Examining the Top 10
Penalty BoxThe list of OSHA’s highest proposed monetary penalties in fiscal year 2012 comprises penalties stemming from a single incident or related incidents in which one or more companies are alleged to have failed to adhere to safe work practices. This failure puts workers at risk – in some cases fatally. The following information was provided by OSHA.
Note: These fines represent proposed penalties issued by OSHA between Oct. 1, 2011, and Sept. 30, 2012; dollar amounts may be reduced as part of a settlement or litigation.
Company: Piping Technology and Products Inc.
Location: Houston (OSHA Region 6)
Business type: Manufacturer
Inspection trigger: Worker complaint
Event: Following an employee’s allegation of a lack of brakes on overhead cranes and unguarded presses, OSHA inspected the facility and substantiated the claims. Inspectors also found a lack of proper guarding when employees cut metal I-beams and pipes, and improper safeguards that exposed employees to unexpected releases of stored energy during machine maintenance.
Major citations: Thirteen willful violations were cited related to failure to guard and lock out equipment before maintenance. An additional 17 serious violations involved failure to guard other machines, ensure openings on electrical equipment were closed, and provide fall protection training, among other violations. The company was subsequently placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“Piping Technology deliberately exposed its workers who operate band saws and other dangerous machinery to amputation hazards while misleading OSHA investigators about the use of these machines.” – OSHA administrator David Michaels
Company: All-Feed Processing & Packaging Inc.
Location: Galva, IL (OSHA Region 5)
Business type: Pet food production and packaging
Inspection trigger: Not provided
Event: Having inspected the facility 10 times since 2000 and issued citations on five occasions, OSHA obtained a warrant in May 2011 to conduct an inspection, during which numerous alleged violations were found.
Major citations: A total of 23 citations were issued at the facility, including 13 willful citations for failure to mandate the use of respirators, protect dust collection units and require employees to work in areas with dust levels beyond permissible exposure limits, as well as a lack of an effective hearing ?conservation program, among others. Four repeat citations were issued for powered industrial truck violations, and for failing to posts signs indicating the presence of combustible dust and warning employees of potential dangers posed by workspaces involving hazardous conditions. The company was subsequently placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“Even after a powerful dust explosion and fire at this facility in 2009, along with a number of citations previously issued for similar conditions, All-Feed Processing & Packaging fails to comply with safety and health requirements.” – OSHA administrator David Michaels
Company: Tribe Mediterranean Foods
Location: Taunton, MA (OSHA Region 1)
Business type: Food manufacturer
Inspection trigger: Worker death
Event: A contract worker who was cleaning and sanitizing a machine used in the manufacture of hummus was pulled into the machine and fatally crushed.
Major citations: The Nestle SA subsidiary was cited for nine willful violations, including lockout/tagout and failure to adequately train maintenance workers to recognize hazardous energy sources. Also issued were citations for three repeat violations involving failure to conduct inspections on energy control procedures and citations for six violations that included machine guarding hazards. The company was subsequently placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“The employer knew it needed to train these workers so they could protect themselves against just this type of hazard but failed to do so. The result was a needless and avoidable loss of life.” – OSHA administrator David Michaels
Company: DeMoulas Supermarkets Inc., doing business as Market Basket
Location: Rindge and Concord, NH (OSHA Region 1)
Business type: Grocery store
Inspection trigger: Worker injury
Event: A worker fell 11 feet onto a concrete floor from an alleged inadequately guarded storage mezzanine at the Rindge facility, sustaining broken bones and head trauma. Instead of calling for emergency help, management placed the injured worker in a wheelchair and had him wait in the store’s receiving dock for a relative to take him to the hospital. The Concord facility was inspected after an OSHA supervisor observed similar fall hazards at that location while shopping.
Major citations: Citations were issued for four willful violations that involved fall and laceration hazards. Seven repeat violations were issued for similar hazardous conditions found at several other store locations, including lack of bloodborne pathogen training, amputation hazards and inadequate training for powered industrial truck operators. The company also received citations for 19 serious violations that included the General Duty Clause, obstructed exit routes and lack of chemical hazard training for workers. OSHA later ordered the company to address hazards at all Market Basket locations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
“This employer has been cited for similar conditions at numerous other stores. Although those individual hazards were abated, this employer has not taken effective steps to correct these hazards across the board.” – OSHA administrator David Michaels
Company: Welch Group Environmental LLP
Location: Delray Beach, FL (OSHA Region 4)
Business type: Gun range cleaning and lead recovery services
Inspection trigger: National and Regional Emphasis Programs for lead
Event: An inspection found that Welch Group Environmental, which was contracted by Delray Shooting Center to clean a shooting range and reclaim lead, knowingly neglected to protect workers from lead overexposure.
Major citations: Citations for 11 willful violations were issued involving failure to provide employees with a respirator fit-test and training, failure to use engineering controls, failure to provide eye and head protection, and failure to monitor lead levels in workers’ blood. Four serious violations were issued for failure to provide workers with their blood-lead level results and provide appropriate respirators when workers were exposed to lead greater than 10 times the maximum concentration. The company was subsequently placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“The management of Welch Group Environmental acknowledged awareness of OSHA’s lead standards and the dangers associated with lead exposure but continued to allow hazards to exist, exposing employees to serious health risks.” – Darlene Fossum, OSHA area director in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Company: Raani Corp.
Location: Bedford Park, IL (OSHA Region 5)
Business type: Health care product manufacturer
Inspection trigger: Worker death
Event: A high-temperature water and a solution erupted while a worker was beneath an open tank hatch, resulting in fatal burn injuries. The employer is accused of failing to call 911 and neglecting to wash the worker at an available safety shower. More than 30 minutes after the injury occurred, the worker was taken to a local clinic in a coworker’s vehicle.
Major citations: Six willful violations were cited for failure to use available medical care; provide, require and train workers on protective clothing proper use; provide eye, face and hand protection; and provide hazard communication training. Citations also were issued for seven serious violations that included failure to perform a personal protective equipment assessment, correct an improperly guarded platform, and enclose live parts of electrical equipment. The company was subsequently placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“Failing to provide protective equipment and hazard communication training shows zero commitment to worker safety and health.” – Greg Baxter, acting regional administrator in Chicago
Company: SW Steel (USA) Inc.
Location: Baytown, TX (OSHA Region 6)
Business type: Steel manufacturer
Inspection trigger: Worker complaints
Event: Following several worker complaints, a safety inspection and a concurrently conducted inspection as part of OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting Program resulted in numerous alleged violations.
Major citations: Citations were issued for repeat violations that included failure to provide covers for open pits and floor holes, conduct inspections for lockout/tagout procedures, ensure readily available fire extinguishers and provide machine guarding. Serious violations included failure to guard open-sided platforms, adequately secure compressed gas cylinders and ensure the use of personal protective equipment. A variety of electrical hazards also were found and cited. The company was subsequently placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“This company has operated in a way that disregards the safety and health of its employees.” – John Hermanson, OSHA regional administrator in Dallas
Company: Boomerang Tube LLC
Location: Liberty, TX (OSHA Region 6)
Business type: Tube manufacturer
Inspection trigger: Worker complaint/worker injury
Event: During a five-month period, three workers were seriously injured. One was caught in an operating machine; one month after that, another worker was struck by a piece of steel and knocked into a concrete pit. Four months later, a worker was caught in machinery.
Major citations: Six willful violations were cited, included failure to repair a damaged under-hung crane, ensure the use of lockout/tagout and provide machine guarding. Citations for serious violations included failure to ensure a facility free of trip and fall hazards and ensure loads remain under the rated capacity of industrial trucks.
“This employer jeopardized the safety of its employees by failing to follow OSHA’s safety standards for energy control procedures and machine guarding. It is very unfortunate that these workers were so seriously injured when the causes should have been prevented.” – John Hermanson, OSHA regional administrator in Dallas
Company: Altura Concrete Inc., Nathil Corp., White Diamonds Properties LLC, and Blade Contracting Inc.
Location: Jersey City, NJ (OSHA Region 2)
Business type: Contractors
Inspection trigger: Not provided
Event: During an inspection, compliance officers observed construction workers without personal fall protection or a fall protection system on the fourth floor of a 20-story building.
Major citations: Altura and Nathil were concrete contractors for the foundation and superstructure. Both were cited for five willful violations including failure to protect workers from fall hazards. Nine serious citations were issued to the companies for violations including failure to provide personal protective equipment, failure to provide railings on stairs, and unprotected protruding rebar. General contractor White Diamonds Properties received citations for two willful violations involving failure to protect workers from fall hazards and for five serious violations that included improper storage of compressed gas cylinders and lack of drawings for shoring/reshoring onsite. Blade Contracting, a masonry contractor, was cited for three violations of protecting employees from fall hazards and scaffold use.
“A project of this magnitude clearly needs an aggressive injury and illness prevention plan in place to prevent falls and other hazards.” – Robert Kulick, OSHA regional administrator in New York
Company:Bridgford Foods Corp.
Location: Dallas (OSHA Region 6)
Business type: Frozen food producer
Inspection trigger: Not provided
Event: During an inspection, several alleged violations of noise and energized machine hazards were found.
Major Citations: Citations for six repeat violations were issued, including failure to provide electrical equipment hazard training, establish and maintain an audiometric testing program, and provide employee hearing protection training. Twenty serious violations included failure to provide guardrails on mixers, ovens and ice machines; lack of machine guarding; failure to develop energy control procedures for machinery with multiple energy sources; and not ensuring employees were trained on energy control procedures. The company was subsequently placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“Bridgford Foods has a history of failing to implement necessary safety and health programs to prevent the unexpected start-up of machines and prevent hearing loss.” – John Hermanson, OSHA regional administrator in Dallas