Self-Contained Self-Rescuers Do Not Conform to Safety Requirements


The DOL’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MHSA) has announced that mine operators must immediately begin phasing out the use of SR-100 self-contained self-rescuers manufactured by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based CSE Corp. The announcement, made in conjunction with the department’s OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), was prompted by the April 13 NIOSH report of a joint NIOSH-MSHA investigation that determined the units do not conform to safety requirements. Self-contained self-rescuers are portable devices that, in the event of an emergency, can provide underground miners with up to 60 minutes of breathable air.

By April 26, 2013, mine operators are required to replace—with any other approved one-hour SCSR—those SR-100s that are worn or carried by miners and stored on mantrips. The entire phase-out of all SR-100 units must be completed by December 31, 2013.

“Due to the large number of CSE SR-100s in underground coal mines, multiple SCSRs available to miners, the low probability of failure, and the shortage of immediately available replacements, MSHA and NIOSH have determined that an orderly phase-out will better protect the safety of miners than immediate withdrawal of the devices,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.

Following the identification of a potential problem with the starter oxygen system on two SR-100s by NIOSH and later by the manufacturer during routine quality control testing, an investigation was launched. The company voluntarily stopped selling the units, and additional safety protections and new training measures for miners were put in place to address the potential problem.

NIOSH developed a protocol and began a testing process in October 2010 for the prevalence of failure of the oxygen starter and, along with MSHA, collected 500 of the approximately 70,000 units deployed in underground coal mines throughout the US. Five of those units proved defective, exceeding the maximum allowable failure rate of 1%, which includes a safety margin for error.

MSHA and NIOSH jointly approve respirators for use in the nation’s mines. At the time of the investigation, the SR-100 was one of three one-hour SCSR models in use.

Under the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006, coal mine operators are required to provide additional SCSRs for each miner underground in areas such as working places, on mantrips, in escapeways, and where outby crews work or travel. The rule also requires that SCSRs be readily accessible in the event of an emergency.

For further information, visit the CSE-SR-100 single-source page on MSHA’s website at

40-Hour and 24-Hour HAZWOPER Training

Environmental Resource Center will offer 40-Hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) training May 14–18, and 24-Hour HAZWOPER training May 14–16, in Cary, North Carolina. To register for either HAZWOPER course, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.

Hilton Head RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Hilton Head, South Carolina, from May 23–25 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.

Orlando RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Orlando, Florida, from May 30–June 1 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.

How to Prepare for OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS)

OSHA has issued a final rule revising its Hazard Communication Standard, aligning it with the United Nations’ globally harmonized system (GHS) for the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals. This means that virtually every product label, MSDS (called “safety data sheet” or SDS under the new standard), 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 SDSs.

Environmental Resource Center is offering webcast training for you to learn how the new rule differs from current requirements, how to implement the changes, and when the changes must be implemented. Register for an upcoming webcast on How to Prepare for OSHAs Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS) offered on the following dates:

  • May 18
  • June 26
  • July 18
  • August 15
  • October 2

How to Author GHS Safety Data Sheets

OSHA has adopted the new Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals. A cornerstone of GHS is the adoption of a completely revised Safety Data Sheet (SDS). In Environmental Resource Center’s new, How to Author GHS Safety Data Sheets webcast, you will learn the differences between the MSDS and SDS, how to author SDSs that meet the latest OSHA standards, how to classify your products according to the 28 GHS hazard classes and 88 categories, what must be entered in each section of the SDS, essential references you can use to locate data for each section of the SDS, and how to handle trade secrets.

To learn what you must do to meet the new SDS requirements, register for an upcoming How to Author GHS Safety Data Sheets webcast offered on the following dates:

  • June 27
  • October 3

How to Label Hazardous Chemicals Using OSHA’s New GHS Hazcom Standard

Workplace and supplier hazard communication labels are being reinvented with OSHA’s adoption of the new Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for labeling hazardous chemicals. In a new, interactive Environmental Resource Center webcast, How to Label Hazardous Chemicals Using OSHA’s New GHS Hazcom Standard, you will learn the difference between workplace and supplier labels; what signal words, hazard statements, precautionary statements, and pictograms must be on your labels; essential references you can use to locate required label information; and how to label products with existing HMIS, NFPA, DOT, and CPSC labels.

The How to Label Hazardous Chemicals Using OSHA’s New GHS Hazcom Standard webcast will be offered on the following dates:

  • June 28
  • October 4

Statement on Withdrawal of Children Who Work in Agricultural Vocations Proposed Rule

The DOL has issued the following statement regarding the withdrawal of a proposed rule dealing with children who work in agricultural vocations:

“The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations. The Obama administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about proposed rules and regulations.”

“As a result, the DOL is announcing the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations.”

“The decision to withdraw this rule—including provisions to define the parental exemption—was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.”

“Instead, the Departments of Labor and Agriculture will work with rural stakeholders—such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the Future Farmers of America, and 4-H—to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices.”

OSHA Launches Outreach Campaign in Midwest for Struck By Vehicle Accidents

OSHA has launched a regional outreach initiative in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska to educate workers and their employers about preventing struck by vehicle accidents in the workplace. Struck by injuries and fatalities are caused by conventional traffic/passenger vehicles, forklifts, and other moving powered industrial equipment such as cranes and yard trucks.

During fiscal years 2008 through 2011, 14% of all workplace fatalities investigated by OSHA’s Kansas City regional offices involved struck by incidents. Causes typically involve reverse vehicle movement into a pedestrian outside the driver’s field of vision, or vehicles falling off ramps, inclines, or unstable ground.

“In the past four years, we have investigated 25 accidents in which workers have died as a result of a struck by vehicle accident,” said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City. “One accident is too many. Our goal with this outreach campaign is to spread awareness and safety tips to avoid struck by accidents.”

OSHA has developed educational materials called Evaluate Your Entire Surroundings, or E.Y.E.S., that are available in both English and Spanish. The materials include a one-page fact sheet with accident data and prevention strategies; OSHA Region 7 Informational Guide for Preventing Struck by Accidents; a brochure that covers risk assessment steps, common operator errors, and safety tips; and a laminated poster.

Accident prevention strategies include staying alert, obeying all traffic rules and signs, minimizing distractions, inspecting and maintaining vehicles, using safety belts, and turning on headlights.

Materials and additional information regarding this initiative can be obtained by contacting OSHA’s offices in St. Louis, Missouri, at 314-425-4249; Wichita, Kansas, at 316-269-6644; Kansas City, Missouri, at 816-483-9531; Omaha, Nebraska, at 402-553-0171; or Des Moines, Iowa, at 515-284-4794.

MSHA Releases First Quarter Mine Fatality Update

MSHA has released a first quarter summary of mining deaths across the country. Ten miners died in work-related accidents at the nation’s mines during the first three months of 2012.

Six coal mining deaths occurred in the following categories: exploding vessels under pressure, drowning, handling materials, rib fall, machinery, and electrical. An uncharacteristic trend identified over the quarter is that five of these fatalities—three of them involving mine supervisors—occurred on five consecutive weekends. Four mining deaths in the metal/nonmetal industry occurred from accidents involving powered haulage, a fall from an elevated walkway, and, in two separate incidents, fall of material.

“Fatalities are preventable,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “Many mines operate every shift of every day, year in and year out, without a fatality or a lost-time injury.”

Joseph A. Main, assistant Secretary of Labor for mine safety and health, noted that fatalities can be prevented by using effective safety and health management programs in the workplace. “Workplace examinations for hazards—pre-shift and on-shift, every shift—can identify and eliminate hazards that kill and injure miners,” he said. “Providing effective and appropriate training will ensure that miners recognize and understand hazards and how to control or eliminate them.”

MSHA has taken a number of actions to identify mines with health and safety problems, and has initiated several outreach and enforcement initiatives, including Rules to Live By, a fatality prevention program highlighting safety and health standards most frequently cited during fatal accident investigations. Last month, MSHA circulated an accident prevention alert to the mining industry in the wake of four consecutive weekends of mine fatalities. The following weekend, a fifth fatality occurred.

An analysis of 2012’s first quarter summary of mining fatalities is available on MSHA’s website at, along with best practices to help mining operations avoid such fatalities.

New England Wood Pellet Cited, Fined $147,000 Following October 2011 Fire

OSHA has cited New England Wood Pellet LLC, for alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards at its wood pellet manufacturing plant on Old Sharon Road in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. The agency has proposed a total of $147,000 in fines for fire and explosion hazards in the aftermath of an October 20, 2011, fire at the plant.

The fire, which started in the pellet mill, was transported through several conveying systems to a pellet cooler and then to a dust collector, and caused several other flash fires. Shortly thereafter, explosions occurred in the dust collector and an exhaust muffler. The explosions sent fireballs outside of the building and likely ignited materials in two silos.

An inspection by OSHA’s Concord Area Office found numerous fire and explosion hazards stemming from the absence of protective devices in the transport system, dust collection duct, and conveyor systems that would prevent sparks, embers, and fires from spreading throughout the system, as well as a lack of effective explosion protection due to the construction and/or location of dust collection ducts. The hazards were exacerbated by a buildup of combustible wood dust on surfaces throughout the plant and from the use of unsafe equipment to vacuum combustible dust.

As a result of its findings, OSHA issued two repeat citations with $140,000 in fines for failing to provide a workplace free of recognized fire and explosion hazards, and for using unapproved electrical equipment to vacuum combustible dust. 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. Similar violations were cited in July 2008.

One serious citation with a $7,000 fine was issued for the buildup of combustible dust on equipment and surfaces throughout the facility. 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.

Information on combustible dust hazards is available online at

The full citations can be viewed at

Nance Carpet and Rug Cited for Exposing Employees to Amputation and Electrical Shock Hazards

OSHA has cited Nance Carpet and Rug Co., Inc., with ten serious violations for exposing workers to amputation and electrical shock hazards at the company’s Calhoun, Georgia, facility. OSHA’s inspection, initiated in November 2011 upon receipt of a complaint, was conducted as part of the agency’s National Emphasis Program on Amputations and its Local Emphasis Program on Powered Industrial Trucks. Proposed penalties total $53,000.

The violations involve failing to develop and use lockout/tagout procedures to control the energy sources of equipment; remove a forklift with an inoperable horn from service; protect workers from electrocution hazards; and provide guards on blades, cutting heads, sprocket wheels, chains, shafts, belts, and pulleys. Nance Carpet and Rug, which employs about 55 workers at its Calhoun facility, manufactures area rugs and remnants for residential and commercial purposes.

MVP Piping Co. Fined $45,000 for Exposing Workers to Trenching Hazards

OSHA has cited MVP Piping Co., Inc., of Acworth, Georgia, for two trenching violations while workers were installing sewer lines along South Lake Terrace in Rossville, Georgia. MVP Piping was contracted by Georgia’s Catoosa County to complete phase three of the sewer project. The inspection was initiated as part of OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. Proposed penalties total $45,000.

A willful citation has been issued for failing to provide workers protection against cave-in hazards while they were working in a trench greater than five feet in depth. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or plain indifference to worker safety and health.

The company also has been cited for a serious violation regarding potential exposure of employees without head protection to falling material while they were working in a trench.

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations five feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available on OSHA’s website at

Metal Fabricator Cited for Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium and Silicia

OSHA has cited S & K Machineworks Co., Inc., with 17 safety and health violations after conducting two inspections at the company’s production facility in Theodore, Alabama. A planned safety inspection began in December 2011 as part of OSHA’s emphasis programs to prevent amputations and injuries related to powered industrial trucks. The identification of exposure to hexavalent chromium and silica triggered a separate health inspection. Proposed penalties total $50,645.

Eleven serious health violations, with $43,400 in fines, involve workers’ exposure to hexavalent chromium and silica, both of which can cause irreversible health problems. The company also lacked both an effective hearing conservation and respiratory programs. Three serious safety violations, with $6,545 in fines, include the presence of floor openings that risked fall hazards, a lack of machine safety guards on an abrasive wheel, and unused openings in cabinets, boxes, and fittings that exposed workers to electrical hazards.

One other-than-serious safety violation, with a $700 penalty, has been cited for not maintaining a complete and adequate log of injuries and illnesses at the workplace. Two other-than-serious safety violations, with no monetary penalties, include the use of an improper electrical conductor and of a pressure vessel in the sand blasting yard missing the proper markings and pressure gauge. 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.

S & K Machineworks fabricates and services storage tanks and pressure vessels.

Contractor Fined $66,660 for Exposing Workers to Fall, Other Hazards at Work Site

OSHA has cited Norcross, Georgia-based construction company LRG Framing Inc., for six safety violations at a residential work site in Cumming, Georgia. OSHA received a referral, and an inspector observed employees working at heights of up to 30 feet without fall protection, among other hazards. Proposed penalties total $66,660.

LRG Framing is being cited with one willful violation, with a $46,200 penalty, for allowing employees to work without fall protection. The same violation has been cited at the company’s construction sites three times since 2006, including in connection with a construction site fatality in East Point, Georgia, in 2007. After the 2007 fatality, the employer attended an OSHA 10-hour safety training course; and after each inspection, the employer entered into an informal settlement agreement with OSHA requiring compliance with all OSHA standards.

One repeat violation, with a $9,240 penalty, is being cited for failing to provide employees with fall protection training. The same violation was cited in 2007.

Four serious violations, with $11,220 in penalties, include failing to ensure that workers use head protection such as hard hats when exposed to overhead hazards, and remove from use a damaged electrical cord and a powered saw with a deficient guard. The company also lacked a training program to teach employees how to avoid electrical, struck-by, and fall hazards.

Garland Welding Cited for Venting, Protective Equipment, and Guarding Violations

OSHA has cited Garland Welding with 30 violations at its Lowellville, Ohio, metal fabrication shop. A complaint prompted a health inspection on October 26, 2011, which triggered a subsequent safety inspection. Proposed fines total $94,500.

“Failing to have proper machine guards increases the risk of amputation, among others,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA’s area director in Cleveland.

Fourteen serious health violations involve failing to provide adequate ventilation within confined spaces during welding operations; evaluate sites as permit-required confined spaces; develop an effective hearing conservation program; develop a written respiratory protection program to evaluate hazards and train workers; train workers to use and periodically inspect fire extinguishers; develop a written hazard communication program to teach chemical awareness; maintain material safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals; assess whether existing hazards necessitate personal protective equipment; and maintain and provide reliable welding helmets. Another health citation involves failing to keep flammable and combustible liquids stored around spray operations to a less than needed per-shift level and in amounts less than 120 gallons outside of storage cabinets.

Additionally, 12 serious safety violations involve failing to establish a hazardous energy control program for equipment maintenance, properly inspect powered industrial trucks, inspect cranes annually, remove defective web slings from service, and provide point-of-operation guards for foot treadles, mechanical presses, and flywheels.

Four other-than-serious violations involve failing to record injuries and illness on the OSHA Form 300 for 2010 and 2011, ensure competent industrial vehicles operation via a training and evaluation program, and provide guarding of a flywheel on a mechanical press brake.

Wrayco Industries Cited for Failing to Have Written Health and Safety Programs

OSHA has cited Wrayco Industries Inc., in Stow, Ohio with 14 serious safety and health violations. OSHA initiated an inspection on January 19 in response to a complaint alleging numerous safety violations. Proposed fines total $51,300.

Eleven safety violations include failing to develop machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures to control hazardous energy, train employees to use portable fire extinguishers, adequately guard equipment, use electrical equipment according to labels and listings, and install stair railings. Additionally, three serious health violations involve failing to implement a hearing conservation program, a written respiratory protection program, and a written hazard communication program.

The Ohio-based structural steel manufacturer of fuel and hydraulic tanks previously was inspected in 2001 and 2010.

AA Foundries Cited for Exposing Employees to Excessive Noise, Lead, and Copper

OSHA has cited AA Foundries Inc., with one willful and 20 serious violations for exposing employees to excessive noise levels, lead, and copper at the company’s work site in San Antonio, Texas. Proposed penalties total $107,600.

An investigation that began on October 24, 2011, as part of OSHA’s Primary Metals National Emphasis Program found that employees were exposed to noise levels surpassing 85 decibels, as well as excessive airborne levels of lead and copper, while conducting operations such as pouring molds and grinding on metal cast. The willful violation is for failing to ensure that employees underwent required annual audiograms.

Serious violations include failing to implement effective lead compliance and air monitoring programs protecting employees from overexposure to lead and other heavy metals such as copper and cadmium, ensure medical surveillance included blood lead testing and monitoring, and provide annual training on hazards of working with lead. Additionally, the employer failed to ensure that employees were protected by effective hearing conservation and respiratory protection programs, respectively.

The citations can be viewed

Forever 21 Cited for Blocked Exits and Improper Storage at Mall Store

OSHA has cited retail clothing chain Forever 21 Inc., with two repeat and five serious safety violations at its store in the Bridgewater Mall in Bridgewater, New Jersey. OSHA opened an inspection in November 2011 upon receiving a complaint alleging blocked exit routes and improper storage of merchandise. Proposed penalties total $69,000.

The repeat violations, with $50,000 in penalties, are failing to provide adequate workspace around electrical equipment and maintain an exit route free of obstructions. The same violations were cited in January 2010 at a Loan Tree, Colorado, store.

The serious violations, carrying $19,000 in penalties, include failing to ensure workers had full access to exits, keep storage areas free from tripping and fire hazards, ensure that a fire extinguisher was not blocked, provide employees with training on the use of fire extinguishers, and properly store materials.

Los Angeles-based Forever 21 Inc., employs 31 workers at the Bridgewater Mall store.

Midwest Biofuel Fined Following Complaint Inspection

OSHA has cited Midwest Biofuel LLC, with 15 safety and health violations, including a repeat violation for failing to provide an eye wash station. A complaint prompted an October 26 inspection at the organic chemical manufacturer’s facility in Clinton, Wisconsin. Proposed fines total $46,200.

OSHA issues repeat violations if an employer previously was cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule, or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states with the last five years. A similar violation involving failure to provide an eye was station was cited in 2007, among a total of 18 violations.

The company has been cited with 12 serious violations for failing to use proper electrical equipment in the control room; correct deficiencies of its hazard analysis and operating procedures; investigate chemical releases; train workers engaged in chemical hazard clean-up operations; provide material safety data sheets for process chemicals; develop, implement, and train workers on the permit required confined space program; evaluate fork lift operators; develop and implement a respiratory protection program, including fit testing; and provide medical evaluations for workers required to wear respirators.

Two other-than-serious violations have been cited for failing to record injuries and illnesses on the OSHA 300 log and post floor loading limits on a mezzanine used for storage.

Oil and Gas Services Company Cited Following Explosion that Injured Three Workers

OSHA has cited High Roller Wells Pearsall SWD No. 1 Ltd., for ten serious safety violations following an explosion and fire that injured three workers at the company’s Pearsall, Texas, work site.

The company disposes of hydraulic fracturing fluid and employs about 34 workers at the site. At the time of the incident, employees were injecting wastewater underground that was left over from hydraulic fracturing and drilling operations.

The violations include failing to ensure that workers are provided with fall protection while working on the tops of tanks, ensure that equipment and electrical wiring are rated for the environment in which they are being used, take necessary precautions to prevent possible ignition sources such as sparks or static electricity, conduct a workplace hazard assessment to determine the appropriate personal protective equipment needed, ensure that there is an emergency action plan in place, and provide an eyewash station for employees working around acids.

Proposed penalties total $46,200 following an inspection by OSHA’s San Antonio Area Office that was opened on January 20.

American Foods Group Fined $47,000 for Inspection, Training, and Security Violations

OSHA has cited American Foods Group LLC, with seven safety violations—including one repeat—at the company’s Sharonville, Ohio, meat processing facility following a February 23 inspection conducted under OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Amputations. Proposed penalties total $47,000.

The repeat violation is failing to conduct periodic and regular inspections of lockout procedures for the energy sources of equipment. Similar violations were cited at the company’s Green Bay, Wisconsin, facility in 2009.

Six serious violations involve failing to train employees who service equipment so that they are authorized to implement the energy control program, train employees on how to troubleshoot electrical equipment using safe work practices, train employees on the operation of powered industrial trucks, affix locks to machines’ energy isolation devices prior to allowing employees to perform maintenance and servicing operations, and provide locks to production employees who service equipment.

One other-than-serious violation is failing to develop and implement energy control procedures for newly installed equipment that uses the same energy sources as other machines within the facility.

American Foods Group, headquartered in Green Bay, Wisconsin, operates additional food processing facilities in Long Prairie and St. Paul, Minnesota; Yankton, South Dakota; and Gibbon and Omaha, Nebraska. OSHA previously conducted seven corporatewide inspections of the company, resulting in citations for violations related to lockout/tagout, powered industrial trucks, and personal protective equipment standards.

Duraframe Dipnet Fined $71,400 for Combustible Materials, Training

OSHA has cited Duraframe Dipnet with 20 safety violations—including three repeat—at the net manufacturer’s Viola, Wisconsin, facility. Proposed penalties total $71,400 following OSHA’s inspection, which was initiated November 28 based on a complaint.

The repeat violations include allowing the accumulation of combustible material in the paint spray area, lacking a tongue guard on the grinding wheel, and not guarding a belt on a lathe. Similar violations were cited in 2009.

Sixteen serious violations involve failing to maintain sanitary conditions in walkways, guard machinery, and provide hazard communication training. The violations also include various electrical and respiratory hazards, including the lack of a written respiratory protection program.

One other-than-serious safety violation is failing to mark exits.

The Viola-based company has been inspected by OSHA three other times, all in 2009, resulting in citations for five violations.

Spurgeon Vineyards and Winery Cited for Lack of Guarding and Training

OSHA has cited Spurgeon Vineyards and Winery LLC, in Highland, Wisconsin, with 12 safety and health—including nine repeat—violations for failing to provide fall protection and a hazard communication program. The citations are the result of a follow-up investigation conducted in January. Proposed penalties total $71,280.

Repeat safety violations involve failing to protect workers from fall hazards greater than four feet on wine tanks and catwalks, implement and train workers on a lockout/tagout program to control the release of hazardous energy, possess proper guarding and interlocks on a wine bottling machine, provide forklift training, and allowing workers to use damaged electrical cords.

Additionally, the company has been cited with repeat health violations for failing to implement a personal protective equipment hazard assessment, provide a hazard communication program and training, and provide material safety data sheets for chemicals used in the workplace. Similar violations were cited in July 2011.

Three serious safety and health violations cited include the operation of forklifts under lights without proper head room, lack of eye protection, and failing to evaluate the risk of ozone exposure.

OSHA Settles Whistleblower Case Against New Orleans-Based Riverboat Company

OSHA has entered into a settlement agreement with St. James Stevedoring Partners LLC, New Orleans, Louisiana, to resolve findings by OSHA that the company illegally terminated an employee for safety complaints, in violation of the Seaman’s Protection Act.

An OSHA whistleblower investigator found that St. James Stevedoring terminated the employment of a riverboat barge captain after he complained to the US Coast Guard about an inoperable starboard vessel engine. In accordance with applicable regulations, riverboat captains are required to report lost engines to the Coast Guard, and failure to do so can jeopardize a pilot’s license. Following the incident, the company suspended the captain and stated that he was not permitted to report anomalies to the Coast Guard without the company’s permission. The employee was put on probation pending a decision regarding termination. When the employee encountered an identical second incident, he again advised the company and contacted the Coast Guard. The company then terminated the employee, alleging poor performance. OSHA found that the company’s actions constituted a violation of the Seaman’s Protection Act, which protects a seaman who makes complaints to the Coast Guard.

The parties resolved their difference through a settlement agreement under which St. James Stevedoring Partners will pay a total of $245,000, including $23,451 in back pay, $70,352 in front pay, $133,106 in compensatory damages, and $18,091 in attorney’s fees, representing the most significant financial settlement under the Seaman’s Protection Act since OSHA assumed jurisdiction of the whistleblower provisions of that law in October 2010. Additionally, the company will purge any personnel records related to its alleged justifications for the captain’s termination and provide a neutral job reference to any prospective employers. The company also agreed to post a notice informing all employees of their right not to be retaliated against for raising maritime safety concerns.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Seaman’s Protection Act and 20 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws. Under the various whistleblower provisions enacted by Congress, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or the government.

Any employee who believes that he or she has been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program. Detailed information on employer whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available online at

Big D Brake and Clutch Cited for Multiple Possible Amputation Hazards

OSHA has cited Big D Brake and Clutch Inc., in Fort Worth, Texas, for 17 serious safety violations. Proposed penalties total $46,200.

OSHA’s Fort Worth Area Office began an inspection on January 9 at the company’s facility on Martin Luther King Freeway as part of the agency’s National Emphasis Program on Amputations. The investigation found that the company exposed workers to possible amputation hazards by failing to provide required machine guarding, among other hazards.

The violations include failing to ensure that exit doors were unlocked, keep exit areas free from obstruction, properly store compressed gas cylinders, provide required machine guarding, ensure that forklifts were properly serviced and maintained, provide forklift operator training, repair electrical wiring deficiencies, and ensure that floor surfaces were kept in a dry condition to prevent slips and falls.

Big D Brake and Clutch rebuilds and services transmission and clutch systems, and employs about 19 workers.

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