Penalty Box

The list of OSHA’s proposed monetary penalties in fiscal year 2011 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, 2010, and Sept. 30, 2011. Dollar amounts may be reduced as part of a settlement or litigation.

$1.94 million
Company: Phenix Lumber Co.
Location: Phenix City, AL (OSHA Region 4)
Business type: Planer mill
Inspection trigger: Complaints, employee injury
Event: Phenix Lumber Co. was accused of having a work environment that exposed employees to amputation hazards while maintaining, cleaning and clearing machinery jams. During an inspection following a complaint of one worker whose finger was partially amputated while clearing unlocked machinery, OSHA learned of another employee who suffered a hand injury while working on unguarded machinery.
Major citations: Thirteen willful violations were issued for allegations of failure to shut down and lock out 13 pieces of machinery before requiring employees to clear jams on them; 11 willful violations were related to failure to train 11 employees on these procedures. Three additional willful violations were related to fall hazards, failure to issue locks and failure to establish lockout/tagout procedures. Each willful violation carried the maximum fine of $70,000. One repeat and two serious violations were found related to guarding procedures.

“This situation reflects a systemic problem with the way this company approaches safety and demonstrates an egregious disregard for workers’ safety and health.” – David Michaels, OSHA administrator

$1.25 million
Company: AMD Industries Inc.
Location: Cicero, IL (OSHA Region 5)
Business type: Retail and display promotions
Inspection trigger: Environmental Protection Agency referral
Event: In 2002, AMD Industries commissioned a safety audit of its facility and found materials containing asbestos on boilers, heating units and piping. The company began removing the asbestos in November 2010 by using in-house, untrained workers. EPA later learned of the work.
Major citations: The company received 15 willful citations totaling $945,000 for failure to provide proper training, protective clothing and equipment to workers. Four willful citations were issued for alleged failure to inform workers of the location and quantity of the asbestos, monitor airborne asbestos, use appropriate vacuums and methods to control the dust, and properly and quickly dispose of the asbestos-contaminated waste. Eight serious citations were issued for failure to implement a respirator protection program or use engineering controls, among other things.

“Asbestos exposure can be deadly. … This employer did not provide protective respirators or even warn the workers of the risk to their health from removing the material.” – David Michaels, OSHA administrator

$1.23 million
Company: Black Mag LLC
Location: Colebrook, NH (OSHA Region 1)
Business type: Gun powder manufacturer
Inspection trigger: Explosion, employee deaths
Event: A May 14 explosion killed two workers who had been manufacturing a gun powder substitute. The workers – on the job for a month – were hand-feeding powder into operating equipment with no protective controls. OSHA also accused the employer of failure to implement remote-start procedures, isolate operating stations, establish safe distancing, and erect barriers or shielding.
Major citations: Four egregious willful penalties were issued for failure to train each of the four workers involved in the manufacturing. Twelve willful citations were issued for allegations including failure to provide adequate personal protective equipment and identify explosion hazards in the company’s operating procedures. A total of 36 serious citations were issued for failure to establish and implement an emergency action plan; training workers in electrical safety-related work; addressing hazards associated with exit routes; and addressing hazards associated with handling, storing and transporting explosives.

“Even after a prior incident in which a worker was seriously injured, and multiple warnings from its business partners and a former employee, this employer still decided against implementing safety measures.” – David Michaels, OSHA administrator

Company: PJ Trailers Manufacturing Co. Inc.
Location: Sumner, TX (OSHA Region 6)
Business type: Manufacturer
Inspection trigger: Complaint
Event: A complaint alleged PJ Trailers Manufacturing and Delco Trailers – which are commonly owned, have the same president and management, share a worksite, and have integrated operations – did not protect workers from rotating machinery parts and unsafe levels of toxic fumes and noise.
Major citations: The company received seven willful violations for allegations that included failure to provide fall protection, adequate machine guarding and proper eye protection, and failure to establish and maintain an audiometric testing program. The company also received 26 serious violations for failure to provide fall protection and electrical hazard training, and failure to prevent exposure to welding fumes, among other allegations. Nine repeat violations were issued; those included failure to have all necessary lockout/tagout procedures in place and failure to ensure medical evaluations were completed to determine employees’ ability to use respirators.

“Willful and repeat citations, as well as significant penalties, reflect the fact that management knew workers were exposed to dangerous conditions yet failed to provide them with basic safety protections.” – David Michaels, OSHA administrator

Company: Bostik Inc.
Location: Middleton, MA (OSHA Region 1)
Business type: Chemical plant
Inspection trigger: Explosion
Event: Four workers were injured on March 13 when a transfer line valve was left open and released flammable acetone vapors, which ignited from an undetermined source and caused an explosion.
Major citations: Bostik Inc. was issued nine willful citations totaling $630,000 for several allegations, including having incomplete process safety information for the salvation process and not addressing previous incidents in the employer’s analysis of hazards related to the process. Forty-one serious citations were issued for an incomplete and deficient emergency response plan, inadequate employee training on firefighting, obstructed exits, and electrical hazards.

“Bostik knew … that aspects of its [process safety management] program were incomplete or inadequate, and misclassified electrical equipment was in use. The company did not take adequate steps to address those conditions.” – Jeffrey A. Erskine, area director for northeastern Massachusetts

Company: WRR Environmental Services Co.
Location: Eau Claire, WI (OSHA Region 5)
Business type: Hazardous waste management
Inspection trigger: Explosion
Event: On June 29, 2010, flammable vapors in a solvent sludge feed tank were ignited by an unidentified source, causing the tank’s roof to blow off and its contents to ignite. Another nearby tank also exploded. No injuries occurred, but several employees had been working in the area near the blast site shortly before the explosion. Another explosion and fire in 2007 destroyed most of the facility, including the solvent sludge recycling process.
Major citations: WRR Environmental Services Co. received 14 willful citations for allegations of disregarding elements of the Process Safety Management Standard, including failure to implement process hazard analyses, operating procedures and trainings; failure to perform pre-startup safety reviews, inspections and tests; and failure to conduct incident investigations. The company also received one serious citation for alleged deficiencies in its emergency action plan.

“Even after WRR Environmental Services experienced a devastating fire that destroyed the facility in 2007, the company still failed to implement an adequate program to ensure safe operating conditions.” – David Michaels, OSHA administrator

Company: Hillsdale Elevator Co.
Location: Geneseo, IL, and Annawan, IL (OSHA Region 5)
Business type: Grain elevator
Inspection trigger: Employee death
Event: A 49-year-old employee was killed when engulfed by corn in a storage bin at the Geneseo facility. A subsequent inspection of the company’s Annawan facility yielded additional alleged violations.
Major citations: Seventeen willful citations totaling $714,000 were issued for allegations that included eight instances of directing workers to enter workspaces where grain built up on the sides could fall and bury them. Other violations included failure to take measures such as shutting down or locking out mechanical equipment to prevent them from endangering employees. The company also received five serious citations for alleged violations of the Grain Handling and Lockout/Tagout Standards.

Company: Republic Engineered Products Inc.
Location: Lorain, OH (OSHA Region 5)
Business type: Steel manufacturer
Inspection trigger: Employee injury
Event: In November 2010, a worker broke his pelvis after falling 9 feet from a coil transfer car in a bar mill at the Lorain facility. Since 1990, the Lorain facility has been inspected 25 times and received 76 violations in addition to the most recent citations.
Major citations: Seven willful violations were cited, including exposing employees to falls and failure to affix lockout/tagout devices. Three additional repeat violations were issued related to lockout/tagout. The facility was cited in 2010 for another incident, and the company received 13 violations and was fined $143,000.

Company: Haasbach LLC
Location: Mount Carroll, IL (OSHA Region 5)
Business type: Grain elevator
Inspection trigger: Employee deaths
Event: Two employees, 14 and 19 years old, were killed in July 2010 when they became entrapped by more than 30 feet of corn. A 20-year-old worker also was seriously injured. At the time of the incident, all three workers had been “walking down the corn,” which entails walking on the top of the grain pile to make it flow while machinery evacuates the grain.
Major citations: Haasbach received 11 willful citations for failure to provide body harnesses and lifelines to prevent engulfment, not training workers on moving grain hazards, and not shutting down equipment before workers entered the bin. Twelve serious citations were issued for alleged violations of several standards, including Grain Handling and Lockout/Tagout.

Company: Parker Hannifin Corp.
Location: Batesville, MS (OSHA Region 4)
Business type: Manufacturer
Inspection trigger: Not provided
Event: Parker Hannifin owns about 170 facilities throughout the country; an inspection that began in November 2010 at its Batesville plant uncovered several alleged violations.
Major citations: Based on previous inspections at other company locations, Parker Hannifin received 16 repeat citations for alleged violations related to lockout/tagout, blockage of exit doors, lack of machine guarding, and a lack of hazardous warning labels on tanks containing hazardous substances. Seventeen serious citations were issued for struck-by hazards, unapproved electrical equipment, lack of exit signage and not requiring employees to wear safety goggles during welding activities.

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