OSHA has issued citations against U.S. Bricks Inc., doing business as Hanson Bricks in Elgin, Texas, for alleged violations of safety and health standards. Proposed penalties total $55,000.
OSHA's citations alleged 17 serious violations and one other-than-serious violation following an investigation that began Oct. 11. The agency received a complaint after an employee had his arm caught in a conveyor belt during maintenance operations at the company's facility on 506 Highway 290.
"U.S. Bricks did not have an effective lockout/tag-out procedure," said Eric Harbin, OSHA's Austin area office director. "If the company had followed OSHA's safeguards to prevent an unexpected release of energy to machines, this accident may well have been avoided."
Alleged serious violations included failure to: ensure machines are locked out during positioning operations; provide adequate machine guarding for conveyor pulleys; protect employees from electrical hazards; train employees in the use of hazardous chemicals; identify respiratory hazards, and ensure workers are trained to administer first aid in emergency situations.
A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The other-than-serious citation was issued for failure to train and certify forklift operators.
U.S. Bricks is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. The company employs approximately 1,500 people nationwide, about 60 work in Elgin.á
Fatality Leads to $173,000 OSHA Penalty
OSHA has proposed $173,000 in fines against TEPPCO Partners LP and EPCO Inc. and their successors, for unsafe operation of the Todhunter Terminal, a Monroe, Ohio, facility primarily operating to receive, store, distribute and ship refined petroleum products.
OSHA opened an accident investigation at Todhunter Terminal following a September 2005 explosion that took the life of one worker. As a result of that inspection, OSHA issued citations alleging 15 serious violations with penalties totaling $103,000 and two repeat violations with $70,000 in proposed penalties for failure to comply with federal workplace safety and health standards.
Among the serious violations cited were inadequate standard operating procedures for handling propane gas, lack of self-closing valves, lack of training for employees, and use of radio-phones that were not intrinsically safe in hazardous locations. Alleged repeat violations included failure to perform inspections and tests on equipment that controlled the flow of water and propane, lack of written mechanical integrity procedures and failure to correct items found during mandated internal compliance audits of the facility.
"Working with flammable gases requires specialized equipment and procedures," said OSHA Area Director Richard Gilgrist, Cincinnati. "When those elements are lacking, tragedies can and do occur."
OSHA last inspected the Todhunter Terminal following a 2002 accident in which a worker was fatally overcome by butane fumes. TEPPCO Partners is headquartered in Houston, Texas, as the Texas Eastern Products Pipeline Company LLC.á
OSHA Fines Savannah Construction $125,000 for Trenching Hazards at Construction Sites
OSHA has cited Savannah Construction and proposed penalties totaling $125,000 for trenching hazards at job sites in Cumming, GA. County officials notified OSHA after the company failed to heed warnings about unsafe conditions at the residential building sites."
OSHA is a member of a statewide alliance of county, business, labor and university organizations dedicated to preventing trenching accidents," said G. T. Breezley, OSHA's Atlanta-East area director. "This effort involves training classes, publishing information about trenching safety, and referrals."
OSHA conducted three referral inspections at sites on Hopewell Road where Savannah Construction employees were digging trenches and installing underground utilities.
On Aug. 29, OSHA inspectors determined that a designated competent person failed to inspect trenches and take corrective action when cracks appeared in trench walls, and that the company failed to provide adequate cave-in protection and keep excavated material at least two feet from trench edges. The agency issued three repeat citations with proposed penalties of $12,000. A serious citation, with a proposed penalty of $1,000, was issued for failing to provide head protection for employees working near an excavating machine. At that time, OSHA discussed safe trenching practices with company officials and provided written information.
On Sept. 9, OSHA inspectors returned to the area and again observed trenches more than five feet deep without adequate cave-in protection, such as trench boxes, or sloping or shoring the sides of the trenches. The company received one willful citation with a proposed penalty of $44,000. A serious citation, with a proposed penalty of $4,000, was also issued for failing to provide employees with a safe means of exiting trenches.
After receiving another call from county officials, OSHA inspectors returned Sept. 13 and observed employees working in three excavations without adequate cave-in protection. The agency issued another willful citation with a proposed penalty of $56,000. The company also received a repeat citation, with a proposed penalty of $8,000, for allowing five feet of excavated material to accumulate at the edges of trenches six to nine feet deep.
$120,200 Penalty for Lead and Noise Overexposure at Foundry
Franklin Nonferrous Foundry Inc., Franklin, NH, faces a total of $120,200 in proposed fines from OSHA for failing to protect workers from a variety of health hazards including lead and noise overexposures.
The foundry was cited for a total of 21 alleged willful, serious and repeat violations of workplace health and safety standards following an OSHA inspection begun Sept. 15, 2005, in response to an employee complaint. This is the eighth time OSHA has cited the foundry since 1999.
The inspection found that employees were continually overexposed to airborne concentrations of lead and to high noise levels, and the employer had not implemented effective controls to reduce exposure levels, nor ensured the use of hearing and eye protection.
"These are clearly recognized hazards in foundry work that can lead to serious illness, injury and hearing loss if the required safeguards are not implemented or are ignored altogether," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's New Hampshire area director. "This employer has known for years what steps must be taken to protect employees' health and safety but has refused to implement them."
The employer did not conduct required air and biological monitoring to see if workers had elevated lead levels in their blood systems or provide audiograms to determine if workers had sustained hearing loss. Lead is a systemic poison, and continued overexposure can damage the blood-forming, nervous, urinary and reproductive systems.
OSHA issued seven willful citations, carrying $95,000 in proposed fines, for these items. 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.
Twelve serious citations, with $19,200 in fines, were issued for: a locked emergency exit; blocked exit access; improper cleaning, storage and use of respirators; lack of protective clothing and equipment; unsanitary shower facilities; copper dust overexposure and lack of exposure controls; lead-contaminated clothing, and no cadmium training program or exposure monitoring. Two repeat citations, with $6,000 in fines, were issued for an inadequate lead compliance program and improper use of compressed air for cleaning purposes.
Manufacturer Cited for Violations of Safety and Health Standards Following Plant Fatality
OSHA has proposed $114,000 in fines against Weather Shield Manufacturing Inc., Ladysmith, WI, for eight alleged violations of federal workplace safety and health standards. The fines follow an OSHA investigation of a workplace fatality.
OSHA opened an inspection in September 2005 after a forklift operator was crushed by a stack of lumber that fell at the company's South Plant worksite in Ladysmith. One willful citation with proposed penalties of $70,000 was issued against Weather Shield for lumber bundles that were not properly stacked, secured and spaced to prevent them from falling."
Improperly stacked and secured lumber has the potential to cause serious harm to workers. In this case, a worker lost his life," said Mark Hysell, director of OSHA's area office in Eau Claire, WI.
OSHA also issued one repeat citation with a proposed penalty of $25,000 for lack of proper machine guarding. The employer failed to provide adequate machine guarding to prevent workers from contacting the blade of a knee-actuated saw. The firm was cited for a violation of the same standard in November 2003.
Additional penalties totaling $19,000 were issued for six serious citations, four of which dealt with unguarded machines, one with inadequate forklift training and the last with a narrow exit access.
Weather Shield Manufacturing manufactures wood, vinyl and steel insulated doors and windows. OSHA has inspected the company 11 times since 1989, and nine inspections resulted in citations.
OSHA and the Marble Institute of America Form Regional Alliance to Raise Job Safety and Health Awareness
OSHA and the Marble Institute of America (MIA) in Cleveland have signed an alliance to provide MIA members and others with information and training resources to help them protect employees' health and safety.
The alliance was also signed by the state OSHA consultations services of Ohio, Minnesota and Wisconsin that offer free job safety and health advice, primarily for small businesses in high-hazard industries. State consultations services are confidential and separate from OSHA's enforcement arm.
"This regional alliance demonstrates our commitment to find cooperative ways to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses," said Michael Connors, OSHA regional administrator in Chicago. "Enlisting the help of the Marble Institute of America in this effort will further our joint objective of improving safety in natural stone fabricating businesses through enhanced communication about safety issues and development of safety programs."
During the two-year alliance, OSHA and MIA will develop information to help MIA member employers and workers recognize and prevent such hazards as exposure to silica and handling slabs of stone. The alliance will also develop safety and health training and education programs and will provide expertise to develop workplace safety and health curricula on the prevention of silicosis in the stone industry. OSHA will encourage states that have OSHA State Plans to participate in the alliance.
At conferences and public forums, OSHA and MIA will share best practices and forge innovative solutions to address workplace hazards. Information will be distributed at seminars, meetings or workshops to raise workplace safety and heath awareness, and information will be developed on recognition and prevention of workplace hazards for OSHA's and MIA's Web sites.
The alliance will also promote and encourage participation in OSHA's cooperative programs. These include compliance assistance, safety and health consultation programs, the Voluntary Protection Programs and the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program.
The Marble Institute of America represents professionals working with all types of natural stone, including marble, granite limestone, quartz-based stone, slate travertine and other materials. OSHA alliances are part of U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao's ongoing efforts to improve the health and safety of workers. OSHA has created more than 400 alliances with organizations committed to fostering safety and health in the workplace.á
OSHA Cites Team Electric of Denver for Alleged Safety Violations
OSHA has cited Team Electric Inc., Denver, CO, for unsafe working conditions following an electrical accident at a construction site in Aurora. Proposed penalties total $115,500.
One worker received serious burns on his torso, arms and corneas as the result of an electrical arc flash while working inside a main electrical room at the construction site Sept. 20, 2005."
This accident could have been avoided by following recognized safe practices for working around electrical hazards," said Herb Gibson, OSHA area director in Denver.
Citations issued against the firm by OSHA's Denver area office allege two serious and two willful violations of OSHA standards. The willful violations, with proposed penalties of $112,000, involve failure to use required personal protective equipment when working around energized equipment and failure to de-energize and ground electrical equipment or effectively guard energized equipment from inadvertent employee contact. Additional penalties of $3,500 were proposed for lack of training involving arc flash and shock hazards and failure to have an accident prevention program.
"Strong enforcement, when necessary, is a key part of OSHA's efforts to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses," said Greg Baxter, OSHA regional administrator in Denver. "It is not acceptable to work on energized equipment without the use of adequate protection against electrical shock and arc flashes, one of the four leading causes of worker injuries and deaths in the construction industry."
Willful violations are those committed with intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.á
Silicosis - Working with Cement Roofing Tiles: A Silica Hazard
Although respirable silica is a recognized health hazard in the construction industry, only recently has this exposure been documented in roofers. NIOSH has measured respirable silica levels up to four times the recommended exposure limit around roofers cutting cement products such as when roofing tiles are cut during the installation process. This cutting generates clouds of silica-containing dust. Respirable silica exposure may also occur when blowers or dry sweeping methods are used to clean the roof. This practice can produce large silica-containing dust clouds. NIOSH does not recommend this practice. Anyone who inhales dust generated by cutting cement tiles or cleaning the residue will be exposed to respirable silica, placing them at risk for developing silicosis.á
Visit the NIOSH website for more information.á
Recent Mining Accidents Prompt New Safety Initiative
As a result of the fatal mining accidents in West Virginia earlier this year, the Missouri Division of Labor Standards' Mine and Cave Safety and Health Program began a "Mine Safety Walk and Talk" initiative in an effort to bring additional attention to safety in the mining industry.á Mine safety staff members have visited 163 mines since the initiative began in February.á
"We are extremely pleased with the feedback we've received on this initiative from mine owners and workers throughout Missouri.á One mine completely shut down their operation so all their employees could hear our presentation," said Allen Dillingham, Director of the Division of Labor Standards.á "Our goal with this initiative is to increase safety awareness and decrease the risk for mining accidents."
Over the past month, mine safety staff members have given 163 safety and health presentations to 1,679 mine employees.á Presentations include topics on accident prevention methods, hazard awareness and fire and evacuation procedures.ááá ááá
The Mine and Cave Safety and Health Program provides no-cost training and consultation to mine owners and workers, as well as contractors, through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration.á Consultation provides services in the areas of training and training plan development, mine rescue, hazard awareness and abatement, risk assessment and alternative solutions to mine hazard abatement.á The program's mine safety instructors trained more than 5,700 Missouri miners in federal fiscal year 2005.á Missouri has approximately 450 mines.
The program will continue to visit mines throughout the state to promote the safety initiative.á For additional information regarding the Mine Safety Program, or other workplace safety questions, please call (573) 751-3403
OSHA Opens New Queens District Office; Replaces Bayside District Office
OSHA has opened a new Queens District Office in Little Neck, NY. According to Richard Mendelson, OSHA's Manhattan area office director, the new office replaces the Bayside district office which was vacated earlier this month for more modern and efficient quarters in Little Neck.
"The Queens District Office stands ready to continue providing coverage under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to all private sector workplaces in Queens County," said Mendelson.
Anyone with a workplace safety or health problem in Queens can call the office at (718) 279-9060. The office's mailing address is 45-17 Marathon Parkway, Little Neck, NY 11362.á
Brick Industry Association Joins OSHA in Alliance
OSHA formed an Alliance with the Brick Industry Association (BIA) that will focus on reducing ergonomic-related injuries, and preventing exposure to workplace hazards.
"The Brick Industry Association is taking a stand to foster safer work environments for employees in their industry," said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jonathan L. Snare. "We look forward to drawing from our joint expertise to provide workers the education and training they need to stay safe and healthy on the job."A
dded BIA President and CEO Richard A. Jennison: "The brick industry is pleased to collaborate with OSHA on the development and communication of 'best practices' in such important areas of employee health and safety as ergonomics and silica. This should facilitate a constructive dialogue, resulting in a heightened knowledge level for brick manufacturing employees in these areas."
OSHA and BIA will work together to provide the association's members and others with information, guidance, and training resources to protect workers' health and safety. The Alliance calls for both organizations to share information among OSHA personnel and industry safety and health professionals regarding BIA's best practices and effective approaches. Additionally, the Alliance promotes and encourages BIA members' participation in OSHA's cooperative programs such as the Voluntary Protection Programs, and the On-site Consultation Program and its Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program.
Both organizations will speak, exhibit or appear at conferences, local meetings, or other events, such as BIA's Brick Show, and will also develop information on the recognition and prevention of workplace hazards and provide expertise in developing ways of communicating such information to employers and employees in the brick industry.
BIA is a national trade association representing distributors and manufacturers of clay brick and suppliers of related products and services, including brick masonry. The association's 40 manufacturers operate nearly 150 plants that produce more than 85 percent of the brick shipped in the U.S. and Canada.