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

On the day of the incident, Outland Renewable Services failed to ensure technicians working in wind farm towers affixed their own energy isolation devices—also known as personal lock and tag devices—on the tower turbine switch gear at ground level. That created the possibility for other workers to energize transformers in the turbine towers, upon which technicians were working at a distance of approximately 350 feet above ground. The injured worker suffered third degree burns to his neck, chest and arms, and second degree burns to the face as a result of an arc flash that occurred when a transformer was unexpectedly energized by another worker.

The egregious violations in this case fall under the requirements of OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program. Initiated in the spring of 2010, the program is intended to focus on employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat, or failure-to-abate violations in one or more of the following circumstances: a fatality or catastrophe; industry operations or processes that expose workers to severe occupational hazards; exposure to hazards related to the potential releases of highly hazardous chemicals; and all per-instance citation (egregious) enforcement actions.

Outland Renewable Services’ corporate offices are located in Canaby, Minnesota. This OSHA inspection was the first conducted at the Iberdrola Streator Caugya Ridge South Wind Farm.

New OSHA Injury Prevention Sheet on Shipyard Rigging Hazards

OSHA recently published a new Safety and Health Injury Prevention Sheet (SHIPS) on rigging that explains what employers must do to protect shipyard workers from rigging hazards.

Workers performing rigging functions use ropes and cables to secure a ship’s parts and sections for lifting by cranes, hoists, and other material handling equipment. Loads that are improperly rigged can expose workers to hazards including falls, electric shock, amputation, and being crushed by objects.

The SHIPS contains sections on how shipyard workers are exposed to hazards such as falls, shocks, and traumatic injuries. The SHIPS also describes cases of workers injured or killed while performing rigging operations. Pictures accompany the descriptions of the cases to illustrate unsafe work practices. The publication also contains analyses of the unsafe conditions and practices that contributed to the worker’s injury or fatality, as well as measures employers should implement to prevent similar incidents from reoccurring.

“Far too many workers in shipyard employment have suffered severe injuries or have died from preventable hazards,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Employers who follow the guidance provided in this injury prevention sheet will create a safer, more healthful work environment for their workers.”

This SHIPS offers training information written in plain language, and includes mini-posters making it reader friendly for workers and employers. OSHA has a number of other maritime-related information materials available on the OSHA Maritime Industry Webpage. It provides employers and maritime workers with information and assistance to help them ensure a safe workplace by complying with OSHA standards. Included on the page are links to maritime standards and compliance assistance, information on the OSHA Maritime Outreach Training Program for employers and workers, and safety and health topics pages on specific maritime issues.

OSHA Fines Champion Builders $143,000 for Willful, Repeat and Serious Violations

OSHA cited Champion Builders LLC for alleged willful, serious, and repeat violations of workplace safety standards following OSHA’s inspection of a hotel construction site in Madison, Connecticut. The Bristol, Connecticut steel erection contractor faces a total of $143,000 in proposed fines, primarily for fall hazards at the 94 West Wharf Road work site.

OSHA found employees exposed to falls of up to 53 feet while working without protection on the building’s roof, and to falls of 7 to 25 feet from unprotected or inadequately protected wall and window openings. Other fall hazards stemmed from an unguarded floor hole, missing or inadequate stair railings, and a lack of training for workers to recognize and address fall hazards. In addition, the operator of a powered industrial truck used to move steel around the job site was not trained in its safe operation, exposing employees to being struck or crushed by the vehicle.

“The sizable fines proposed here reflect not only the gravity of these conditions but the employer’s knowledge of them and history of similar violations,” said Robert Kowalski, OSHA’s area director in Bridgeport. “The citations address the employer’s failure to comply with basic construction safety requirements. These conditions must be effectively addressed so they do not occur again.”

As a result of its inspection, OSHA issued Champion Builders two willful citations with $110,000 in proposed fines for the rooftop and powered industrial truck hazards; three serious citations with $19,000 in fines for hazards relating to the floor hole, stair rail, and lack of training; and one repeat citation with a $14,000 fine for the unguarded window and wall openings.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The repeat citation stems from OSHA having cited the company in June 2007 for a similar hazard in East Hartford.

OSHA Cites APBN Inc. for Fall, Water Hazards on Bridge Construction Project

OSHA issued APBN Inc., of Campbell, Ohio 13 safety citations for failing to provide fall protection and implement water safety procedures for workers sandblasting and painting the Interstate 75 Disalle Bridge more than 40 feet above the Maumee River last October as part of an Ohio Department of Transportation project. The company faces penalties totaling $193,200 and will be placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

“Falls are a leading cause of injury and death in the workplace. There is no excuse for failing to provide protection for employees facing fall and water hazards,” said Jule Hovi, OSHA’s area director in Toledo. “Employers are responsible for knowing the hazards that exist on their job sites and implementing safety measures to protect workers who are exposed to risks that could result in injury or death.”

APBN was issued three willful citations, with penalties of $147,000, for allowing workers to be exposed to a 40–50 feet fall while climbing on and off of the abutment walls to access the two suspended scaffold platforms on the north and south sides of the Disalle Bridge; not ensuring workers wore fall protection on the job site; and not having a lifesaving skiff, ring buoys, and life jackets available in the event that a worker fell into the river.

Ten serious citations with penalties of $46,200 were issued for misuse of ladders; not extending ladders 3 feet above the abutment wall and not having grip handles on ladders; failing to have qualified personnel inspect scaffolding before each work shift and be present for the erection, moving, altering or dismantling of scaffolding; failing to have a qualified person train workers on scaffolding usage and safety; not protecting lifelines from abrasions and damage, failing to have qualified personnel design and install lifelines; failing to properly inspect and retighten wire rope clips on suspended platforms; failing to protect electrical outlets with ground fault circuit interrupters; and failing to use equipment in accordance with certification standards.

OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection, such as guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems, be in use when workers’ activities are 6 feet or more above the next lower level.

Bakery Cited for 49 Violations Following Finger Amputation

OSHA cited Lone Star Bakery Inc., for 32 serious, one repeat, and 16 other-than-serious violations following an amputation incident and multiple inspections at two of the company’s facilities in China Grove, Texas. Violations include exposing workers to combustible dust, fall and electrical hazards, among others. Proposed penalties total $229,400.

“This company has jeopardized the health and safety of its workers,” said Jeff Funke, OSHA’s area director in San Antonio. “Employees were exposed to many hazards, including excessive accumulations of combustible flour dust that could have ignited and caused serious injuries.”

OSHA’s San Antonio Area Office initiated a safety and health inspection on October 18, 2010, at the company’s facility at 8100 E. U.S. Highway 87, following a finger tip amputation incident on the pie processing line. A second safety inspection began on December 15, 2010, at the company’s facility at 6905 E. U.S. Highway 87 as the result of a fire that occurred from excessive buildup of bread materials in the ovens. A second health inspection was initiated January 24 at the company’s 8100 Highway 87 facility following a report that employees were being exposed to excessive levels of noise and not being protected by a hearing conservation program.

The serious violations include failing to ensure that employees were protected from falls; clean combustible dust from workroom floors and other surfaces; cover drain openings; ensure that exits were free from obstructions and unlocked; and ensure electrical deficiencies were corrected.

The repeat violation is failing to ensure that a metal junction box was permanently mounted in accordance with the listing and labeling required by the manufacturer. OSHA cited Lone Star Bakery for a similar violation following a 2006 inspection that resulted in total penalties of $78,300.

Other-than-serious violations include failing to record each work-related injury or illness case that met general recording criteria, and complete an incident report form for each work-related injury or illness case that met the general recording criteria for both locations from 2007 to 2010. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

Lone Star Bakery is a private commercial bakery that employs about 500 workers at the two China Grove facilities.

OSHA Fines Aluminum Finishing $126,000 for a Variety of Safety Violations

OSHA has issued Aluminum Finishing, LLC, in Adel, Georgia 18 safety citations for a variety of hazards, including a lack of fall protection and dangers from the corroded components of the facility’s structural integrity. Proposed penalties total $125,818. OSHA opened an inspection in October 2010 as a follow-up to an April 2010 inspection and a complaint alleging the hazards.

Aluminum Finishing was issued one willful citation with a penalty of $53,900 for exposing employees to fall hazards while walking on top of a steel beam without proper fall protection.

The company was issued six repeat citations with $43,120 in penalties for failing to have employees use fall protection while working above dip tanks, ensure emergency lighting is operational, guard live electrical equipment, cover open troughs to prevent tripping, and provide sanitary conditions for workers. The company was cited for similar violations in October 2008 and April 2010.

Eight serious citations with $28,798 in penalties were issued for allowing employees to work near a dip tank without the proper eye or face protection; exposing workers to shock, electrocution, and burn injuries; not properly adjusting the work rest on the floor grinder; and having an emergency eye wash unit with inadequate water pressure. The inspection also revealed that workers were exposed to struck-by hazards from corroded ceiling objects, including sprinkler system pipes, metal wall sheathing, and light fixtures.

The company received three other-than-serious citations with no proposed penalties for failing to establish or implement a written respiratory protection program, anchor the floor grinder to the floor, and mount a portable fire extinguisher.

“This company has disregarded the safety of its employees and repeatedly allowed them to be exposed to struck-by hazards from structural failure, electrocution hazards and falls,” said Robert Vazzi, OSHA’s area director in Savannah. “Immediate action needs to be taken to protect employees from these workplace hazards.”

OSHA Cites Davisco Foods International for Safety Violations at Jerome Cheese Co.

OSHA cited Davisco Foods International, doing business as Jerome Cheese Co., in Jerome, Idaho for 12 serious and one repeat violation after an inspection of the company’s facility identified two incidents of anhydrous ammonia release, an absence of fall protection, the employer’s failure to implement an emergency response plan, and other workplace hazards. Proposed penalties total $111,000.

OSHA’s area office in Boise, Idaho, began an investigation last year as part of a national emphasis program on chemical facilities.

“This employer failed to devote sufficient resources to its process safety management program, thereby exposing workers to the threat of serious injury or death associated with potential releases of anhydrous ammonia,” said Dean Ikeda, OSHA’s regional administrator in Seattle. “Additionally, OSHA identified violations related to the employer’s failure to implement an emergency response plan.”

The serious violations involve inadequate process safety management, inadequate process hazard analysis, inadequate process safety information, failure to implement an emergency response plan, and failure to provide fall protection. In addition, the employer allowed use of less protective equipment and did not provide enough emergency eyewash and showers for employees.

The employer’s failure to implement an emergency response plan also represents the repeat citation because the company was cited for a similar violation on May 24, 2007.

Davisco Foods International, based in Le Sueur, Minnesota, also has cheese manufacturing facilities in Minnesota and North Dakota, and sales offices in several countries.

Goodwin Ammonia Co. Fined for Willful and Serious Violations

OSHA cited Goodwin Ammonia Co., for 16 safety and health violations at its manufacturing plant in Lawrenceville, Georgia. OSHA began its inspection of the plant in October 2010 as part of a site-specific targeting program focused on industries with high occupational injury and illness rates. Proposed penalties total $128,550.

A willful safety citation, with the maximum penalty of $70,000, was issued for exposing employees to amputation hazards from a lack of machine guarding on production machines.

Goodwin Ammonia was issued 11 serious citations, with penalties of $58,550, for exposing workers to fall, electrical, and confined space entry hazards; failing to provide an emergency response plan to potential chemical spills; and allowing employees to improperly use compressed air to clean equipment.

Four other-than-serious citations with no monetary penalties were issued for not installing directional signs in the warehouse, not conducting medical evaluation and training of employees who were voluntarily using full face and half mask respirators, not informing employees of confined space dangers, and not re-evaluating employees trained as forklift operators after three years.

“Eliminating safety barriers and failing to develop emergency plans because they are inconvenient or time-consuming is no excuse for endangering employees,” said William Fulcher, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East Area Office. “Employees should not have to risk their safety or health for a paycheck.”

OSHA Cites Tampa Enterprises for Fall Hazards

OSHA issued Tampa Enterprises, operating as European Craft Construction, five safety citations for failing to provide fall protection for workers at a commercial job site in Columbus, Ohio. The company faces penalties totaling $161,000 as a result of OSHA’s December inspection.

“Falls are one of the leading causes of injury and death in the construction industry,” said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA’s area director in Columbus. “Employers are responsible for knowing what hazards exist on their job sites, taking appropriate precautions and following OSHA standards to ensure that workers are not exposed to safety risks.”

Tampa Enterprises was issued four repeat safety citations, with proposed penalties of $154,000, for allowing employees to use cross braces as a means of access when the scaffold platform was more than 2 feet above a point of access; failing to have guard rail systems installed along all open sides and ends of platforms; failing to erect a toe board along the edge of a platform more than 10 feet above workers on lower levels to protect them from materials that may fall; and failing to ensure employees working from a scaffold were properly trained and aware of fall protection requirements, safe access, and toe boards. Tampa Enterprises previously was cited for using cross braces as a means of access, and failing to install guardrails and toe boards in 2006 at other work sites in Ohio.

One serious citation with a proposed penalty of $7,000 was issued for failing to install all required fall protection systems for employees working from scaffolds.

Tampa Enterprises is headquartered in Dalton, Georgia. The inspection was conducted under a local emphasis program for fall hazards.

OSHA Cites Trimat Construction for Trench Violations

OSHA issued Trimat Construction Inc., of Bidwell, Ohio six safety citations after a trench collapsed at a job site in Mercerville on March 8. The company faces penalties of $63,360.

An OSHA inspector was performing a work site inspection when he directed an employee to exit the trench, believing collapse was imminent. Within five minutes the trench collapsed and could have buried the worker under 6 to 7 feet of soil.

“The actions of the compliance officer likely saved this worker’s life,” said David Wilson, assistant area director of OSHA’s Columbus Area Office. “Cave-ins are a leading cause of worker fatalities during excavations.”

Two willful citations were issued for allowing a Trimat employee to work in a trench at a depth greater than 10 feet without cave-in protection or a safe means of egress.

The company also was issued four serious citations for failing to require employees to wear head protection, failing to provide training on proper set-up and inspection procedures for maintaining channelization devices between the work area and road to protect workers from traffic hazards; failure to provide a road zone barrier; and failing to keep excavated material and equipment 2 feet from the edge of an excavation to prevent a cave-in.

The inspection was conducted under OSHA’s national emphasis program on trenching and excavation. OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse.

Tyson Fresh Meats Cited for PSM and Other Hazards

OSHA cited Tyson Fresh Meats in Lexington, Nebraska for one repeat and seven serious violations following combined safety and health inspections at the facility. Proposed penalties total $66,000.

OSHA’s inspections of Tyson Fresh Meats, a red meat producer, were initiated in January under the agency’s Site-Specific Targeting Program for industries with high occupational injury and illness rates, and its Process Safety Management (PSM) covered chemical facilities National Emphasis Program. OSHA’s PSM standard emphasizes the management of hazards associated with highly hazardous chemicals and establishes a comprehensive management program that integrates technologies, procedures, and management practices.

“OSHA has a stringent PSM standard,” said Charles E. Adkins, the agency’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Missouri. “It is imperative that employers rigorously update and properly maintain each element of the process to minimize hazards, and that they provide an overall safe and healthful workplace for employees.”

Four of the serious citations were for failing to guard a rotating shaft, using compressed air for cleaning at over 30 pounds per square inch, failing to cover an electrical fitting, and failing to determine the concentration of carbon dioxide, a respiratory hazard. Additionally, deficiencies that had been identified in ammonia refrigeration systems were not corrected before further use or in a safe and timely manner, and appropriate checks and inspections were not performed for the installation of process valves.

The repeat citation is similar to a PSM-related citation issued in May 2008 for the company’s failure to address the co-location of gas-fired boilers and ammonia compressors.

Leather Finisher Cited for 20 Safety Violations Following Worker Injury

OSHA cited Pearl Leather Finishing, Inc., for 20 alleged violations of workplace health and safety standards at its Johnstown, New York plant. The company, which supplies finished and cut leather products, was cited following an October 2010 incident in which an employee’s hand became caught in an embossing press.

OSHA’s inspection found that the press lacked adequate guarding which would have prevented workers from coming in contact with its point of operation. The inspection also identified several other instances of unguarded or inadequately guarded machinery as well as a lack of procedures, tools, and training to ensure that machines were shut down and their power sources locked out before employees performed maintenance on them.

“This case is a stark example of the devastating consequences to workers when adequate machine guarding is absent,” said Edward Jerome, OSHA’s area director in Albany. “Had the press been effectively guarded this injury would not have occurred. Pearl Leather Finishing must take complete, prompt and effective action to correct these hazards and prevent them from recurring.”

Additional hazards identified during the inspection included lack of a hazard assessment to determine personal protective equipment needed by workers, lack of protective eyewear, lack of a written respirator program and medical evaluations, blocked fire extinguisher access, lack of a chemical hazard communication program, electrical hazards, a fall hazard, lack of a load rating for an overhead storage area, and excess pressure for a compressed air hose. OSHA issued 19 serious citations for the violations, with $104,400 in proposed fines.

The company also was issued one other-than-serious citation, with a fine of $900, for inaccurately recording an injury.

“A key tool in addressing and preventing hazards such as these is for employers to establish an injury and illness prevention program through which workers and management work together on an ongoing basis to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions in the workplace,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York.

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