Three contractors face a total of $67,600 in OSHA fines for a variety of fall hazards found at the construction site of five four-story townhouses in Hampton, N.H.
Cited were New Generation Construction LLC of Peterborough, N.H.; D&F Builders LLC of Hooksett, N.H.; and Enrique Reynoso of Lynn, Mass. OSHA began its inspection Feb. 2, 2005, when an inspector observed fall hazards while driving past the Dustin Rd. jobsite.
"Workers at this site were exposed to falls of up to four stories from unguarded roofs, scaffolding, aerial lifts, open-sided floors and window openings," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's New Hampshire area director. "This is particularly disturbing since falls are one of the four leading causes of death in construction work."
New Generation, a framing contractor, faces $49,000 in fines. The company was issued two willful citations for lack of fall protection for employees working from an aerial lift and exposing employees to falls from unprotected window openings and open-sided floors. OSHA also issued a repeat citation for no fall protection for employees working on scaffolding, and three serious citations for missing stair rails, missing stairway guardrails and an unsafe portable ladder.
D&F, which was installing siding, was fined $15,600. The firm received one willful citation for inadequate fall protection for employees working on scaffolding and five serious citations for unsecured and improperly erected scaffolding, no head protection for employees working beneath scaffolding, an inadequately guarded table saw and an unsafe ladder. Reynoso, a roofing subcontractor, was fined $3,000 for four serious citations for no fall protection for employees working on roofs, inadequately anchored fall protection, an unsafe ladder and failing to train employees in when and how to utilize fall protection.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. A serious violation is a condition where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee.
OSHA Budget Request for 2006
OSHAÆs budget request, in which the Agency is asking for less than 1% increase, summarizes the agencyÆs recent successes as well as its future plans. The agency is claiming that its initiatives have resulted in 300,000 fewer injuries than last year and a death rate that is the lowest in the AgencyÆs history.
Tolland County Manufacturing Plant Faces $104,000 in Fines for Safety and Health Hazards
A wide cross-section of safety and health hazards at a Stafford Springs manufacturing plant has resulted in a total of $104,000 in OSHA fines.
CUNO Inc., which makes water filters, was cited for a total of 51 alleged serious and other than serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The citations and fines resulted from an inspection conducted under an OSHA program that focuses on worksites that have a higher than average number of workdays lost due to on-the-job injuries and illnesses.
OSHA's inspection identified dozens of instances of unguarded moving machine parts; electrical hazards including ungrounded equipment and exposed live electrical parts; lack of eye and face protection; unstable stacking of material; blocked aisles; wet floors; deficiencies in the plant's respirator, hearing conservation, confined space entry and hazard communication programs; and failure to properly maintain the illness and injury log, including not recording all reportable injuries.
The inspection also found hazardous concentrations of combustible and explosive dust and fibers present on machinery and electrical equipment. In addition, untrained employees were allowed to extinguish a fire in a curing oven without adequate firefighting education, training or equipment, a condition that exposed the workers to the hazards of smoke inhalation and first, second and third degree burns.
"These conditions are a matter of serious concern," said Thomas Guilmartin, OSHA's Hartford area director. "Left uncorrected, they expose workers to, among other hazards, fires, explosions, falls, hearing loss, burns, toxic chemicals, electrocution, eye injuries, lacerations, amputations and being struck by a fork truck."
A serious violation is a condition where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee.
CUNO Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its 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's Hartford area office conducted the inspection.
OSHA Issues Whistleblower Rule
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently published final procedures for handling whistleblower complaints under the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002 (PSIA). The final rule is identical to an interim final rule published a year ago.
Signed on Dec. 17, 2002, the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act applies to pipeline facilities that transport natural gas or hazardous liquids in interstate commerce. Provisions of the Act prohibit pipeline operators from firing or taking adverse action against workers who report concerns about pipeline safety to either the employer or the government. Complainants have 180 days from the alleged discrimination to file with OSHA.
"The Pipeline Safety Improvement Act offers important safeguards to employees to encourage them to report safety concerns without fear of reprisal, and we are committed to following up on complaints of discrimination," said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jonathan L. Snare.
OSHA issued interim final rules for PSIA on April 5, 2004, and requested public comment. No substantive comments were received, and the agency is re-publishing the interim final rule as a final rule. The final rule includes procedures for submitting complaints, conducting investigations and issuing findings and preliminary orders. This rule details litigation procedures and the process for objecting to findings and requesting a hearing. The final rule also contains provisions covering withdrawals of complaints and settlements along with judicial review and judicial enforcement.
Since PSIA took effect in 2002, OSHA has received five whistleblower complaints under the law. OSHA is responsible for investigating complaints of discrimination filed under 14 statutes, including PSIA.
Meanwhile, an OSHA whistleblower is claiming that the Agency is not doing enough to protect its own employees.
$89,100 Fine after Lack of Lockout/Tagout Leads to Injury
Engineered Materials Solutions Inc. a metals manufacturing plant faces $89,100 in OSHA fines following an Oct. 10, 2004, accident in which an employee suffered crushing injuries after being dragged into a metal-forming machine. The company was cited for a total of 29 alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following OSHA safety and health inspections conducted between Oct. 19, 2004 and Feb. 17, 2005.
Regarding the accident, the safety inspection found that the machine had not been guarded to prevent employees from being caught in its moving parts. In addition, the company had not established and enforced lockout/tagout procedures for employees performing cleaning and maintenance work on the machine. Such procedures are required to prevent the machine's accidental startup by ensuring it is completely shut down and its power source locked out before work begins.
Other conditions cited during the safety inspection included numerous additional instances of unguarded machinery; exposed live electrical parts; ungrounded electrical equipment; lack of required eyewash stations and face protection for employees; slings not marked to show their lifting capacity; missing stair rails; and a flammable storage cabinet that did not meet minimal fire resistance requirements.
A concurrent OSHA health inspection identified several hazards involving cadmium, an extremely toxic metal. These included employees exposed to excess levels of cadmium; ineffective steps to reduce exposure levels; inadequate monitoring of workers for exposure; cadmium-contaminated surfaces in the break room, change room and other locations; inadequate or improper methods of cleaning up cadmium; and an incomplete cadmium compliance plan.
"The number and breadth of hazards found here are cause for serious concern," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for southeastern Massachusetts. "Effective steps must be taken and maintained to both prevent future accidents and protect workers against a highly toxic substance."