OSHA CITES EMPLOYER FOR ALLEGED WORKPLACE SAFETY & HEALTH VIOLATIONS; PROPOSES OVER $92,000 IN PENALTIES

March 01, 2001

OSHA has cited AGC, Inc. of Meriden, Conn., for alleged serious and other violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and has proposed penalties totaling $92,050 for those violations.

OSHA initiated safety and health inspections of the AGC facilities, which manufacture aircraft engine component parts, on Oct. 12, 2000, under the Site Specific Targeting Program which focuses on workplaces with exceptionally high injury and illness rates.

"Using 1998 data, the average lost workday injury and illness rate for all industries throughout the country was 3.1 per hundred workers. The rate for the AGC plant was 15.92 per hundred workers in that same period," said Clifford S. Weston, OSHA area director in Bridgeport.

Both inspections concluded on Nov. 15, 2000.

Weston noted that the violations found during the safety inspection include deficiencies such as lack of guard railings, obstructed means of egress, problems with material handling equipment, machine guarding and electrical hazards, as well as insufficient means for controlling the lock out of hazardous energy sources. In all, the company is being cited for 33 alleged serious safety violations carrying proposed penalties totaling $71,050.

In addition, Weston said the health inspection revealed serious violations involving: lack of hearing conservation program and engineering controls for noise overexposures; lack of a hazard assessment for personal protective equipment; lack of appropriate respirator program; inadequate emergency eyewashes; inadequate training concerning hazardous chemicals, more specifically, hydrofluoric acid; hazards associated with cadmium; and the lack of protection for first aid responders where no exposure control plan was in place and employees were not offered the Hepatitis B vaccination. AGC is being cited for 12 alleged serious health violations, including proposed penalties totaling $18,900.

Three other-than-serious violations found during the health inspection address: recordkeeping deficiencies, personal protective equipment and lack of updated material safety data sheets. Those alleged violations include a proposed penalty of $2,100.

Weston said numerous individual hazards were found in the workplace, with most of the citations containing groupings of multiple instances of alleged violations.

An other-than-serious violation is a condition which would probably not cause death or serious physical harm, but would have a direct and immediate impact on the safety and health of employees.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 gives OSHA the responsibility to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites. Through workplace inspections, OSHA assures that standards are followed.

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


OSHA PROPOSES $161,550 PENALTY AGAINST MICHAEL ANGELO'S GOURMET FOODS, INC. FOR ALLEGED SAFETY VIOLATIONS

OSHA has cited Michael Angelo's Gourmet Foods, Inc., in Austin, Texas, with 34 alleged safety violations and proposed penalties totaling $161,550.

Michael Angelo's Gourmet Foods is a frozen food manufacturer that employs about 615 workers in North Austin.

The alleged safety violations were discovered during an OSHA inspection that began Aug. 24, 2000 by a referral from an OSHA health inspector after a release of ammonia at the plant on Aug. 8, 2000. In a separate health investigation, OSHA issued $220,950 in proposed penalties to the company on Feb. 5 for 21 alleged health violations resulting from the ammonia release.

The company was cited for two willful, 20 alleged serious and 12 other-than-serious safety violations. The two willful violations involved failing to provide training and proper lockout/tagout procedures during cleaning and maintaining of machines to ensure that the energy sources from the machines could not be restarted; and failing to properly guard moving parts of machinery.

The company was also cited with 20 alleged serious safety violations, some of which include failing to follow federal regulations regarding process safety management of the ammonia system, control of hazardous energy while servicing machines, machine guarding, electrical hazards and other safety issues.

The 12 alleged other-than-serious safety violations involve hazardous conditions that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.

The Aug. 11, 2000 investigation regarding the 21 alleged health citations, issued to the company on Feb. 5, was in response to an evacuation an ammonia release that resulted in 12 food production workers requiring medical attention. The ammonia release occurred on Aug. 8, 2000.

The three alleged willful violations of OSHA's health standards include failing to provide personal protective equipment, failing to provide training in response to hazardous chemical releases and failing to maintain a permitting system to ensure that employees entering confined spaces could not be overcome by hazardous atmospheres. The 18 alleged serious health violations involve failing to follow hazardous waste and emergency response preparation, respiratory protection standards and permit required confined space provisions.

"OSHA investigators found machine safety interlocks deliberately bypassed in order to speed up production and maintenance work on machinery that was not properly locked out of service putting employees at risk for amputations and other serious injuries," said Paul L. Brantley, OSHA area director in Austin. "Preventable injuries were occurring in the plant and the employer did not take prompt corrective action to reduce these injuries."

Michael Angelo's Gourmet Foods has 15 working days from the receipt of the citations to either comply, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA Austin area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Sachty and Health Review Commission.


KANSAS GRAIN STORAGE COMPANY SETTLES SAFETY AND HEALTH VIOLATIONS

Owners of a Kansas grain storage facility paid $685,000 in penalties for safety and health violations at its Haysville grain elevator as part of a final settlement agreement approved by an administrative law judge.

DeBruce Grain, Inc. was cited by OSHA on Dec. 7, 1998, for violations of the grain handling standard that triggered an explosion at the Haysville facility on June 8, 1998. That explosion killed seven workers and injured ten others.

"This settlement cannot replace the lives lost nor make up for the pain suffered by those injured in that catastrophic accident almost three years ago," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "But, it does show that DeBruce management wants to do the right thing by resolving this matter so they can continue to work toward eliminating safety hazards at their worksites and better protect their employees."

The agreement settles citations issued against the company that included hazards related to dust collection systems, the storage of flammable and combustible materials, machine guarding violations, and violations of the respiratory protection and recordkeeping standards.

DeBruce Grain, Inc. employs 250 workers at facilities in Nebraska, Texas, Iowa, and Kansas. The DeBruce facilities have a combined capacity of 44 million bushels of grain. The half mile-long facility at Haysville (southwest of Wichita) is the largest in the world under one head house, with a total storage capacity of 24 million bushels.

(NOTE: A group of independent consultants, including six experts in grain elevator explosions, was commissioned by OSHA to compile a report on the explosion. An executive summary of that report is available on OSHA's web site at http://www.osha-slc.gov/html/hot_6.html.


OSHA PROPOSES $181,200 PENALTY FOLLOWING FATAL ACCIDENT AT FOUNDRY

OSHA has cited Union Foundry Company, Anniston, Ala., and proposed penalties totaling $181,200 for serious, willful and repeat safety and health violations following the investigation of an Aug. 22 fatality at the plant.

The accident happened when an employee was caught in an unguarded conveyor pulley while he attempted to unclog a sand chute nearby. "This tragic accident could easily have been prevented if the employer had adopted standard safety procedures that guard workers from hazards associated with moving machine parts," said Ramona Morris, acting director of OSHA's Birmingham area office.

Following a safety inspection, OSHA proposed a penalty of $70,000 for one willful citation in connection with the unguarded conveyor pulley.

"A willful citation results in cases where there appears to be an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH act and regulations," Morris explained. "In this case, the conveyor pulley's guard had been removed three months earlier when the machinery was relocated while new equipment was installed. The guard was never replaced even though it was sitting near the machine in plain view."

Morris added, "We issued a willful citation against Union Foundry because no effort was made to assure the safety of workers even though management was aware that an unguarded conveyor could result in serious injury or death. In fact, only months before, a worker had been killed in a similar accident in a Tyler, Texas, plant owned by the same parent company that owns the Anniston foundry."

The safety inspection resulted in an additional $58,500 penalty for 17 serious citations for: electrical violations, including unmarked and open circuit breakers; an unguarded pit opening; other unguarded machines, and operating a crane without clearly marked load rates and audible warning devices.

The agency also cited two repeat safety violations with total penalties of $12,500 for operating defective powered industrial trucks and failing to ground electrical equipment. Both violations had been cited previously following OSHA inspections of the company in 1999.

A health inspection was initiated, shortly after the fatality investigation began, as part of OSHA's national emphasis program for silica. This inspection resulted in seven serious health violations with proposed penalties totaling $40,000. Violations included failure to follow silica dust standards and not providing personal protective equipment to employees exposed to noise and chemical hazards.

A serious violation, whether the result of a safety or health inspection, is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

Union Foundry employs approximately 400 workers at the Anniston location. The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.