March 27, 2003
A freight hauler's failure to adequately train and equip its workers to respond safely to a chemical release has resulted in a total of $83,500 in fines from OSHA. Yellow Freight System, based in Overland Park, Kansas, has been cited for alleged repeat and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following an OSHA inspection prompted by a Sept. 16, 2002, spill of the hazardous chemical pyridine/2-chloropyridine at its North Reading, Mass., terminal.

OSHA's inspection found that the employees who responded to the release lacked the required training to do so and also failed to wear required personal protective equipment, including appropriate respirators, hand protection and impervious chemical protection suits, explained Richard Fazzio, OSHA's area director for northeastern Massachusetts.

"The lack of these basic safeguards can only increase the dangers posed by a hazardous chemical release," he said. "It's imperative that workers be properly trained and equipped to respond to such incidents, both for their own health and that of their fellow workers."

Fazzio explained that the bulk of the fine, $75,000, is for four alleged repeat violations, so classified because Yellow Freight has previously been cited for substantially similar violations at facilities in Houston Texas, Tampa, Fla., Albany, N.Y., and Shreveport, La. Two of the citations address the lack of training and appropriate protective equipment for the workers who responded to the release while the other two concern the use of defective forklift trucks and fall hazards from missing guardrails. OSHA issues repeat citations when an employer has previously been cited for substantially similar violations and those citations have become final.

The inspection also identified three alleged serious violations, with $8,500 in proposed penalties, for exposed live electrical conductors, a slipping hazard, and a ladder with inadequate side railings. OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

Yellow Freight System has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


An explosion at a Reliant Processing Group worksite in Muleshoe, Texas, in September that resulted in the death of a worker has led to citations from OSHA and proposed penalties totaling $70,000. Reliant Processing, headquartered in Odessa, Texas, processes carbon dioxide gas for bottling and beverage companies.

OSHA began its investigation of Reliant following an accident in which an employee was killed when the tank he was insulating exploded. The tank was filled with carbon dioxide. No other workers were injured. The company employs about 300 workers, 10 of whom worked in Muleshoe.

The company was cited for one alleged willful violation for exposing employees to a struck-by hazard associated with the sudden and catastrophic failure of carbon dioxide storage tanks. The explosion was related to a build-up of excessive pressure and brittle fracturing of two tanks due to extremely low temperatures. A willful violation is defined as an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the OSHA law and regulations.

The accident in Muleshoe prompted an investigation at the Reliant plant in Guymon, Okla. whose operations are similar. The investigation conducted by OSHA's Oklahoma City area office resulted in citations at the Guymon plant with penalties totaling $70,650. Reliant Processing Group, LLC has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to either comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Lubbock office, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


OSHA's New Hampshire area office is urging employers in the Granite State's solid waste industry to review their work practices and hoisting equipment to eliminate deadly crushing hazards posed to their workers by dumpsters that are improperly secured while being lifted and emptied into trash trucks.

OSHA's appeal stems from a fatality that occurred Jan. 3 at the Mountain Valley Mall. An employee of North Conway Incinerator Service, Inc., of North Conway, died when a dumpster dislodged while being lifted, swung around and crushed him against the side of his truck. OSHA's inspection determined that the dumpster's trunnion bar had not been locked prior to its being lifted. This would have stabilized the dumpster and kept it from 'kicking out'.

The inspection identified additional crushing hazards including damaged wire hoisting ropes used to lift dumpsters, lifting hooks lacking safety latches, and wire rope clips not installed according to manufacturer specifications. Employees could be crushed beneath a falling dumpster in the event any of these elements failed during operation.

An inspection of Belmont-based BBI Waste Industries (d/b/a Bestway Disposal), begun Jan. 29 when an OSHA inspector observed one of its trucks lifting an unsecured dumpster in Northfield, identified the same hazards. As a result, OSHA has cited each employer for an alleged willful violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act for failing to supply employment or a place of employment free from recognized crushing hazards.

"We don't want to see this type of hazard become a pattern," said David May, OSHA's New Hampshire area director. "A dumpster can weigh more than a ton, becoming lethal if it dislodges or its hoisting ropes fail. The best thing employers can do for their workers and themselves is to check to ensure that their hoisting equipment is in good condition and that dumpsters are properly and completely secured before being lifted."

North Conway Incinerator Service faces a proposed fine of $21,000 for the willful citation while a fine of $35,000 is proposed for BBI Waste Industries. $7,200 in additional fines are proposed for North Conway Incinerator for ten alleged serious violations for unrelated safety hazards. A detailed breakdown of the citations and fines is attached.

Each employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, and/or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health John Henshaw announced that Security Metal Products Corp. of Clinton, Okla., and Alpha Health Services of Post Falls, Idaho, have entered into agreements with the agency to work with OSHA to correct ergonomic hazards. The two companies were recently cited for multiple violations of workplace safety and health standards, including ergonomic issues.

"OSHA's objective is to ensure that workers have safe and healthful workplaces in which to work," said Henshaw. "We are pleased that these companies have agreed to make specific changes to protect their workers. Both agreements represent a commitment by the company's management that they're serious about eliminating workplace hazards."

Security Metal Products Corp. is a metal fabricating corporation that manufactures custom door frames. The agreement settles citations issued by OSHA following an August 2002 planned inspection. The company was cited for an ergonomic violation relating to materials handling, as well as violations of other safety and health standards. In addition to providing OSHA with a written detailed plan of abatement for violations, the company agreed to revise its safety and health program and to include an ergonomics program for worksite analysis, medical management and training and education.

Alpha Health Services is a health care services provider that operates several nursing homes in the Post Falls area. During inspections held last November, seven of its facilities received citations for various workplace violations. Three of those facilities were cited for ergonomics issues relating to resident handling. Park House and Third Street, both of Post Falls, and Cassia House of Rathdrum, Idaho, have all agreed to implement a new policy for transferring and lifting residents using mechanical devices. That policy will include a worksite analysis, occupational health management, training and education, and hazard prevention and control.

Security Metal Products inspection was conducted as part of OSHA's Site Specific Targeting (SST) inspection program for 2002. SST inspections are conducted at establishments with injury and illness rates much higher than the national average. Alpha Health Services was inspected under OSHA's National Emphasis Program for nursing and personal care facilities.

Under terms of the settlement, both companies agreed to waive the right to contest the citations, and pay reduced penalties. Security Metal Products' penalty was reduced to $51,300, while the total penalty for all seven establishments of Alpha Health Services was reduced to $2,200.


Illinois employers can get help in identifying and eliminating workplace safety hazards at training sessions to be held on April 8 in Crystal Lake and on April 9 in South Holland.

Co-sponsored by OSHA, the state of Illinois, and Northern Illinois University, safety and health experts will help employers identify and control amputation hazards caused by saws, shears, power presses and other machinery. Amputations occur most often when workers operate unguarded or inadequately safeguarded machinery.

A training session will be held on April 8 at McHenry Community College, 8900 US Hwy 14, Crystal Lake, Ill. The training will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 12:30 p.m. The fee for the training is $35. To register, contact Betty Hendrix at 815-455-8592.

A second training session will be held on April 9 at South Suburban College, 15800 South State Street, South Holland, Ill. The training will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 12:30 p.m. The fee for the training is $25. To register, contact Mary Ann Janiga at 708-596-2000 ext. 2522.

"An average of 10,000 on-the-job amputations occur each year in the United States, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data," said Michael G. Connors, regional administrator for OSHA. "These training sessions will help prevent amputation accidents which affect so many American workers."