OSHA Cites Machine Shop for Failing to Correct Previously Cited Hazards
OSHA has cited Simtek Inc., for alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards as well as failing to correct eight hazardous conditions cited during a 2011 OSHA inspection that was prompted by a worker injury. The Amityville, New York, metal fabrication shop faces a total of $138,765 in proposed fines based on the latest inspection for new, recurring, and uncorrected hazards.
OSHA originally cited Simtek in June 2011 for 20 violations of workplace safety standards, including missing or incomplete energy control procedures and various electrical hazards. The proposed penalties from that inspection total $60,600.
The agency initiated a follow-up inspection in January of this year to verify whether the cited hazards had been abated. Inspectors found that Simtek still had not developed and put into use energy control procedures to lock out machines’ power sources to prevent them from starting up during maintenance, nor had the company provided training and tools to workers who perform the maintenance. It also had failed to correct several electrical hazards such as misused electrical equipment, unused electrical openings, uncovered electrical cabinets, and electrical cords that were spliced and lacked strain relief.
These uncorrected hazards have resulted in notices issued for failing to abate eight violations. The notices carry $109,725 in fines. A failure-to-abate violation is one committed when an employer fails to fix or address previously cited hazardous conditions, practices, or noncompliant equipment.
Additionally, citations with $26,400 in fines have been issued for four repeat violations involving hazards similar to those cited during the previous inspection. These include a locked exit door, misused electrical equipment, and unprotected power cords. 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.
Finally, a citation with a $2,640 fine has been issued for one serious violation involving circuit breakers blocked by a gas tank and a welding machine. 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.
Due to the failure-to-abate and repeat violations as well as the nature of the hazards, OSHA has placed Simtek in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing certain willful, repeat, or failure-to-abate violations.
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 OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS) offered on the following dates:
- 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, attend How to Author GHS Safety Data Sheets webcast on October 3, 2012.
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 October 4, 2012.
Raleigh RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Raleigh, North Carolina, from July 16–18 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.
Macon RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Macon, Georgia, from July 24–26 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.
Dallas RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management in Texas and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Dallas, Texas, from August 7–9 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.
Hot Tips for a Cool Summer
Here’s a list of hot tips that can help save money, cut energy costs, and protect public health during the summer months, including:
For more tips, see: Hot tips for a cool summer.
OSHA Proposes $124,000 in Fines to Earth Friendly Products
OSHA has cited Earth Friendly Products for 23 serious safety and health violations at its Norwood facility. OSHA initiated an inspection in response to a complaint and found workers being exposed to machine guarding, confined space, and flammable liquid storage and handling hazards, among other violations. Proposed penalties total $124,000.
The violations reflect hazards related to confined space entry, deficient lockout/tagout procedures to prevent machinery from accidentally starting up, failing to train powered industrial trucks operators and make sure that truck modifications are performed with the manufacturer’s prior written approval, insufficient machine guarding equipment, junction boxes connected with flexible cords instead of being mounted on the wall, unlabeled breakers on the panel, unsafe flammable liquid storage and handling, personal protective equipment and respirator deficiencies, a lack of eye wash stations, and a lack of fire extinguisher training and hazard communications.
The company manufactures cleaning products and employs 38 workers.
OSHA Cites Two Florida Companies for Trenching Hazards Following Worker Injury
OSHA has cited two Florida companies, Major Plumbing LLC, and MAPP Construction LLC, for trenching hazards. OSHA opened an inspection after receiving a complaint in January that an excavation sidewall had collapsed and buried a worker, who sustained a broken hip and was hospitalized. The incident occurred while workers were installing two grease traps for a newly constructed Wal-Mart store in Bradenton.
Major Plumbing has been cited with one willful violation for failing to remove workers from an unprotected 12-foot-deep excavation when it has been identified as unsafe. The citation carries a $56,000 penalty. Additionally, the company has been cited with one serious violation for failing to provide excavation safety training to employees who are required to work in excavations greater than 5 feet deep. That citation carries a $5,600 penalty.
As the controlling employer at the work site, MAPP Construction was cited for one willful violation involving failing to ensure that cave-in protection was provided. The citation carries a $63,000 penalty.
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. 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.
Major Plumbing LLC, provides plumbing installation and servicing. Its offices are located in Spring Hill and Clearwater. MAPP Construction is a general contractor engaged in large construction projects for industrial and commercial buildings. The company is based out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and has a regional office in Orlando.
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available on OSHA’s website at
Proposed penalties to both companies total $124,600.
Cal/OSHA Fines EDCO Waste and Recycling for Multiple Safety Violations Following Worker Injury
The California Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR) Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) Friday issued seven citations totaling $111,935 in penalties to Southern California-based EDCO Waste and Recycling Services Inc., a collection and recycling company with a history of safety violations and worker injury.
Cal/OSHA’s citations include a Serious and Willful violation and Serious Accident-Related violations that resulted in a severe injury to a worker at EDCO. Cal/OSHA had previously cited this company for the same problems that led to this recent worker injury.
These new citations resulted from an accident and serious worker injury on December 31, 2011 while workers were connecting a hydraulic cylinder to the packer device in a garbage truck. The hydraulic system was activated to extend the cylinder outward to be connected to the packer, which compacts the trash that has been dumped into the truck. The injured worker was standing on the packer unit inside the truck body when the cylinder struck it, causing him to fall into an area between the packer and the truck body wall where he sustained crushing injuries.
Cal/OSHA had previously conducted an inspection in October 2011 at the Lemon Grove facility following a refuse truck accident resulting in severe injuries to a mechanic. Cal/OSHA found that EDCO had not ensured that control levers were blocked as required, resulting in severe injuries to a mechanic. EDCO appealed Cal/OSHA’s findings and citations. Following the December accident, Cal/OSHA successfully petitioned the Appeals Board to raise a citation category from Serious Accident Related to Willful. In 2003, EDCO also received a serious citation for not having employees use lockable controls on a compacter and failing to have adequate written safety procedures.
Cal/OSHA issued serious accident- related citations to EDCO for their failure to guard the pinch point in the garbage truck, failure to have a hazardous energy control plan, and failure to implement procedures to control or lock movement of the equipment while workers are performing maintenance or repairs. Two general citations and one regulatory citation were also issued for not establishing an injury illness prevention program and a heat illness prevention program, and for not developing or training to written operating rules for mobile collection/compactions equipment.
A general violation is one in which an accident or illness may result but would probably not cause death or serious harm.
EDCO Waste and Recycling Services Inc., has satellite facilities serving residential and commercial customers in Southern California. The corporate headquarters are in Lemon Grove.
OSHA Settles Whistleblower Case Against Real Estate Management Company
The Department of Labor has entered into an agreement with CMM Realty Inc., a South Carolina-based real estate management company headquartered in Columbia, and owner C. Michael Munson, resolving a lawsuit filed by the department alleging the illegal termination of a maintenance employee who raised workplace and environmental concerns regarding asbestos at a work site.
A consent judgment filed provides for the payment of $45,000 to the employee as well as injunctive relief that permanently prohibits the defendants from violating the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). The judgment also requires the defendants to display posters along with whistleblower protection fact sheets, in English and Spanish, from OSHA at the company’s facilities; expunge all disciplinary actions in the employee’s official employment record; and provide any prospective employers with a neutral reference for this worker.
The employee, who worked at CMM Realty’s Briargate Condominiums in Columbia, had reported asbestos exposures on May 13, 2009, to both the South Carolina OSHA Program and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Conservation (DHEC). On that same day the employee was informed that his services were no longer needed, and five days later, was officially notified of his termination. Both state agencies conducted inspections and issued citations against CMM Realty for violating asbestos control standards.
The employee then filed a complaint with federal OSHA under Section 11(c) of the OSH Act as well as the Clean Air Act (CAA) (42 US Code 7622). OSHA conducted an investigation, found the company had violated the CAA’s whistleblower provisions, and ordered that the employee be reinstated and compensated. The company appealed that order to the Labor Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges. In 2011, the department sued the company in federal court for violating Section 11(c) of the OSH Act—which forbids companies from discriminating against an employee for filing a complaint with OSHA—and requested to have the CAA case stayed pending the outcome of the Section 11(c) litigation. This consent judgment settles both departmental claims in this matter.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions the OSH Act, as well as 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 an employer or to the government. Employees who believe that they have 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.
OSHA Settles Whistleblower Complaint Against Trucking Company
The Department of Labor has entered into a settlement agreement with Knoxville, Tennessee-based Heartland Transportation Inc., a contract mail carrier for the US Postal Service, to resolve findings by the department’s OSHA alleging that an employee was terminated for complaining about defective vehicles, in violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.
In August 2009, the employee was assigned to deliver a truckload of US mail to a customer in Pontiac, Michigan, when he found that his assigned trailer had a nonworking light. After he complained, the light was repaired and the delivery made. The employee had complained about such mechanical failures on a number of previous occasions, but the problems recurred. Accordingly, he informed his employer that he would not drive trucks with such failures in the future. Upon returning to the company’s facility from Michigan, the driver found that his name had been removed from the driving schedule. He inquired about this development and was informed during a meeting to discuss the issue that his employment had been terminated. The employee then submitted a whistleblower complaint to OSHA, which conducted an investigation.
According to the settlement agreement, the company will pay the complainant $31,200, including $9,895 in back wages. Additionally, the company agreed to purge any personnel records regarding the involuntary discharge of the employee and provide a neutral reference to any prospective employers. The company also agreed to post a notice informing all employees of their right to raise safety concerns or conduct any other protected activity under the STAA without suffering retaliation.
OSHA Needs You on its Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health
OSHA announced that nominations are being accepted for six new members to serve on the 16-member Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (FACOSH).
FACOSH advises the Secretary of Labor on matters relating to the occupational safety and health of federal employees. This includes providing assistance to the Secretary and OSHA in an effort to reduce and keep to a minimum the number and severity of injuries and illnesses in the federal workforce. FACOSH also encourages each federal executive branch department and agency to establish and maintain effective occupational safety and health programs.
Nominations are being accepted for three federal agency management representatives and three labor organization representatives. Members will serve terms not to exceed three years.
Nominations may be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Submissions may also be sent by mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for details. Nominations must be submitted by September 4, 2012.
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