$441,500 OSHA Fines for Willful, Repeat, and Serious Safety Violations

December 10, 2007

OSHA has proposed $441,500 in fines against Bath Iron Works (BIW) for 59 alleged repeat, willful, and serious violations of safety and health standards at its Bath, Maine, shipyard. The shipbuilder was cited as the result of an inspection opened June 4, 2007, under an OSHA program that targets inspections to workplaces with higher-than-average injury and illness rates.

The citations encompass mechanical, electrical, chemical, fire, fall and exit access hazards, several of which had been cited on previous OSHA inspections. Left uncorrected, these conditions expose employees to the hazards of lacerations, impalement, amputation, fire, falls, electrocution, and crushing injuries.

"This recurrence of hazards is disturbing and must be addressed," said Marthe Kent, OSHA regional administrator for New England. "Everyone at Bath Iron Works must focus seriously on safety and health and take effective, ongoing action to identify, address, and eliminate workplace hazards."

OSHA issued BIW 12 repeat citations, with $250,500 in proposed fines, for impalement hazards from unguarded studs and angle irons being attached to bulkheads and decks of newly constructed ship modules; unguarded work platforms; defective powered industrial trucks; inadequately guarded grinders; ungrounded electrical equipment; non-waterproof electrical boxes used in wet environments; missing toeboards on scaffolds; and obstructed aisles and passageways. OSHA had cited BIW for similar hazards in September 2005.

Forty-six serious citations, with $136,000 in fines, were issued for a variety of fall, exit access, machine guarding, electrical, fire, crane, and storage hazards. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA also issued BIW one willful citation, with a $55,000 fine, for 30 unguarded fan blades. A willful violation is one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

OSHA Proposes More Than $113,000 in Penalties Following Inspection of Tungsten Carbide Plant

OSHA has proposed fines totaling $113,200 for 27 safety and health violations that endangered employees at TDY Industries Inc.'s ATI Alldyne plant in Gurley, Ala.

"The conditions that OSHA found at the Gurley plant are unacceptable because they put the safety of employees at risk from fire hazards and exposure to cobalt dust," said Roberto Sanchez, director of OSHA's Birmingham Area Office. "We already had warned management about the dangers of cobalt dust at the company's Huntsville, Ala., facility. Unfortunately, they chose not to make the needed corrections."

OSHA inspectors found that the company, which produces tungsten carbide products, failed to follow the agency's standards when using the flammable solvent heptane in its manufacturing process. Inspectors found 21 serious violations and one other-than-serious safety violation, for a total of $82,350 in proposed penalties.

One repeat health violation, with a penalty of $25,000, was proposed against the company for allowing employees to be exposed to unacceptably high airborne concentrations of cobalt dust. OSHA also cited ATI Alldyne, with proposed penalties totaling $5,850, for three serious violations related to the storage of materials and failure to conduct annual employee audiograms, and one other-than-serious health violation related to bloodborne pathogens.

OSHA Fines Two New Mexico Construction Contractors Following Asbestos Exposure Inspection

OSHA has cited Maloy Construction Inc., a general construction company, and Deerfield Corp., a plumbing and construction company, both based in Albuquerque, N.M., with 17 safety violations for asbestos exposure at a hospital construction site in Mescalero.

OSHA's district office in El Paso, Texas, began an inspection June 9 when it received a complaint alleging that employees were removing insulation and other materials containing asbestos from a hospital boiler room without using appropriate protective clothing and a protective enclosure to contain the airborne asbestos.

"The OSHA inspection revealed that the two companies failed to take appropriate action to protect their employees," said Rich Tapio, OSHA's area director in Lubbock, Texas. "Employers must remain committed to keeping the workplace safe and healthful at all times."

OSHA cited Maloy Construction, proposing $75,600 in fines, for one alleged willful and four alleged serious violations. The willful violation was for failing to assure that Deerfield, the subcontractor, was in compliance with OSHA's asbestos standards. The serious violations include failing to inform other employees in the area of the asbestos work, assessing the exposure, and designating and containing the asbestos materials.

OSHA cited Deerfield, with $81,900 in proposed fines, for three alleged willful and nine alleged serious violations of its asbestos standards. The willful violations were for failing to regulate the asbestos area, assess the initial exposure, and provide protective equipment. The serious violations include failing to launder contaminated clothing, train employees on asbestos removal, label containers for waste, and provide a competent person to properly supervise the work area.

A willful violation is one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. A serious violation exists when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

Contractor Faces Nearly $100,000 in OSHA Fines for Asbestos Hazards at Old Genesee Hospital


As a result, the employer, Gordon-Smith Contracting Inc., was cited for 10 alleged willful and serious violations of OSHA asbestos and respiratory protection standards and faces a total of $99,925 in proposed fines.

Gordon-Smith employees were required to remove ceiling tiles and other materials that were embedded in or adjacent to asbestos-containing fireproofing without proper safeguards. Specifically, wet methods or wetting agents were not used to control asbestos exposures, the employees were not supplied with approved respirators, and they had not been trained in asbestos removal.

"This employer knows these safeguards are required to protect employees against asbestos exposure yet elected to not provide them," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "Gordon-Smith's failure to do so placed its employees' health at serious risk. Asbestos is a subtle and insidious hazard since its effects can accumulate over time, leading to serious, disabling, and fatal diseases of the lungs and other organs."

The company consequently was issued three willful citations, accounting for $87,000 of the proposed fines, for these conditions. A willful violation is one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Seven serious citations, carrying $12,925 in proposed fines, were issued to the company for other conditions, including not ensuring that each employee wore the appropriate respiratory, hand and head protection; not immediately mending or replacing ripped or torn protective worksuits; no written respirator program; no qualified administrator for a respirator program; and not informing employees of the results of asbestos monitoring. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Manufacturer Faces $382,500 in OSHA Fines for Uncorrected and Other Safety and Health Hazards

Gen-Cap Industries Inc., a Bronx, N.Y., manufacturer of fireproof doors, faces a total of $382,500 in proposed fines from OSHA for 76 alleged safety and health violations at its 913 Edgewater Road plant, including 14 instances of failing to correct hazards cited in previous OSHA inspections.

"Left uncorrected, this mixture of new, ongoing, and uncorrected hazards exposes employees to potential injury or death from fire, explosion, laceration, amputation, electrocution, chemical burns, hearing loss, and crushing," said Diana Cortez, director of OSHA's area office in Tarrytown, N.Y., which conducted the inspections. "The sizable fines proposed here reflect the scope and seriousness of these conditions and the need for them to be promptly and effectively addressed."

OSHA opened follow-up inspections in May 2007 to verify correction of hazards cited in November 2004, when the plant operated as JGB LLC, doing business as General Fireproof Doors. As a result of its latest inspections, OSHA issued the company:

  • Fourteen notices for failure to abate, with $288,000 in proposed fines, for failing to develop a program and supply training and equipment to ensure that machines' power sources were shut down and locked out to prevent their accidental startup during maintenance; unguarded press brakes and welding machines; no eyewash facilities where required; no fire extinguisher training; no shielding on a spot welding machine to minimize burn hazards; and no hazard communication program and training. The plant was supposed to have corrected these hazards but did not do so.
  • Thirteen repeat citations, with $27,600 in fines, for no hearing conservation program; sprinklers not kept free of paint deposits; failure to clean accumulated combustible debris; improper disposal of combustible material; failure to enforce the use of eye, face, and foot protection; unsanitary bathrooms and toilets; no lead cleaning schedule; an unprotected electrical outlet; and unguarded grinders. The plant had been cited for substantially similar hazards in 2004.
  • Forty-nine serious citations, with $66,900 in fines, for blocked, unmarked, or unilluminated exits; blocked fire extinguisher access; no fire extinguisher for a battery charging area; a defective powered industrial truck; crane safety defects; numerous instances of unguarded machinery; a variety of electrical hazards; unsecured compressed gas cylinders; unbonded containers of flammables; uncleaned paint spray booth walls; defective respirators; inadequate personal protective equipment training and use; no respirator program; and no welding shield.

Gen-Cap has until December 12 to request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA's area director or to contest these citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA Announces Workplace Safety Violations Against Fields Excavating Inc.

OSHA has proposed $117,000 in fines against Fields Excavating Inc. of Kitts Hill, Ohio, for alleged willful violations of federal workplace safety standards.

As a result of an inspection, OSHA issued citations for three willful violations alleging the company failed to provide proper cave-in protection to employees working in a trench that was 10-feet deep, failed to keep excavated material at least two feet from the edge of the trench, and failed to properly install trench shields.

"Injuries, fatalities, and cave-ins at excavation sites are preventable," said Richard Gilgrist, OSHA's area director in Cincinnati. "Employers must remain dedicated to keeping the workplace safe and healthful or face intense OSHA scrutiny."

OSHA has inspected Fields Excavating Inc. 11 times since 1999, with the company receiving numerous citations from past inspections. Fields Excavating, which employs 40 people, specializes in trenching and excavation operations and water and sewer construction in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

OSHA Identifies 21 Workplace Safety Violations at Tubular Products' Alabama Plant

Inspectors with OSHA have identified 21 safety violations at Tubular Products Co.'s steel tubing manufacturing facility in Birmingham, Ala.

"OSHA is proposing $44,450 in penalties against the plant for jeopardizing the safety of Tubular Products' 150 employees," said Roberto Sanchez, director of OSHA's Birmingham Area Office.

The inspection was performed as part of OSHA's Site-Specific Targeting program. The program directs enforcement resources to workplaces where the highest rates of injuries and illness have occurred based on data received from the prior year's OSHA Data Initiative survey.

OSHA inspectors found 20 serious safety violations, including a number of instances where machine guards were not installed properly or were missing, which allowed employees to be caught and hurt by mechanical equipment. Fall hazards, electrical hazards, and tripping hazards also were found at the manufacturing facility. Additionally, OSHA assessed one other-than-serious safety violation for the company's failure to properly label and identify chemicals used in the workplace.

Toys Contaminated With Toxic Chemicals

Working with environmental health groups across the country, the Ecology Center led the development of the site to inform consumers about products they will be purchasing this holiday season. Parents and other holiday shoppers can now easily search by product name, brand, or toy type to learn how the products rate in terms of harmful chemical content.

"The government is not testing for toxic chemicals in toys, and too many manufacturers are not self-regulating, so we created the nation's first toy database to help inform and empower consumers," said Tracey Easthope, MPH, director of the Ecology Center's Environmental Health Project. "Ultimately, consumers need to compel the federal government and toy manufacturers to eliminate dangerous chemicals from toys."

Researchers chose to test these particular chemicals because they have been identified by regulatory agencies as problematic, and because of their association with reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, hormone problems, and cancer and because they are found in children's products. Babies and young children are the most vulnerable because their brains and bodies are still developing and they frequently put toys in their mouths. The testing was conducted with a screening technology—the X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer—which identifies elemental composition of materials on the surface of products.

"Toxic chemicals have no place in children's toys, period," said Ted Schettler, MD, science director at the Science and Environmental Health Network. "Even low-level toxic chemical exposures can have lifelong impacts. Getting toxic chemicals out of children's toys is a moral and medical imperative."

HealthyToys.org tested 1,200 children's products and more than 3,000 components of those products.  

Following are highlights of the HealthyToys.org findings:

  • Lead—When children are exposed to lead, the developmental and nervous system consequences are irreversible. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended a level of 40 parts per million (ppm) of lead as the maximum that should be allowed in children's products. Nevertheless, there are no federal regulations for lead in vinyl, plastic toys, or children's jewelry. The only existing standard is for lead in paint. HealthyToys.org found lead in 35% of products tested; 17% of the products had levels above the 600 ppm. The federal recall standard for lead paint is 600 ppm. The testing detected more than 6,700 ppm in Dollar Store animal figurines; 3,056 ppm in a Hannah Montana Pop Star Card Pack; and 1,700 ppm lead in a pair of Circo baby shoes.
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC / Vinyl)—HealthyToys.org determined products were made with PVC plastic by measuring their chlorine content. PVC is a problematic plastic from an environmental health perspective because it creates major hazards throughout its life cycle and contains additives that can be dangerous to human health. Phthalates are chemicals that are very commonly added to PVC to make it soft and flexible; however, they can leach out of the plastic. Exposure to phthalates is linked to birth defects of the genitals and altered levels of reproductive hormones in baby boys. There are currently no federal regulations limiting phthalates in children's products. California recently passed a ban of several phthalates in children's products, and Europe has restricted the use of phthalates in children's toys and child care items. 47% of toys (excluding jewelry) tested by HealthyToys.org were PVC.
  • Cadmium—Cadmium is a heavy metal that is used in coatings and pigments in plastic and paint. It is a known human carcinogen and exposure can cause adverse effects on the kidneys, lungs, liver, and testes. Currently, there are no mandatory restrictions on cadmium in children's products in the United States. HealthyToys.org found cadmium at levels greater than 100 ppm in 2.9% of products—22 of the 764 products tested for cadmium–including painted toys, PVC toys, backpacks, lunch boxes, and bibs.
  • Arsenic—Arsenic is a heavy metal that can be present in both organic and inorganic molecules. It is not clear why arsenic is in children's products, though it may be used in textiles and plastics in dyes. Arsenic was detected at levels greater than 100 ppm in 2.2% (17 out of 764) products tested for arsenic.

HealthyToys.org also tested toys for mercury, bromine, chromium, tin, and antimony—chemicals that have all been linked to health problems and have been subject to either regulatory restrictions or voluntary limits set by industry associations or third-party environmental organizations.

"With all of the toy recalls, it is becoming increasingly difficult to shop for children," said Alexandra Zissu, coauthor of The Complete Organic Pregnancy and mother of a 22-month-old girl. "HealthyToys.org eliminates fear of the unknown and allows parents to make better decisions about the products we're buying."

The good news is that safe toys are possible; 28% of the products tested did not contain any lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, or PVC, including many made in China. Examples of healthier toys include: Amazing Animals Hippo by Fisher-Price (made in China); Caterpillar Grasping Toy by Melissa and Doug (made in Vietnam); and B.R. Bruin Stacking Cups (made in China).

These results show that manufacturers can make toys free of unnecessary toxic chemicals. HealthyToys.org provides specific guidelines for how to petition federal and state government agencies and toy manufacturers to urge them to phase out toxic chemicals from toys immediately.

With millions of toys on the market, it was impossible to test them all; however, visitors to HealthyToys.org can nominate other products to be tested. The most commonly requested items will be tested each week leading up to the holidays.

Michigan is critical to the national debate on toxic chemicals; several bills are pending in the Michigan Legislature that would phase-out specific toxicants, and Congressman John Dingell chairs the Congressional Committee charged with overseeing chemical regulation. The Michigan Legislature is moving a package of legislation (HB4132 & 4399; SB 174) that penalizes retailers for selling children's products with lead levels exceeding the federal recall limits of 600 ppm.

"That's a good start, but it's not just children's products, and it's not just lead that are problematic," said Mike Shriberg, Ph.D., Policy Director for the Ecology Center. "Michigan Legislators need to take immediate, aggressive action to protect our children from all hazardous chemicals."

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