Fatal Accident Investigated û OSHA Proposed Penalties of $70,800

June 24, 2005

OSHA has issued citations to Cotton Construction Inc. of Waller, Texas, and proposed penalties totaling $70,800 for safety violations following the investigation of a fatality last January in Houston.

OSHA began its investigation Jan. 7 after a worker fell 25 feet to his death while working on a partially decked rooftop at a worksite on N. Shepherd. Cotton Construction, which employs about 12 workers, was cited for three willful and four serious violations.

The alleged willful violations include failing to ensure horizontal lifelines were designed, installed and used under the supervision of a qualified person; inadequate personal fall arrest systems; and failing to provide training for erecting, maintaining, disassembling, and inspecting the fall protection systems.

Among the serious violations were failing to: assure anchorages used for attachments of personal fall arrest systems were capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds; inspect personal fall arrest systems prior to use for wear, damage and other deterioration or defective components; assure that training required by the OSHA steel erection standard was conducted by a competent person, and train employees on the proper use of ladders.




Firestone Industrial Products Facility Received GovernorÆs Award

Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner James Neeley announced that the Firestone Industrial Products (FSIP) facility in Dyersburg was chosen to receive the GovernorÆs Award of Excellence for Workplace Safety and Health.

The GovernorÆs Award honors Tennessee employers and employees who meet a required number of hours during a calendar year without workplace injuries serious enough to cause an employee to miss a day of work or restrict his normal job activities. The number of hours required is based on the size of the company.

ôThe evaluation criteria for the Governor's Award are demanding," said Deputy Commissioner Bob Henningsen who presented the award at the Dyersburg facility. "Achieving the required level of safety shows Firestone Industrial Products is strongly committed to maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. It's a tribute to the company that its employees work to sustain such a notable safety record."

FSIP is the air spring business unit of BFS Diversified Products, LLC (BFDP) and specializes in air suspension technology (air springs and their control systems). FSIP has engineering and research facilities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Japan and has manufacturing plants in the United States, Brazil and Poland. The company has worked since April 2003 without a lost time or restricted duty case.

The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development Safety Awards Program is designed to stimulate interest in accident prevention and to promote safety. The program recognizes manufacturing and construction firms throughout the state that achieve and maintain a safe and healthful workplace.




Improperly Maintained and Guarded Machinery Causes WorkerÆs Hand to be Amputated

OSHA has cited Maytag Searcy Laundry Products in Searcy, Ark., and proposed penalties totaling $67,500 for failing to protect workers from improperly maintained and guarded machinery.

OSHA cited the company for one willful and one serious violation following an investigation that began March 2 when the agency received a complaint that a worker's hand had been amputated by a machine.

"The press brake, a metal forming machine, double-cycled when it should not have, just when the worker's hand was in the point of operation," said Paul J. Hansen, Little Rock area director. "By not following OSHA standards, the employer exposed workers to unnecessary hazards."

The employer received a willful citation for failing to: ensure that the press brake was equipped with anti-repeat features; conduct and maintain inspection records of the press brake, and properly train employees on the operation of a press brake. The serious citation was for failing to properly guard the press brake.




Unsafe Trench May Cost Pittsburgh Contractor $62,000

Failure to provide a safe trenching operation for its workers could cost Pittsburgh, Pa. employer A. Merante Contracting, Inc., $62,000 in penalties proposed by the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards.

OSHA's action follows an inspection conducted in mid-May when the agency received notice that employees were working in a 13-foot deep excavation with no protection from cave-ins. The work is part of a project installing storm water pipe lines in Mt. Lebanon.

When the OSHA compliance officer arrived on the jobsite he ordered the employee out of the dangerous, unprotected trench. When he returned the next day, two more employees were working in the same unsafe trench. A cave-in had occurred at this site approximately two weeks before the inspection.

The proposed penalty for two alleged willful violations is $56,000. A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with intentional disregard for, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and its regulations. Four serious violations, with a proposed total penalty of $6,000, address other hazards associated with the excavation operations.




Trenching Fatality Caused by Failure to Protect Workers û$133,000 Fine from OSHA

OSHA has cited KCC Group Inc., Pearland, Texas, and proposed penalties totaling $133,000 for failing to protect workers from trenching hazards that led to an employee's death.

OSHA began its investigation Dec. 23, 2004, in response to a trench cave-in at a worksite on York Blvd. in Pearland. One worker was killed; another dug himself free and escaped without serious injury. OSHA citations against the company alleged two willful, 10 serious and two other-than-serious violations of safety and health standards.

"OSHA standards for trenching and excavation are very specific and designed to protect workers from cave-ins," said Chuck Williams, OSHA's area director for the Houston South office. "This tragic death could have been avoided, and OSHA will not tolerate employers who expose workers to preventable hazards."

The two willful citations were issued for failing to provide a protective system in an excavation more than seven feet deep and to support, protect or remove underground installations to safeguard workers. The serious violations involve employee exposure to hazards associated with excavations, including failure to: remove employees from a hazardous excavation; support adjoining structures; locate any spoils pile at least two feet from the edge of the excavation; provide a safe way to exit the trench, protect workers from water accumulation in the excavation.

Failure to protect employees from protruding re-enforcement steel and not maintaining a required log of injuries and illnesses resulted in the other-than-serious citations against the company.




Failure to Guard High Voltage Equipment Leads to Fatal Electrocution, $174,250 Fine

The electrocution death of a worker who came in contact with a 10,000 volt power supply at a Malvern, Pa. semiconductor manufacturing plant has resulted in $174,250 in proposed fines against the employer.

OSHA cited Silicon Power Corporation for alleged willful and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following the Dec. 17, 2004 fatal accident.

Four willful violations, with a proposed penalty of $168,000, and three serious violations carrying a penalty of $6,250 have been issued, according to Phyllis Kyner, area director of the Philadelphia OSHA office. The willful violations address the company's failure to properly guard high voltage equipment and employ safe practices. The three serious violations address deficiencies in the employer's safety-related work practices and associated training.




MSDSs Must Disclose All Chemicals if They Pose a Risk to Employees, Regardless of the Concentration

In a recent interpretation, OSHA indicated that chemical manufacturers (or others that prepare MSDSs) must report the chemical and common names of all components on the MSDSs which pose a health risk to employees. This has to be done regardless of the percentage amounts of the chemical present in their products provided that there is scientific evidence that the particular chemical poses a health risk to employees.




Office Products are Subject to Hazard Communication Standard

In a recent interpretation, OSHA indicated that chemicals used in an office setting are subject to the Hazard Communication Standard if they are used by employees while they are ôperforming operations related to their normal work requirements.ö The interpretation stated that, ôif the employees are routinely exposed to these hazardous chemicals, then they would be required to be afforded the chemical hazard information available through MSDS and hazard communication training. It is the responsibility of the employer to determine employee exposure and ascertain if the frequency of use/exposure is indeed not more than that which would be experienced by a normal consumer.ö




U.S. Postal Service Named First Federal Agency in OSHA's 'VPP Corporate' Pilot Program

OSHA recently approved the United States Postal Service (USPS) as the first federal organization in OSHA's "Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) Corporate" pilot program.

The Voluntary Protection Programs recognize and promote outstanding workplace safety and health management. USPS joins Georgia-Pacific Corporation as the first two organizations to be formally accepted in the VPP Corporate pilot program, which streamlines the application and onsite evaluation processes for corporations that have made a commitment to VPP.

"The U.S. Postal Service has been a strong partner with OSHA in a variety of cooperative initiatives, and has been an active participant in VPP since 2001," said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jonathan L. Snare during ceremonies at USPS Headquarters in Washington. "The continued commitment to the safety and health of the entire USPS workforce is truly exemplary and worthy of emulation by other corporate entities. We are proud to recognize that commitment and we applaud your willingness to continue to work with us for even safer and healthier workplaces."

Postmaster General John E. Potter said that the VPP Corporate Pilot initiative is a driving force for the continued safety and health of the more than 700,000 career postal employees at more than 37,000 facilities nationwide. Said Potter, "We are committed to working with our partners to achieve safety and health excellence. This initiative is a triple win; our employees benefit, the organization benefits, and the country benefits."

USPS now has 17 worksites actively participating in the VPP. About 100 USPS worksites are expected to apply for VPP designation in 2005, due largely to their commitment to two initiatives launched last year: "OSHA Challenge" and "VPP Corporate." USPS was a charter "Challenge" participant, and in April became the first federal organization to successfully complete an evaluation under the VPP Corporate pilot program. The evaluation included key aspects of USPS' safety and health policies, programs and records, as well as interviews with senior managers and executives, and labor officials.




Worker Trapped in Trench for Several Hours; Employer Fined $116,500

OSHA cited Ramos Industries Inc of Houston and proposed penalties totaling $116,500 from a partial trench collapse that trapped a worker. The company was cited for one alleged willful, four alleged serious and one alleged repeat violation following an investigation that began Dec. 7, 2004, when an employee working in a 17-foot deep trench at a construction site in Palmhurst, Texas, was trapped for several hours while rescuers had to shore up the lower portions of the trench before they could enter to extract the injured worker.

"The investigation revealed that the employee was working in an unguarded trench without an escape ladder," said John Giefer, OSHA Corpus Christi area director. "By not following OSHA trenching standards, the employer exposed to unnecessary hazards."

The willful citation was for failing to install trench protective systems so that less than two feet of unprotected trench wall existed below the bottom of the trench box. The serious citations were for failing to properly move trench boxes to prevent damage during transportation, failing to provide a competent person to daily inspect trenches and failing to use a trench protective system with appropriate strength. The repeat citation is for failing to have a safe means of entering and exiting trenches.