Proposed Rule Would Require Replacements for Chemicals of Concern
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) took another step toward fulfilling Governor Brown’s commitment to environmental protection and expanded business opportunities by releasing the proposed Safer Consumer Products Regulation. The proposal requires manufacturers to seek alternative ingredients in widely used products. See this link for a summary of the proposed regulation.
“People don’t choose to buy items that could harm their family or friends,” said Debbie Raphael, Director of DTSC. “Even though a significant number of manufacturers are already finding fewer toxic ingredients to use in their products, safer options for consumers are often still limited.” Using a world-wide recognized list of “chemicals of concern” the regulation would create a process by which manufacturers who are using one of those listed chemicals must identify and examine the viability of safer ingredients. If an alternative is not feasible, DTSC will identify steps the manufacturer must take to ensure the product is safely used, disposed of, or phased out. The regulation also provides consumers with enhanced information about product ingredients. “We see this as a two-for-one initiative,” said Raphael. “Public health and the environment benefits by lessening our use of toxic chemicals, and California companies get a significant boost into markets that are rapidly expanding. This regulation will stimulate growth in those markets and move us toward a higher level of environmental protection.”
DTSC spent several years working with a diverse group of stakeholders to craft the proposed regulation. “The release of our proposed Safer Consumer Products Regulation begins a 45-day comment period, and we welcome more input that will ultimately make this regulation more meaningful and practical,” said Raphael.
In DTSC’s recent investigations of nail polish and jewelry, it discovered that highly toxic ingredients still end up in products even when they are advertised as toxic free. The Safer Consumer Products Regulation recognizes that consumers around the world are demanding safer products, and that California’s innovative product designers can provide the solution. The regulation levels the playing field for those who want to do the right thing. While stakeholders have not had an opportunity to review the proposed regulation prior to today, many are expressing early support for the goal of the Safer Consumer Products Regulation. “This is a great example of how policymakers, businesses, government agencies, science, academia, and consumer advocates can work collaboratively to create an orderly transition to safer materials and products which is a win for business, consumers, communities and future generations,” said Roger McFadden, Vice President and Senior Scientist for Staples. “Innovation, change and investment have allowed my company to thrive,” said Aaron Leventhal, CEO of Hero Arts, a leading designer and manufacturer of product for the papercraft market, with locations in Oakland and Richmond. “This regulation is a clear way government can act to help business. It clarifies an otherwise turbulent landscape and creates necessary rules businesses can rely on, which reduces market risk and thereby stimulates investment, job creation and innovation.”
“We care about the health of our patients and our communities,” said Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser Permanente’s Vice President, Employee Safety, Health and Wellness and Environmental Stewardship Officer. “Our experience has been that environmental sustainability is good for business, and we see DTSC’s regulations as moving in the right direction, in promoting a healthy economy, healthy environment and healthy people.”
“For too long, toxic chemicals have been used in everyday consumer products with no accountability for their hazards to public and environmental health,” said Gretchen Lee Salter of Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (CHANGE) and the Breast Cancer Fund. “This is the kind of groundbreaking program that communities have been demanding for decades, one that mandates that safer alternatives be identified to prevent harmful exposures to consumers, workers, and communities. This regulation is an important step towards a greener economy, healthier people, and a less toxic environment in California, and we will be carefully following its development to ensure that it reaches its potential.”
DTSC worked with its Green Ribbon Science Panel, business groups, health care advocates, and environmentalists to develop the concepts that were eventually incorporated into the proposal. Similarly, thousands of public comments were received and considered in developing this landmark regulation.
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:
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.
Greensboro RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Greensboro, North Carolina, from August 7–9 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.
Birmingham RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Birmingham, Alabama, from August 14–16 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.
Focus on Personal Safety Rather than Process Safety Contributed to Gulf Disaster
In preliminary findings released at a public hearing in Houston, US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) investigators examining the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf report that companies like Transocean and BP, trade associations, and US regulators largely judged the safety of offshore facilities by focusing on personal injury and fatality data (such as dropped objects and slips, trips, and falls), that overshadowed the use of leading indicators more focused on managing the potential for catastrophic accidents.
Expanded use of process safety indicators was first recommended by the CSB in its 2007 report on the March 2005 BP Texas City refinery disaster. In the offshore arena, potential indicators—such as timely checks on safety critical equipment and response to well control events—would provide an assessment of the health of their safety management systems. These type of indicators may be precursors to the kind of tragedy that took eleven lives on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig following the Macondo well blowout on April 20, 2010.
The preliminary findings were presented during the second day of a two-day hearing called by the CSB to examine the need for the US offshore drilling and production industry—and the agencies that regulate it—to develop process safety indicators that will result in safety improvements and reduce the likelihood of major accidents.
CSB Chairperson Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “A number of past CSB investigations have found companies focusing on personal injury rates while virtually overlooking looming process safety issues—like the effectiveness of barriers against hazardous releases, automatic shutoff system failures, activation of pressure relief devices, and loss of containment of liquids and gases. Furthermore, we have found failures by companies to implement their own recommendations from previous accidents involving, for example, leaks of flammable materials.”
In its investigation of the Macondo disaster, the CSB found that BP and its contracted drilling rig operator, Transocean, were focused on personal safety issues such as worker injury rates, rather than broader safety issues involving the process of drilling for oil using a complex rig.
Noting the lack of sustained focus on process safety, CSB Investigator Cheryl MacKenzie described an “eerie resemblance” between the 2005 explosion at the BP Texas City refinery and the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon.
At the BP Texas City refinery on March 23, 2005, contract workers had just returned to temporary trailers at the plant after attending a celebratory lunch commending an excellent personal injury accident record. Shortly after lunch, an explosion occurred during process startup, killing 15 and injuring 180 others. At Macondo, BP and Transocean officials were in the process of lauding operators and workers for a low rate of personal injuries on the very day of that tragedy. Company VIP’s had flown to the rig in part to commend the workforce for zero lost-time incidents.
Investigator MacKenzie said, “The emphasis on personal injury and lost work-time data obscures the bigger picture: that companies need to develop indicators that give them realistic information about their potential for catastrophic accidents. How safety is measured and managed is at the very core of accident prevention. If companies are not measuring safety performance effectively and using those data to continuously improve, they will likely be left in the dark about their safety risks.”
At the public hearing the CSB investigation team presented eight conclusions from the investigation to date:
- Transocean and BP had multiple safety management system deficiencies that contributed to the Macondo incident.
- Before the Macondo blowout, the safety approaches and metrics used by the two companies and US trade associations did not adequately focus on major accident hazards. Recently BP officials informed CSB investigators that they are working to develop a more comprehensive offshore indicators program using leading and lagging metrics to help drive performance improvements.
- Systems used for measuring safety effectiveness in the offshore industry focused on personal safety and infrequent lagging indicators.
- The US offshore regulator, the Department of the Interior, can achieve a greater impact on major accident prevention through the development of a leading and lagging process safety indicator program.
- Despite some significant progress with process safety indicator implementation in the downstream oil industry, in the offshore sector BP, Transocean, industry associations, and the regulator had not effectively learned critical lessons of Texas City and other serious process incidents at the time of the Macondo blowout.
- Companies and trade associations operating in other regulatory regimes outside the US have developed effective indicator programs, recognizing the value of leading indicators, and using those indicators to drive continuous improvement.
- Trade associations and many of the same companies that operate in the US are partnering with the regulators in other countries in advancing safety indicators programs.
- In the aftermath of the Macondo blowout, companies and trade associations in the US are initiating efforts to advance the development of offshore major accident indicators.
The CSB investigative team further presented a number of preliminary findings of management system deficiencies underlying the Macondo blowout and explosion. The existence of these deficiencies—at the same time that the relevant companies and the regulator focused on personal safety metrics—underscore the need for more effective process safety indicators, investigators said. These system deficiencies included:
- BP and Transocean hazard assessment systems were inadequate. For example, the bridging document that sought to harmonize safety controls between BP and Transocean was a minimal document that focused only on six personal safety issues such as minimum heights for employing fall protection equipment. The document did not address major accident hazards like the potential for loss of well control.
- Hazard assessments of major accident risks on the Deepwater Horizon relied heavily on prompt, correct manual intervention by the rig crew to prevent a catastrophe, for example to divert the flow of flammable hydrocarbons away from the rig during a blowout. Depending on a human reaction alone during an emergency situation—with many distractions—is not a reliable safety layer. A comprehensive hazard assessment should have identified this risk.
- There were no written procedures for how to conduct the key “negative pressure test” which was conducted on the day of the incident and was necessary to confirm the integrity of the cement seal on the well. There were also no written criteria or safe limits defined for determining if the test was a success.
- Systems for managing the safety of process changes were inadequate. The plan to complete and “temporarily abandon” the Macondo drilling operation was changed five times during the week before the disaster, but there is no available documentation that management of change procedures or formal hazard assessments were conducted.
- Systems for investigating safety incidents and implementing and disseminating the findings were inadequate. Prior to the Macondo disaster in December 2009, Transocean operated the Sedco 711 drilling rig in the North Sea (BP was not involved). In an incident similar to Macondo, the Transocean crew had a delayed response to indications that hydrocarbons were flowing into the well. Mud and hydrocarbons eventually reached the rig floor at the sea surface, though they did not ignite in this case and the blowout preventer sealed the well. Transocean prepared an “Operations Advisory” discussing the lessons from the Sedco 711 incident, but it was not effectively communicated to employees beyond the North Sea.
- On the Deepwater Horizon, a little over a month before the Macondo blowout, there was a delay by operators in responding to a “well kick”—an unanticipated, hazardous influx of hydrocarbons into the wellbore that can precede a blowout. BP investigated the incident but after informal verbal discussions with Transocean, evidence indicates that Transocean did not implement changes based on the findings.
A robust system of process safety indicators might have revealed many of these management system deficiencies before the disaster occurred, CSB investigators said. CSB Team Lead Cheryl MacKenzie noted that Transocean primarily measured safety performance through two metrics: total recordable injuries and the “Total Potential Severity Rate.” Although Transocean gave itself a zero score for total recordable injuries following the tragedy, its scoring on the potential severity rate enabled top-level management at Transocean to receive financial bonuses for safety performance. The focus on personal safety was reflected in a 2004 Transocean major accident hazard risk assessment of the Deepwater Horizon. The assessment made 27 recommendations for safety improvements—but almost all addressed personal safety issues and no recommendations addressed major accident risks such as gas entering the riser or well blowouts.
The CSB investigation is also looking at the role US regulators and regulations played in the time preceding to the accident. The CSB found that BP was a finalist for a safety award from the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the former Department of the Interior agency overseeing offshore oil exploration and production, and that a total of 15 safety awards had been given to BP and Transocean over a period of years. The criteria used to determine the award candidates, CSB investigators said, focused on personal safety metrics and did not give an accurate measure of safety management system performance to control major accident hazards.
Following the Macondo blowout, a reorganization within the Interior Department created the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Preliminary CSB findings indicate that some reporting requirements have become mandatory, but the focus remains on reporting major accident events such as fires rather than predictive, leading indicators.
The onshore refining industry, responding to a previous CSB recommendation to the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the United Steelworkers Union, is moving toward the development of key safety performance indicators, the CSB noted.
CSB Chairman Moure-Eraso said, “API has taken a positive step forward in establishing ‘Recommend Practice 754’ on safety performance indicators but I believe that input from all stakeholders is necessary to develop a more robust Recommended Practice. We would like to see API move even further and focus more on leading indicators to proactively measure safety system performance before accidents occur. I believe the offshore drilling industry could benefit from such a program as well. Meantime, it is encouraging to see the industry move in this important direction, which will help prevent accidents and save lives.”
OSHA Seeks Nominations for National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health
OSHA has announced that nominations are being accepted for four members to serve on the 12-member National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH).
NACOSH was established under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to advise the Secretaries of Labor and Health and Human Services on matters relating to the administration of the Act.
Nominations will be accepted for one representative from each of the following categories: public; management; occupational safety; and occupational health. Members will serve a two-year term.
Nominations may be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Submissions may also be sent by mail or facsimile. If submitting nominations by mail, hand delivery, or messenger service, send three copies to the OSHA Docket Office, Room N-2625, US Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20210; telephone 202-693-2350. Nominations must be submitted by September 10, 2012.
Bridgford Food Processing Cited After Amputation Incident at Meat Processing Facility
OSHA has cited Anaheim, California-based Bridgford Food Processing Corp., with four safety—including willful and repeat—violations at the company’s Chicago, Illinois, meat processing facility after a worker suffered amputations of two fingers on February 7 while operating a vacuum packaging machine. A second worker had been injured operating the same machine on January 25, and suffered deep lacerations and tendon damage on four fingers. Proposed fines total $184,000 following an inspection that was opened following the incidents.
OSHA found that workers used magnets and other tools to override guarding interlock systems on machines. One willful violation stems from not affixing lockout/tagout devices to all energy sources and preventing workers from coming into contact with machines’ points of operation. OSHA deemed this violation willful because, despite the company’s history of injuries caused by lockout failures, Bridgford had taken few precautionary measures to prevent similar incidents at the facility. 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.
Two repeat violations involve failing to develop and train employees in machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures. 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 by OSHA following a July 2010 inspection at the same facility.
Finally, one serious violation involves improperly guarding machines. 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.
Bridgford Food Processing Corp., a manufacturer of various processed and frozen foods, employs about 140 workers at its Chicago meat processing location and 535 companywide, with two other facilities in Dallas, Texas, and one in Statesville, North Carolina. This inspection is OSHA’s ninth of the Chicago facility since 2007.
Bridgford Food Processing was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program after being cited for willful and repeat safety violations based on the July 2010 inspection at the Chicago plant. Those violations involved exposing workers to energized equipment by failing to implement and provide training on lockout/tagout procedures. OSHA has conducted follow-up inspections at both the Chicago and Dallas facilities under the program, which mandates follow-up inspections of recalcitrant employers that have endangered workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.
Since the company was placed in the program, OSHA has cited additional violations at several facilities. Citations carrying $118,700 in penalties were issued in March 2012 for 22 safety and health violations at the Chicago facility, citations carrying $174,500 in penalties were issued in February 2012 for eight safety violations at a facility in Dallas, and citations carrying $422,600 in penalties were issued in October 2011 for 27 safety and health violations at another facility in Dallas. The company is contesting all of these citations.
Thomson Plastics Cited for Repeat and Serious Violations
OSHA has cited Thomson Plastics Inc., for 11 safety and health violations after a February 2012 follow-up inspection of the facility in Thomson, Georgia, revealed some of the same violations as OSHA’s original inspection found in February 2010. Proposed penalties total $162,800.
Three repeat safety and one repeat health violation similar to violations cited in 2010 involve failing to perform a periodic inspection of the lockout/tagout procedures for machines’ energy sources to prevent them from starting up unexpectedly, train employees in lockout/tagout procedures, develop a training program for workers exposed to noise at or above 85 decibels, and provide guardrails on all sides of platforms to prevent fall hazards. The citations carry proposed penalties of $137,500.
Additionally, one serious health and four serious safety violations involve failing to protect workers on scissor lifts from fall hazards, provide fixed stairs or a ladder to access the hopper platform, properly store acetylene cylinders, provide annual training on fire extinguishers and hearing conservation, and establish baseline audiograms for workers exposed to noise. The citations carry $25,300 in proposed penalties.
Finally, one safety and one health violation involve deficiencies with electrical cords and the facility’s permit-required confined space program. 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. The citations do not carry monetary penalties.
Thomson Plastics produces industrial, recreational and consumer appliances, and lawn and garden products.
Schuld/Bushnell Cited with Repeat Safety Violations After Follow-Up Inspection at Tank Manufacturing Plant
OSHA has cited Bushnell Illinois Tank Co., which operates as Schuld/Bushnell in Valley, Nebraska, with eight safety and health violations based on a follow-up inspection for hazards associated with workers who enter and work in permit-required confined spaces. Proposed penalties total $116,270.
Bushnell Illinois Tank Co., is located in Bushnell, Illinois, and manufactures tanks for agriculture and commercial applications such as grain and feed storage.
OSHA initiated the follow-up inspection at Schuld/Bushnell in January 2012 to determine if hazardous conditions continued to exist after a January 2011 inspection resulted in citations of OSHA’s permit-required confined space standard. The standard establishes procedures to protect workers who must enter, work in, or exit spaces with configurations that hinder their activities. In addition, the configurations of such spaces may increase workers’ exposure to hazards such as entrapment, engulfment and/or hazardous atmospheric conditions, which can lead to serious physical injury, illness, or death.
A willful violation has been cited for the presence of these hazards without an employer permit-required confined space program. Workers entered tanks to weld the bottom to the cylinder, attach ladders and aeration fans, and apply sealant in the finishing area.
Four repeat violations involve failing to provide a permit-required confined space hazard evaluation prior to employee entry, provide appropriate equipment for making permit-required confined space entries, test and monitor permit-required confined space conditions prior to entry, and train workers on entering permit-required confined spaces. These violations previously were cited during the 2011 inspection.
Two serious violations relate to a lack of worker training to establish proficiency in permit-required confined space procedures and a lack of determination regarding exposure of employees to the chemical hexavalent chromium.
One other-than-serious violation addresses hazards associated with failing to implement a respirator program relative to proper storage of respirators.
OSHA Cites Horizontal Well Drillers for Safety Hazards
OSHA has cited Horizontal Well Drillers with three repeat and one serious safety violation for exposing workers to hazards at a drilling site in Jacksboro, Texas. OSHA’s Fort Worth Area Office opened an inspection on May 10 in response to a complaint alleging unsafe working conditions. Proposed penalties total $71,500.
The repeat violations include failing to provide an auxiliary escape line, ensure all guardrails are installed to prevent falls of more than four feet, and ensure the usage of personal protective equipment such as flame-resistant clothing in the event of a flash fire.
The serious violation involves a failure to ground the shale shaker trailer.
Horizontal Well Drillers, headquartered in Purcell, Oklahoma, is an oil and gas drilling company that employs about 450 workers.
Continental Carbonic Products Cited for 17 Health and Safety Violations at Dry Ice Plant
OSHA has cited dry ice manufacturer and distributor Continental Carbonic Products Inc., for 17 serious health and safety violations at the company’s Greenville, Ohio, facility. Upon receiving a complaint alleging hazards, OSHA initiated safety and health inspections in March and subsequently expanded the health inspection under the agency’s National Emphasis Program for Process Safety Management. Proposed fines total $60,435.
Ten serious health violations involve failing to establish an adequate emergency action plan, provide an emergency shower, follow up on process hazard analysis recommendations, provide adequate emergency shutdown procedures, provide sufficient training on standard operating and mechanical integrity procedures, adequately manage change procedures, and properly handle small chemical releases.
Seven serious safety violations involve inadequate energy control procedures, a lack of proper forklift nameplates, improperly operating a forklift by not lowering employees in a workbasket to the floor when the operator leaves the operator’s seat, inadequate employee training on safe electrical work practices, and a lack of required personal protective gear for employees who perform work involving energized electrical equipment.
Continental Carbonic Products Inc., manufactures and delivers dry ice throughout the eastern US and Ontario, Canada. Headquartered in Decatur, Illinois, the company has 38 manufacturing and distribution facilities. This inspection was OSHA’s first at the Greenville facility. The company has been inspected by OSHA 14 times nationwide.
Ditchdiggers Cited for Exposing Workers to Trenching Hazards
OSHA has cited Ditchdiggers of Fort Pierce, Florida, for two trenching violations while workers were installing a new section of a sewer drain in White City, Florida. An inspection was initiated as part of OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. Proposed penalties total $51,590.
One willful violation is failing to have provided workers with protection against cave-in hazards while they were working in a trench more than five feet deep.
One serious violation is failing to have provided a competent person on-site to monitor deteriorating trench conditions.
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations five feet or deeper be protected against collapse.
Pyongsan America Cited for Repeat and Serious Workplace Safety Hazards
OSHA has cited Pyongsan America Inc., with six safety violations at its Auburn, Alabama, manufacturing facility. OSHA’s inspection, initiated in March upon receipt of a complaint alleging hazards, 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 $43,560.
Two repeat violations involve failing to secure compressed gas cylinders and guard the points of operation on the crimper and bending machines. The citations carry $23,760 in penalties. Similar violations were cited in 2011.
Four serious violations involve failing to conduct periodic inspections of the energy control procedures, provide training for employees on the lockout/tagout of energy sources, secure racks that are used for storing materials and repair electrical deficiencies. The citations carry $19,800 in penalties.
Pyongsan America Inc., manufactures automotive parts for Hyundai Motor Co.
Union Pacific Railroad to Pay More Than $38,000 Following Whistleblower Investigation
OSHA has ordered Omaha, Nebraska-headquartered Union Pacific Railroad Co., to pay an employee $38,561.92 in damages, which includes $25,000 in punitive damages, after retaliating against the employee for reporting a work-related injury.
An investigation by OSHA upheld the employee’s allegation that the railroad issued a 10-day unpaid suspension in retaliation for reporting an injury that occurred on July 8, 2011, while he was working as a switchman in the railroad’s Topeka, Kansas, yard. The worker suffered the loss of two teeth and several facial lacerations when coupled cars came apart as they were being moved in the yard and struck him. The railroad issued the discipline even though the evidence showed that the employee was not at fault, and that employees involved in similar incidents—but who had not been injured—received lesser forms of discipline or were allowed to bypass the formal discipline process entirely.
The railroad carrier also has been ordered to remove references to discipline from the employee’s personnel record and to post employee whistleblower rights information throughout its Kansas City Service Unit.
C.J.’s Seafood Instructed to Pay Fines after Investigations
The Department of Labor has issued findings from investigations of C.J.’s Seafood Inc., in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. OSHA has cited C.J.’s Seafood with 11 serious and one other-than-serious safety violation for exposing workers to blocked exit, fire, electrical, and chemical hazards.
OSHA conducted an investigation of the company’s facility in Breaux Bridge, where employees peel and boil seafood. Some of the serious violations cited pertain to the building not being equipped with fire extinguishers, exit signs, or emergency eyewash stations. In addition, electrical breakers were not labeled, electrical outlets were not covered, an exit was blocked, and temporary wiring was being used instead of permanent wiring. Finally, the employer did not have a written hazard communications program and did not make material safety data sheets available to employees to inform them of hazards in the workplace. These citations carry proposed penalties of $32,200.
The other-than-serious violation involves failing to maintain the OSHA 300 log, in which employee injuries and illnesses must be recorded. This citation carries a monetary penalty of $2,100.
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