OSHA’s Top 10 most-cited violations for fiscal year 2017
A new entry emerged in the Top 10 list of OSHA’s most frequently cited violations for fiscal year 2017, joining the ranks of a rarely altered field.
Assessing the addition of Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503) at No. 9, Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, treated the matter with the same urgency reserved for the list’s usual suspects.
“Many of these violations were specifically related to training requirements and ensuring that a training program for each employee who may be exposed to fall hazards is established,” Kapust told Safety+Health. “Often, these violations occurred in the roofing, framing and residential modeling industries.
“We are concerned about the recent uptick in this category and urge employers to take the necessary measures to train employees on this competency.”
The top five violations mirrored those from FY 2016, as Fall Protection – General Requirements again ranked atop the list. Here, S+H presents the full list, the “penalty box” of the year’s largest fines and an exclusive interview with Kapust.
Most-cited violations, fiscal year 2017
The list of OSHA’s proposed monetary penalties in fiscal year 2017 comprises those 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 is gathered from OSHA enforcement press releases issued by federal OSHA between Oct. 1, 2016, and Sept. 30, 2017.
(Note: Dollar amounts may be reduced as part of a settlement agreement or litigation.)
Companies: Joon LLC (operating as Ajin USA), Alliance HR Inc. (operating as Alliance Total Solutions LLC) and Joynus Staffing Corp.
Location: Cusseta, AL (OSHA Region 4)
Business types: Auto parts supplier, staffing agencies
Inspection trigger: Worker fatality
Event: A worker was crushed to death while clearing a sensor fault in a robotic conveyor belt for a manufacturer that stamps metal parts for certain automobile manufacturers. The worker and three colleagues entered a robotic station when the robot suddenly restarted, trapping the worker inside the machine. OSHA alleges that Ajin USA failed to use energy control procedures to prevent machinery from starting during maintenance and servicing. The company also exposed employees to crushing and amputation hazards as a result of improper machine guarding and did not provide safety locks to isolate hazardous energy.
Major citations: In total, Joon LLC was cited for 23 willful, serious and other-than-serious violations, including 19 egregious instance-by-instance willful violations. OSHA also cited staffing agencies Alliance HR and Joynus Staffing for two serious violations apiece.
“This senseless tragedy could have been prevented if [the victim’s] employers had followed proper safety precautions.” – David Michaels, former OSHA administrator
Company: Atlantic Drain Service Co., Inc.
Location: Boston (OSHA Region 1)
Business type: Drain cleaning
Inspection trigger: Two worker fatalities
Event: Two workers drowned after a trench collapsed, breaking an adjacent fire hydrant line and instantly flooding the trench. An investigation determined that the employer did not provide basic safeguards against collapse or offer employee training for recognizing and avoiding cave-in and other hazards associated with trenching and excavation work. OSHA previously cited Atlantic Drain Service worksites for similar hazards in 2007 and 2012.
Major citations: In total, Atlantic Drain Service was cited for 18 serious, willful, repeat and other-than-serious violations.
“The deaths of these two men could have and should have been prevented. Their employer, which previously had been cited by OSHA for the same hazardous conditions, knew what safeguards were needed to protect its employees but chose to ignore that responsibility.” – Galen Blanton, OSHA New England regional administrator
Company: Great White Construction Inc.
Location: St. Augustine, FL (OSHA Region 4)
Business type: Construction
Inspection trigger: Planned inspection
Event: An inspector reported witnessing employees removing shingles and plywood sheeting from the roof of a multistory residential building without using proper fall protection. The workers’ harnesses were not tied off to the rope grabs and roof anchors. OSHA launched a second inspection immediately after and observed other employees operating under similar conditions at a nearby Great White worksite.
Major citations: Great White Construction was cited for 11 willful citations for failure to protect employees from fall hazards. The company also was cited for three repeat violations for failure to ensure employees wore eye protection while using nail guns and exposing employees to fall hazards when using ladders for roof access. OSHA placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“In the past five years, Great White Construction’s series of willful, serious and repeat violations has demonstrated indifference toward the safety of their employees. The company allowed their employees to work without fall protection and made no reasonable effort to eliminate the hazard.” – Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA regional administrator in Atlanta
Company: Arrow Plumbing LLC
Location: Blue Springs, MO (OSHA Region 7)
Business type: Plumbing
Inspection trigger: Worker fatality
Event: Inspectors determined that a worker was operating in an unprotected trench only one month after another worker died when a trench collapsed under similar conditions. OSHA found that, in both cases, Arrow Plumbing did not provide basic safeguards to prevent a trench collapse and failed to train employees to recognize and avoid cave-in and related hazards.
Major citations: Arrow Plumbing was cited for six willful and eight serious violations.
“We call on all employers involved in excavation work to review their safety procedures and to ensure that all workers are properly protected and trained on the job.” – Kim Stille, OSHA regional administrator in Kansas City, MO
Company: Amsted Rail Co. Inc.
Location: Groveport, OH (OSHA Region 5)
Business type: Steel freight component manufacturer
Inspection trigger: Worker injury
Event: An employee suffered a crushed leg after becoming caught in a core baker machine while performing maintenance. A follow-up investigation showed numerous machine safety violations, including failure to lock out machinery during servicing. Less than two months later, OSHA opened a second investigation after finding four incidents of workers exposed to silica at amounts greater than the permissible exposure limit.
Major citations: Amsted Rail Co. was cited for six repeat, 19 serious and five other-than-serious violations over the two inspections. OSHA placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“Companies must ensure their workers are trained in proper machine safety procedures and provide the necessary personal protective equipment to prevent injuries and illness on the job. Continuous monitoring of facilities and procedures are important components of an effective safety and health program.” – Dorothy Dougherty, former OSHA deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health
Company: Autoneum North America Inc.
Location: Oregon, OH (OSHA Region 5)
Business type: Auto insulation manufacturer
Inspection trigger: Worker amputation
Event: A worker’s arm became caught while feeding waste materials into a shredding machine, resulting in the amputation of the worker’s right hand and wrist, as well as part of the forearm. OSHA cited the company for inadequate machine safety procedures, including failure to lock out equipment to prevent unintentional energization and exposing employees to struck-by hazards from machine components.
Major citations: Autoneum North America was cited for three willful and two repeated violations.
“This incident illustrates why companies must evaluate machine safety procedures to ensure they are adequate and effective in protecting workers from injuries on the job. In addition to being the law and the right thing to do, safe workplaces are an important component in supporting and sustaining job growth in America.” – Dorothy Dougherty, former OSHA deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health
Company: Milark Industries Inc.
Location: Mansfield, OH (OSHA Region 5)
Business type: Automobile, motorcycle and appliance part manufacturer
Inspection trigger: Worker amputation and machine-related injuries
Event: OSHA found that a lack of adequate machine safeguarding contributed to various injuries, including those to a temporary worker who suffered partial amputation to two fingers on his left hand on his first day of work. Violations included failure to lock out robotic welding cells and tube bender and provide training for lockout/tagout; bypassing safety interlocks to maintain production rate; and bypassing safety devices during maintenance. OSHA has inspected Milark Industries 10 times since 2007.
Major citations: Milark Industries was cited for three willful egregious, one willful and three serious violations. The company was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“Milark Industries continues to create an environment where employees are allowed to bypass machine safety procedures, and are threatened to be disciplined if they don’t meet the production quotas. By doing so, the company is creating an unacceptable culture of risk and getting people hurt on the job.” – Kim Nelson, OSHA area director in Toledo, OH
Company: Big Tex Trailer Manufacturing Inc. (operates as CM Truck Beds)
Location: Kingston, OK (OSHA Region 6)
Business type: Truck bed manufacturer
Inspection trigger: Complaint
Event: OSHA inspectors found that Big Tex workers involved in spray painting and power coating operations did not undergo required medical evaluation and respirator fit testing. The company also repeatedly failed to proof test chain slings and offer welding protection.
Major citations: CM Truck Beds was cited for 20 serious, one willful and three repeated violations.
“CM Truck Beds has created an environment where workers may be seriously injured or killed, as the scope of these violations clearly shows.” – David Bates, OSHA area director in Oklahoma City
Company: Prinz Grain & Feed Inc.
Location: West Point, NE (OSHA Region 7)
Business type: Animal feed
Inspection trigger: Worker fatality
Event: A grain bin collapsed as a maintenance employee cleared crusted corn from the sides, engulfing the worker in hundreds of pounds of grain. He was rescued by emergency crews but died two days later. OSHA found that Prinz Grain & Feed failed to perform a number of tasks, including issuing confined space permits for entry into grain bins and pits; implementing lockout/tagout procedures; and training workers in confined space entry, grain handling hazards and OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard.
Major citations: Prinz Grain & Feed was cited for three willful, 15 serious and two other-than-serious violations. OSHA placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“An ‘engulfment’ often happens when ‘bridged’ grain and vertical piles of stored grain collapse unexpectedly, as in this tragic case. The density, weight and unpredictable behavior of flowing grains make it nearly impossible for workers to rescue themselves without help. In more than 60 percent of grain engulfments, workers suffer fatal injuries. OSHA urges employers and workers in this hazardous industry to review and implement OSHA’s grain-handling standards to prevent injuries and loss of lives.” – Kim Stille, OSHA regional administrator in Kansas City, MO
Company: BWAY Corp.
Location: Chicago (OSHA Region 5)
Business type: Manufacturer of rigid metal, plastic and hybrid containers
Inspection trigger: Worker injuries
Event: OSHA investigated four separate reports of employee injuries prompted by inadequate machine safety procedures, including failure to train in lockout/tagout procedures and providing insufficient machine guarding on a mechanical power press, belts and pulleys, and chains and sprockets. Three workers suffered amputations stemming from unguarded chain and sprocket assembly. Another worker suffered two broken bones when machinery crushed his hand. According to OSHA, 15 workers at the plant have suffered amputations in the past five years.
Major citations: BWAY Corp. was cited for five repeated and five serious safety violations of machine safety procedures. The company was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
Q & A with OSHA's Patrick Kapust
Preliminary data for OSHA’s Top 10 most cited violations for fiscal year 2017 was announced Sept. 26 at the National Safety Council Congress & Expo in Indianapolis. That day, Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, sat down with Safety+Health Associate Editor Kevin Druley to talk about the list – and how several recent initiatives have helped the agency track and target the most frequently cited violations.
Safety+Health: What’s the most important message that you’d like to send to employers regarding the Top 10?
Patrick Kapust: The Top 10 is a great place for the employer to start if they don’t know where to start. The list identifies some of the major hazards out there. Take that list and see how it may apply to your workplace. It covers a broad range, from fall protection, machine guarding, powered industrial trucks – these are common themes in a workplace, particularly a manufacturing or construction workplace. It offers you a tool to start that find-and-fix program, so that you are able to readily identify the hazards and turn around and correct them quickly.
If you noticed in the Top 10, many of these standards have training requirements associated with them. And, as we were talking [during the Top 10 presentation] about some of the deficiencies that we were finding, the training aspect was one of the ones that I brought up quite frequently. Important questions to ask are, “What’s happening with my training programs? Are they covering what they should?” Hazard Communication, Respiratory Protection, Lockout/Tagout, Powered Industrial Trucks – all of those require specific training programs. Look at your programs in these areas, because many of the deficiencies we find involve training.
S+H: You addressed the growth of the Fall Prevention Campaign last year. Is OSHA pleased with the progress of the campaign? Are there plans to launch campaigns to address other safety issues that are part of the Top 10?
Kapust: We are very pleased with the progress of the campaign. We think that this cooperative effort has been one of OSHA’s most successful outreaches to date. It’s estimated that we have reached out to more than 5 million workers through the National Fall Prevention Stand-Down since this project began, as well as countless others who didn’t register on the website. The stand-down does ask construction contractors and their employees to take some time from their workday to discuss, reflect and talk about ways to implement and improve fall protection measures on the job, as well as other construction safety and health topics. Many of those topics are found in the Top 10, so those are being covered through these discussions.
Also, many stand-downs are done for particular topics, such as personal protective equipment, and a safety and health management system – implementing that into the workplace. So the campaign has triggered other events, and it’s a convenient, easy mechanism to get the message across. We are looking at other ways to expand on that impact using other topics, where appropriate. It’s just that falls … it is a common hazard many workers are exposed to.
S+H: If an employer receives a visit from an OSHA inspector, what are some things that it can do to help the process go smoothly?
Kapust: Well, one thing the employer can do first is go to our website and become familiar with OSHA’s inspection process. We have fact sheets on OSHA inspections available on our website. But if a compliance officer shows up, I can’t emphasize this enough: Ask questions. There basically are three phases of an OSHA inspection: the opening conference, the walk-around and the closing conference.
During the opening conference, the compliance officer will tell the employer what the scope of the inspection is going to be and what they’re going to cover. If it’s a complaint, the certified safety and health official will provide a list of the alleged hazards. So, you’ll be able to look through that. If it’s a programmed inspection under an emphasis program, the compliance officer will state that this is a programmed inspection and it is under an emphasis program such as amputations. So he or she will be looking for amputation-type hazards as delineated in that national emphasis program. If the employer has questions about the program, ask them.
The next phase of the inspection is the walk-around. During this phase of the inspection, the CSHO will walk around the workplace and observe the conditions in order to address any hazards. The CSHO may take measurements and will talk to employees and ask questions as appropriate. While you’re walking around with the compliance officer – and I encourage you to accompany the CSHO – when the CSHO is addressing hazards, answer any questions he or she may have, but also ask questions if you need to: “What can I do to abate this? How do I correct this condition?” That way, you’ll get the insight about abatement from the CSHO while he or she is there, so at least you have a starting point before you even have the closing conference. Take advantage of that resource while he or she at your worksite. And that’s the same thing with health hazards.
When our industrial hygienist CSHOs go out to the workplace, part of their walk-around is to conduct air or noise sampling to investigate any health concerns that may be in the workplace, such as lead or noise. While they’re sampling, ask them about controls – “What controls or ventilation would be effective?” They can offer recommendations on methods that have worked in in the past. No, they can’t design or fix it for you, but they can give you some ideas, because the goal is to assure that the workplace is safe. That’s why the CSHO is there.
The last phase of the inspection is the closing conference. The CSHO will discuss with you what the observed violations were and how long you have to correct them. The CSHO also will explain what your rights and responsibilities are after the inspection and if you are receiving any citations. This is another opportunity to ask questions on the process and what you may need to do to comply.
S+H: What would you say to employers that may recognize they need compliance assistance but are reluctant to contact OSHA?
Kapust: OSHA does have an onsite consultation program that offers free and confidential safety and occupational health advice to small and medium-sized businesses nationwide. The consultants help employers identify workplace hazards and provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, as well as help in establishing an injury and illness program. They do kind of the same thing that a CSHO would do – except it’s not under an enforcement umbrella – and we keep those two programs separate. Consultation is state-run, and its priorities are smaller employers in high-hazard industries. So, I encourage employers to go that route.
Also, you can call your local OSHA area office. Not all OSHA offices have compliance assistance specialists, but some do. Where they do have them, they are able to do things such as – if you’re part of an industry group – conduct training or give presentations.
Regardless of whether the office has a compliance assistance specialist or not, there are folks there to answer questions, and many times that will be a compliance officer. So you can ask them questions over the telephone. You don’t have to give your name, you don’t have to give your company name or address. You can say, “Hey, I have this question,” and you remain anonymous. We don’t trace calls and try to figure out who’s calling. So, I’d encourage employers, if you have a question, take the time to call the area office and see what help it can provide.
Infographic: OSHA's Top 10 list summarized in one image
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