Builder Fined Nearly $900,000 for Fatal Fall Risks

May 02, 2016

As OSHA prepared for its annual National Safety Stand Down To Prevent Falls in Construction from May 2–6, agency officials in Philadelphia have only to look east to Cinnaminson, New Jersey, to find a serious reminder of why the event is so important—and necessary.

There, Berlin Builders, Inc., a framing subcontractor on many residential construction projects in southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and northern Delaware, has failed 21 of 27 federal safety inspections in 12 months by putting its employees at risk of potentially fatal fall hazards. The company faces proposed penalties totaling $789,536 for violations in 20 of those inspections. A more recent inspection added $106,470 in fines.

"Berlin Builders has an extensive OSHA history that reflects a callous disregard for its employees," said Nicholas DeJesse, director of the agency's Philadelphia Area Office. "A developer and contractor that hire this company are truly rolling the dice on worker safety. Amid the hazards we have cited, two Berlin Builders' employees suffered falls in 2015. This employer must make immediate changes before something worse happens."

In its latest inspection of a Berlin Builders site in October 2015 in Philadelphia, OSHA cited the company for one willful, two repeat, and two serious violations. Inspectors responded to an imminent danger report alleging workers were 30 feet or more off the ground at 1427 Kater St. with no fall protection as required. OSHA found the company was contracted to frame residential properties as high as four stories at the site.

Inspectors found workers at risk of fall hazards 38 feet above ground without proper fall protection, and issued a willful citation. OSHA also issued citations for the company's failure to:

  • Have a competent person conduct frequent and regular inspections of the site, materials, and equipment
  • Provide a training program for employees exposed to fall hazards
  • Ensure employees used eye protection while using pneumatic nail guns
  • Ensure employees operating rough terrain forklifts were trained and evaluated in the safe operation of the equipment

OSHA has designated May 2–6, as its third annual national Stand-Down event. Throughout the week, the agency encourages construction industry employers and workers to set time aside to review and discuss the serious dangers of falls and how to prevent them. Falls are the leading cause of workplace deaths in the construction industry.

Orlando RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Orlando, FL, on May 17–19 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Hilton Head RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Hilton Head, SC, on May 24–26 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Baltimore RCRA, DOT, and IATA Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Baltimore, MD, on June 7–9 and save $100. Ensure you have the training you need to ship dangerous goods by air at Transportation of Dangerous Goods: Compliance with IATA Regulations on June 10. To register for these courses click here or call 800-537-2372.

How to Implement 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, safety data sheet (formerly called “material safety data sheet” or MSDS), 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 safety data sheets.

Environmental Resource Center is offering live online 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. Bring your questions to the upcoming webcast on How to Implement OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS) on July 13.

Cellu Tissue-City Forest LLC Fined $119,000 After Worker Fatally Injured

A machine operator who suffered fatal injuries as he serviced a high-speed conveyor belt in a Ladysmith, Wisconsin, paper mill in October 2015 might still be alive if his employer had ensured that equipment was powered down and locked out before the 46-year-old man entered the hazardous area.

After its investigation into the October 27, 2015, incident, OSHA cited Cellu Tissue-City Forest, LLC, for one willful, one repeat, and two serious safety violations on April 21. Cellu operates the Clearwater Paper-Ladysmith mill.

In 2012, OSHA cited Cellu for inadequate machine safety procedures at the same facility.

"Workers at the Clearwater Paper mill were exposed to dangerous machine hazards on a daily basis because their employer failed to properly prevent contact with operating machinery," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire. "This man's death is tragic and was preventable. Despite incidents like this one, machine hazards continue to be one of the most frequently cited federal worker safety violations. It takes just minutes to stop and put safety first."

Investigators found employees at the mill routinely work beneath high-speed conveyor and sheet-fork sections of the wet-lap machine during production mode. Doing so exposes them to the risk of an operating machine pulling them in or a machine part striking them, causing severe or even fatal injuries.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $119,000.

Owned by Cellu Tissue-City Forest, LLC, the Clearwater Paper Corp., operates the Ladysmith mill. The mill employs about 81 workers and produces more than 40,000 tons of paper each year for use as paper towels, napkins, bath and facial tissue products. Based in Spokane, Washington, Clearwater is the country's largest provider of private label tissue to retail grocery chains and a manufacturer of bleached paperboard. The company has an administrative office in Alpharetta, Georgia, and operates manufacturing facilities in Clarkson, Washington; Columbia City, Oregon; Lewiston, Idaho; Las Vegas, Nevada; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Cypress Bend, Arkansas; Shelby, North Carolina; Elwood, Illinois; and Neenah, Wisconsin.

Jay Management Inc. Fined $14,000 After Lack of Employee Safety Precautions Lead to Fatal Robbery

OSHA issued one willful citation under the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause to Jay Management, Inc., on April 25, 2016. Proposed penalties total $14,000.

The agency opened an investigation after an assailant with a handgun shot a store associate during an attempted armed robbery in the evening hours of October 28, 2015. OSHA determined that the employer exposed the store associate to workplace hazards, resulting in the willful citation. The employee later died.

“In the past five years, 20 workplace violence incidents involving theft, armed robbery and fights occurred at this store. Jay Management was well aware of this history and, even after the death of its employee in October the employer did nothing to implement safety measures to protect employees. This disregard for employee safety is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Kris Hoffman, OSHA’s area director in Parsippany.

Exide Technologies Fined $127,300 After Worker Suffers Amputation

As they investigated unsafe working conditions at a Salina battery manufacturer, federal investigators initiated a second safety inspection after the company reported an unguarded machine partially amputated a 32-year-old worker's left middle finger.

On April 26, OSHA issued one willful, and 10 serious safety and health violations to Exide Technologies based on the October 27 complaint and December 3, 2015, injury inspections. OSHA found workers exposed to electrical and machine hazards. The agency also issued a hazard alert letter to the plant for failing to implement a heat-stress program. OSHA proposed total penalties of $127,300.

"Exide Technologies is exposing workers to dangerous electrical and machine hazards that can cause devastating and life-changing injuries like the one this worker suffered," said Judy Freeman, OSHA's area director in Wichita. "While working as a strip caster, this man joined 65 other Kansas workers who, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports suffered preventable, workplace amputation injuries in 2015. Exide needs to clean up its act and take immediate action to fix these hazards."

Inspectors found the amputation injury occurred when the strip caster's left hand was caught in the unguarded belts, pulleys, and gears of a lead-chopping machine at the facility.

OSHA also cited the company for:

  • Using electrical cable trays and equipment found deteriorating from exposure to sulfuric acid vapors
  • Allowing acid and water to accumulate on floors causing holes, slip and trip hazards
  • Impeding exit paths
  • Failing to develop a permit-required confined space program
  • Not training and monitoring workers in confined space
  • Not labeling hazardous chemical containers
  • Failing to train workers about hazardous chemicals in use

View citations from October 27 health, safety and December 3 safety inspections.

Based in Milton, Georgia, Exide focuses on smart battery development and advanced materials and process design at research facilities in the U.S., Germany, Italy, and Spain. The company employs about 620 workers at the Salina facility and 5,000 globally.

Harcros Chemicals Inc. Fined $80,000 for 14 Serious Violations

OSHA issued 14 serious violations to Harcros Chemicals, Inc., in Kansas City, Kansas, after an October 2015 complaint investigation found the manufacturer violated OSHA's process safety management procedures which contain requirements for the management of hazards associated with processes using highly hazardous chemicals.

An investigation by the agency's Wichita Area Office found the company failed to:

  • Maintain adequate drawings and diagrams of pipes and instruments used in the chemical process
  • Develop procedures for safely conducting tasks involved with each step in the process, or to maintain the ongoing integrity of equipment
  • Implement an emergency response plan for the plant and train workers in emergency response procedures

"When highly hazardous chemicals are not properly controlled there is a potential for unintentional release which could result in serious health and safety implications for workers and the neighboring community," said Judy Freeman, OSHA's acting area director in Wichita. "Companies like Harcros that manufacture chemicals must thoroughly train workers and monitor procedures used in the process for needed changes."

Proposed penalties total $80,000.

Lynar Corp. Exposes Workers to Amputation Hazards, Fined $54,000

On, April 22, 2016, OSHA issued citations to Lynar Corp., in Allentown Pennsylvania, for nine serious, one willful, and two other-than-serious violations.

OSHA opened an inspection on February 18, 2016, under its national emphasis program on amputations. Inspectors found that the Lynar Corp., failed to develop procedures or provide training necessary to prevent the release of hazardous energy when employees performed maintenance on machinery. The company received willful citations for the hazards.

The agency also cited the manufacturing company for failing to do the following:

  • Provide powered industrial truck maintenance and operator training
  • Maintain an emergency shower and eye-wash station
  • Equip employees with personal protective equipment
  • Ensure that machine safety guards were in place
  • Develop and implement a hazard communication program
  • Did not ensure that compressed air used for cleaning did not exceed 30 PSI

Proposed penalties total $54,000.

"Lynar Corporation has failed to make safety and health a priority at its facility, leaving employees vulnerable to hazards that could cause serious injury or possible death," said Jean Kulp, director of OSHA's Allentown Area Office. "Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy work environment for employees. OSHA will not tolerate anything less than that."

OSHA cites Irvington convenience store, where employee was killed in October

2015 robbery, for lack of employee safety protections

OSHA National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health Schedules Meeting of the Emergency Response and Preparedness Subcommittee

OSHA’s National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health will hold a meeting of the Emergency Response and Preparedness Subcommittee on May 16–17, 2016, in Washington, D.C.

Among other issues, the subcommittee will discuss potential elements of an emergency response and preparedness proposed rule, such as risk management, facility and equipment preparedness, vehicle preparedness and operation, pre-incident planning, emergency incident standard operating procedures, post-incident analysis, and program evaluation.

The May 16 meeting will be held 10:30 a.m. –5 p.m., and the May 17 meeting will be held 9:00 a.m. –3:00 p.m., in Room S-4215 at the U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20210. The meetings are open to the public. Individuals who would like to attend, submit comments, make an oral presentation or need special accommodations to attend, should contact Bill Hamilton at Hamilton.Bill@dol.gov, 202-693-2077 (phone), or 202-693-1663 (fax), by May 9, 2016.

NACOSH was established by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to advise and make recommendations to the secretaries of labor, and health and human services on occupational safety and health programs, and policies and matters relating to the administration of the OSH Act.

Whitesville Mill Services Named VPP ‘STAR’ For Outstanding Workplace Safety Practices

Whitesville Mill Services, located in Crawfordsville, Indiana, has achieved certification in the Indiana Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) as a ‘STAR’ worksite for excellence in workplace safety and health.

Established in 1989 on the Crawfordville Nucor Steel site, Whitesville Mill Services employs 44 workers who remove slag generated by the process of making steel, then recycle materials and reprocess them into usable aggregates for both public and private roads, as well as products for agricultural use. The facility maintains a strong partnership with Nucor.

Management and employees at Whitesville Mill Services maintain and participate in frequent hazard identification and prevention programs, conduct regular training and inspections and practice thorough safety communication. Because of its commitment to protecting employees, the site experienced only one recordable injury, with no lost-work time, in nearly five years.

“Management and employees at Whitesville Mill Services should consider themselves examples of workplace safety and health for other Hoosier businesses to follow,” said Indiana Department of Labor (IDOL) Commissioner Rick J. Ruble. “They’ve worked hard and earned the title of ‘STAR’ in this program. We’re proud to recognize this Crawfordsville facility.”

Cintas Corporation Location Achieves VPP Star Certification

Cintas Corporation Location G65, located in Indianapolis, Indiana, achieved certification in the Indiana Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) as a STAR site. Indiana VPP sites are leaders in workplace safety and health and are recognized for their success in proactively protecting Hoosier workers.

Cintas Indianapolis is a part of the Cintas Corporation. The facility provides rental uniforms, entrance mats, restroom and hygiene supplies, and promotional products for businesses in north central Indiana. The Cintas G65 Indianapolis site is one of the corporation’s 377 sites, of which 39 have achieved VPP ‘STAR’ certification.

“The management, employees, and staff of Cintas have an approach that prioritizes worker safety and health,” said Indiana Department of Labor (IDOL) Commissioner Rick J. Ruble. “This prioritization places Cintas Corporation into an elite group of worker safety and health- minded Hoosier businesses,” added Ruble.

Reducing and eliminating employee exposure to safety and health hazards is a top priority for Cintas Corporation. The company’s G65 location has a recordable workplace injury and illness rate more than 82% lower than the national industry average.

Ford, UAW Partner with MIOSHA to Reduce Injuries and Illnesses at Plants Throughout Michigan

To emphasize the importance of employee health and safety conditions at its Michigan manufacturing facilities, Ford Motor Company and the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) have renewed their partnership with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA). MIOSHA is part of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).

“MIOSHA has experienced success with increased workplace safety as a result of these partnerships, and so, LARA is pleased to see this relationship with Ford and the UAW continue,” said LARA Deputy Director Wanda Stokes.

Covering 14 Ford sites, the partnership aims to continuously reduce work-related injuries and illnesses by optimizing the resources of the partners in the development and administration of plant health and safety standards.

The partnership is founded on mutual respect, trust, cooperation, accountability, understanding and employee involvement in all plant health and safety issues. Together, the partners will anticipate, identify, evaluate and control health and safety hazards at Ford locations while using performance metrics to monitor and track health and safety performance.

Inspection protocols will be used to perform focused inspections, including but not limited to ergonomics, confined space entry, heat stress, electrical safety, working at heights, noise control, and personal protective equipment.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with MIOSHA, which has been critical in achieving continued improvements in preventing work-related injuries at Ford,” said Ford Global Occupational Health and Safety Director Shaun Whitehead. “This partnership focuses on preventing injuries on the job, helping to create a culture where our employees know that safety is the most important thing.”

Under the agreement, each participating site will receive a “MIOSHA Day” visit a minimum of every three years, in which the plant manager, union chairperson and their leadership team will provide a briefing to MIOSHA representatives. The briefing will include a review of the injury and illness experience of the facility for the past year and any developing trends, as well as a review of results from internal inspections. MIOSHA will conduct an informal walkthrough to verify the information presented in the briefing is an accurate portrayal of facility operations.

Ford first entered into a similar partnership with the UAW and MIOSHA March 2002. Since then, injury rates have declined in Ford's North America facilities by 74% in total case incident rates and 88% in the days away from work, restricted duty and job transfer rates, and the partners have collaborated on other strategic health and safety initiatives.

For more information about forming a partnership with MIOSHA, visit http://www.michigan.gov/miosha or contact the MIOSHA Consultation Education and Training (CET) Division at 517-284-7720.

Safety News Links

DOT Observes Ninth Annual National Safe Digging Month

New DOT Proposed Safety Standard Establishes Additional Safety for Motorcoach and Large Bus Occupants

2014 Sees Most Unintentional Workplace Deaths Since 2008

IKEA and U.S. Safety Agency in New Talks After Third Child Dies in Dresser Tip-Over

Swim Safely this Summer

Worker Injured at Arizona Construction Site

Florida Number 2 in Workplace Deaths

OSHA Report Reveals Manufacturers’ Attempts to Cover Up Severe Injuries

Alabama Gas Station Worker Critically Injured in Fire

Worker Dies in Industrial Accident in Jacksonville, Florida