Benefits of Comprehensive Safety and Health Program

July 23, 2007

OSHA released a new case study that shows how Ritrama, a signatory of the Graphic Arts Coalition alliance, realized lower workers' compensation premiums and higher productivity and quality after implementing a comprehensive safety and health program.

"Ritrama's success is a good example of what can happen when management and employees dedicate themselves to workplace safety and health," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. "While the benefits from Ritrama's new safety and health program have occurred throughout the company, the company has reduced their workers' compensation premiums by $44,000, increased sales by 7.5 percent and have reduced the costs of manufacturing defects and waste by more than $2 million."

In a company memorandum thanking Ritrama employees, Safety Director Mike Conklin wrote, "Our safety programs are not given 'lip service.' Safety is part of our culture, and we have had measurable results over the past 5 years."

Ritrama, a multi-national corporation, manufactures pressure-sensitive films and labels for the automotive, beverage, health, beauty, and pharmaceutical industries. In an effort to significantly improve its safety and health performance at the company's manufacturing plant in Minneapolis, Minn., Ritrama designed and implemented a program to educate employees, managers, and supervisors about safe work practices and procedures. 

OSHA Cites Concrete Pipe Manufacturer $106,300 for Health and Safety Violations

OSHA has proposed $106,300 in fines against Graber Concrete Pipe Co., of Bloomingdale, Ill., for alleged multiple willful, serious, and repeat violations of federal workplace safety and health standards.

OSHA's investigation was initiated after being notified in January that an employee had become trapped inside a hopper and was engulfed by sand and other material, and that rescue efforts were underway. The rescue effort quickly became a recovery effort, however, as the employee expired. As a result of that investigation, OSHA has issued citations for two willful, four repeat and 14 serious violations of federal safety regulations.

"Any commercial manufacturing activity has the potential to be extremely hazardous," said Kathy O'Connell, director of OSHA's area office in North Aurora, Ill. "Employers must remain committed to keeping the workplace safe and healthful."

Serious citations, with $20,100 in proposed penalties, involve safety issues with industrial trucks, electrical hazards, confined space entry violations and unsafe fixed ladders.

Proposed penalties for willful violations total $70,000 and address the lack of guardrails on open-sided floors or platforms, and cages or wells on ladders of more than 20 feet in height.

Repeat violations, based on items previously identified as violations and affirmed as such in previous inspections, include a lack of energy lockout/tagout devices, guard railing violations, failure to guard floor holes to prevent persons from accidental falls, and failure to guard pulleys against accidental entrapment of employees or their clothing. Proposed penalties for repeat violations total $16,200.

Graber manufactures and sells concrete pipe used for storm sewer systems. OSHA opened this investigation in January 2007. The agency has conducted inspections at Graber Concrete Pipe Co. on four occasions since 1982 and, prior to this one, as recently as 2006. The company has received numerous citations for safety and health violations.

$155,000 in Penalties for Poultry Processing Plant with 21 Violations

OSHA has proposed penalties of $155,000 against Kings Delight for 13 safety and eight health violations found at its Braselton, Ga., production facility. Inspectors visited the poultry processor as part of OSHA's Site-Specific Targeting Program, which targets the nation's most hazardous workplaces for inspection based on their histories of having high numbers of injury and illness cases.

"Our combined safety and health inspection showed that the company disregarded proper safety and health procedures for its 200 employees," said Gei Thae Breezley, OSHA's Atlanta-East area director. "It is important that employers pursue safety proactively and not wait for OSHA inspectors to discover problems."

OSHA proposed penalties totaling $97,500 for four repeat safety violations including having employees authorized to perform work for which they were not properly trained, lack of machine guards on equipment, machine disconnects not properly labeled, and sanitation employees not allowed to access lockouts for equipment they were servicing. The company had received similar citations during inspections at its Gainesville, Ga., plant between 2002 and 2005. In addition, it was cited for eight other serious safety violations including several fall-related hazards and the use of damaged electrical cords resulting in proposed penalties of $27,500.

OSHA also found eight health violations, including one repeat and six serious violations, resulting in $30,000 in proposed penalties. These violations included the company's failure to provide emergency eye wash and shower stations for employees handling corrosive materials, failure to conduct proper annual audiograms, incorrect use of respirators, and allowing employees to be exposed to particulates above the maximum level specified by regulation. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

Chemcentral Cited Following Fire and Explosions

OSHA has cited the Chemcentral Corp. chemical distribution facility in Kansas City for two alleged willful and four alleged serious violations following a fire and multiple explosions at the plant in early February. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $126,500.

"Chemical distribution facilities have the potential to be extremely hazardous," said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City. "Employers must remain committed to keeping the workplace safe and healthful."

The alleged willful citations address the improper storage and handling of liquids, and failure to provide guard rails or other means of fall protection for employees walking and working on top of above-ground storage tanks that were more than 10 feet above the ground. The alleged serious citations address hazards associated with improper storage separation distances between above-ground storage tanks, means of egress and failure to train employees on the physical hazards of liquids.

Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. Serious violations are those which could result in death or serious physical harm and about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA Fines BP Products North America

OSHA has issued one willful and four serious citations with penalties totaling $92,000 to BP Products North America for violations found at the BP Texas City refinery near Houston. The citations follow an inspection that is part of OSHA's monitoring of the refinery following a March 2005 explosion that killed 15 employees and injured 170.

OSHA cited BP for four violations of 29 CFR 1910.119, Process Safety Management (PSM), and one of 29 CFR 1910.307, Hazardous (classified) Locations. OSHA has continued to inspect and to monitor abatement of citations issued to BP in September 2005 following the fatal explosion and fire at Texas City, as well as BP's compliance with an agreement signed at the time the 2005 citations were issued, under which BP agreed to address PSM systems and equipment throughout the refinery.

The citations include an alleged willful violation for the failure to ensure that the pressure relief system for a large pressure vessel called the "fractionator" conformed to industry codes. The hazard cited is that the inadequate pressure relief equipment could fail, leading to another catastrophic accident. In addition, four alleged serious violations relate to the following failures: to identify, to evaluate and to address the hazards in the fractionator processing unit; to ensure that piping and instrument diagrams were accurate; to ensure the installation of the correct type of pressure relief valves; and to ensure use of intrinsically safe (non-sparking) electrical equipment in locations where flammable liquids and gases are processed.

"The citations issued today are based on the identification of hazardous conditions similar to those that led to the tragic March 2005 explosion," said Dean McDaniel, OSHA's regional administrator in Dallas.

Congressmen Praise Safeway, Inc. for Ceasing Sale of Meat Treated with Carbon Monoxide

Reps. John D. Dingell (D-MI), chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Bart Stupak (D-MI), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, commended Safeway, Inc. for the grocery chain’s decision to discontinue selling fresh meat packed in carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide artificially colors the product and disguises spoilage. This practice is also used by major meat packaging companies.

“Americans place a great deal of trust in the hands of grocers and retailers to sell them safe and healthy products,” said Dingell. “The practice of exposing meat to carbon monoxide deceives consumers and is a potential health hazard. I commend Safeway for its decision to stop selling these meats and I hope other grocers and meat packers will follow suit.”

“I am pleased Safeway decided to stop using carbon monoxide in meat packaging to make meat look red, wholesome and fresh. I hope other companies will follow Safeway’s lead,” said Stupak. “However, it is disconcerting that the Food and Drug Administration continues to regard this deceptive practice as 'Generally Regarded as Safe.' Approximately 20% of the recent seafood treated with carbon monoxide was contaminated or rotten, but looked ‘good’ with carbon monoxide treatment. I will be working through the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee to continue pressuring FDA and industry to stop this deceptive practice and will also be pursuing legislation to address the issue of carbon monoxide treated meat.”


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