OSHA has cited CITGO Petroleum Corporation in Lake Charles, La., with proposed penalties totaling $169,000 for allegedly failing to protect employees from hazardous working conditions. The fines stem from 3 willful and 12 serious violations following an investigation that began Aug. 13, 2007.
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. Serious violations are issued when there is a substantial probability that death or serious injury could occur from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The willful violations included failure to operate the blowdown drum within volume limits so as to prevent over-filling and failure to implement blowdown emergency operating procedures.
Serious violations included failure to:
- Provide process safety information for pressure vessels
- Identify safeguards related to the control of liquid hydrocarbon release through the blowdown system
- Complete a process hazard analysis for the crude vacuum unit No. 1 prior to startup
- Conduct contractor audits
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director in Baton Rouge, La., or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
CITGO Petroleum, which specializes in refining gasoline and lubricants, has approximately 1,430 employees at its Lake Charles location and about 4,000 employees companywide. The company also operates refineries in Illinois and Texas.
OSHA Fines Signature Aluminum Inc. $78,000
OSHA has issued a $78,000 fine against Signature Aluminum Inc. for workplace hazards. OSHA cited the Greenville, Pa., manufacturing facility on Sept. 21, 2007, after inspectors found hazards involving the control of hazardous energy, as well as other safety and health violations.
Under a settlement agreement filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, Signature Aluminum also will expand its safety and health program to offer greater protections for its employees. The company will provide enhanced training to all supervisors and managers regarding OSHA requirements for the adequate control of hazardous energy; expand the coverage provided by an industrial nurse; restructure a joint union/management safety committee; conduct special training for all employees on the control of hazardous energy; and emphasize management commitment and employer involvement, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, and safety and health training.
“Signature Aluminum is taking all of the right steps to turn a potentially dangerous situation around to better protect its employees,” said Ed Selker, OSHA’s acting deputy regional administrator in Philadelphia. “The company’s willingness to take action before a crisis occurs sets a vital example for others in the industry.”
Pallet Manufacturers for Widespread Labor Violations
The California Labor and Workforce Development Agency announced that Economic Employment Enforcement Coalition (EEEC) investigators issued 49 citations for safety and labor violations—with fines totaling more than $567,000—in a recent sweep of Bay Area pallet manufacturers.
The enforcement actions, conducted on February 6 and 7, uncovered serious violations that included:
- Failure to pay minimum wage
- Failure to have workers’ compensation insurance and not providing itemized wage statements
- Disabled safety latches on circular saws and other power tools
- Failure to supply safety equipment such as safety glasses or earplugs, as well as failure to provide safety training
- Unsafe working conditions such as ungrounded electrical equipment; workers ankle-deep in mud; no toilets on-site; and illegal on-site dormitory-style rooms with no heat, plumbing, or electricity.
"California law provides protections for workers and it is our responsibility to ensure that the laws are being followed," said Robert Jones, deputy secretary for enforcement at the Labor and Workforce Development Agency. "We are investigating unscrupulous businesses like these for their mistreatment of workers and creation of dangerous working conditions. By targeting enforcement against illegal operators, we help level the playing field and restore competitive advantage to law-abiding businesses and their employees."
Launched in July of 2005 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the EEEC is a multi-agency task force designed to root out California’s underground economy by enforcing California labor laws and educating business owners and workers about those laws and regulations in workshops held regularly statewide.
Businesses engaged in the underground economy deprive the state and legitimate businesses of millions of dollars each year, and in many cases, pass the cost on to the consumer. During unannounced enforcement sweeps, the EEEC targets businesses that avoid labor, tax, and licensing laws, disregard safety and health regulations, and carry no workers’ compensation insurance for their employees.
EEEC is currently targeting garment, agriculture, construction, pallet, auto body, car wash, and restaurant businesses. These industries have been identified as having a high incidence of workplace violations and a lack of regulatory compliance.
In collaboration with the Labor and Workforce Development Agency’s Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and the Employment Development Department, EEEC works directly with DIR’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health and Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to carry out its mission. The U.S. Department of Labor also participates in the EEEC as does the Contractors State License Board in cases involving the construction industry.
OSHA Cites Two Pennsylvania Construction Companies for Workplace Hazards
OSHA has cited King Construction Co. LLC for workplace safety and health violations at a Conestoga, Pa., construction site and proposed $101,000 in penalties. The New Holland company is a general contractor with 44 employees specializing in the construction of agricultural buildings throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.
OSHA initiated its investigation on Aug. 9, 2007, in response to a truss collapse that injured six employees. The investigation has resulted in the company being cited for two alleged willful violations, with a proposed penalty of $98,000, and one alleged serious violation, with a penalty of $3,000.
The willful violations address the company’s failure to adequately brace trusses while employees worked on and around them, and its failure to provide employees with adequate fall protection. The serious violations reflect the company’s failure to train employees on the need for fall protection and strategies.
OSHA also has cited Weaver Construction LLC, a company located in Orrstown, Pa., which was assisting King Construction with the project, for three alleged serious violations due to hazards involving inadequately braced trusses and fall protection, proposing a $6,000 penalty.
“Fall hazards are one of the leading causes of accidents on construction sites,” said Dave Roccasecca, acting director of OSHA’s area office in Harrisburg, Pa. “The OSHA regulations these companies disregarded are designed to prevent the type of unfortunate accident that took place.”
Both companies have 15 business days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA’s Harrisburg Area Office.
OSHA Proposes $328,500 in Penalties for Alabama Contractor
OSHA has proposed $328,500 in fines for Gilco Contracting Inc. in Alabama. These penalties are being assessed based on 13 safety violations found when OSHA visited three Alabama jobsites in August and November 2007.
“OSHA will not allow a company to put its employees in extreme jeopardy every day they go to work,” said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA’s area director in Birmingham. “Finding repeat violations at three different job locations demonstrates to us that Gilco Contracting is indifferent to its employees’ safety.”
The Tuscaloosa, Ala., contractor has been cited for seven repeat violations and penalties totaling $315,000 for failing to follow OSHA’s rules regarding protection of employees in trenching and excavating operations at two jobsites in Lakeview and another in Northport, Ala. Gilco Contracting had received citations for similar violations after inspections in May 2005 and October 2006.
The company also has been cited for three serious violations with proposed penalties of $10,800 for using improper equipment and three other-than-serious citations with penalties of $2,700 for recordkeeping violations.
Brandenburg Industrial Service Co. Becomes First Demolition Company to Receive OSHA’s VPP “Star” Safety Status
For the first time, OSHA has certified a demolition company, Brandenburg Industrial Service Co. in Chicago, Ill., and Milwaukee, Wis., as a “star” in its prestigious Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). OSHA’s “star” designation is the highest level of recognition that an employer can achieve in the VPP.
OSHA’s deputy regional administrator in Chicago presented the company with a VPP star flag and plaque at a ceremony for the company’s outstanding safety and health programs in the Greater Chicago and Milwaukee areas.
The demolition company has about 300 employees in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas and more than 700 employees nationally.
VPP, designed for worksites with comprehensive, successful safety and health programs, is open to all industries and to companies with injury rates below their respective industries’ national averages.
More than 1,920 worksites nationwide have earned entry into OSHA’s VPP, which has proven to be an effective means of reducing injuries, illnesses, fatalities, and costs, while fostering a more productive workforce and increasing employee morale.
OSHA Recognizes Utility Contractors Site in Kansas for Safety and Health Excellence
Utility Contractors Inc.’s shop and yard site in Wichita, Kan., has earned membership in OSHA’s VPP at the highest, or “star,” level.
Utility Contractors Inc. has nine employees at the Wichita facility who maintain and store power tools, safety items, and construction supplies within a metal fabrication area. This location is the company’s second to be awarded VPP star status.
“Utility Contractors Inc. continues to exhibit excellence in safety and health management by achieving star status at not only one, but two worksites,” said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. “The company’s outstanding efforts have included management commitment to safety and health and employee involvement in safety and health programs.”
Gestamp Automocin Receives Michigan Award for Outstanding Safety and Health Record
Gestamp Automocin of Lapeer, Mich., has received the Gold from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) for an outstanding safety and health record. The MIOSHA program is part of the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth (DLEG).
Gestamp Automocin of Lapeer has gone almost four years without a lost-time accident.
OSHA Launches Safety and Health Alliance to Protect Employees in Somerset County, New Jersey
OSHA has joined with the New Jersey Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health (PEOSH) and the Somerset County Business Partnership to promote workplace safety and health among area businesses.
OSHA, PEOSH, and the Somerset County Business Partnership will use their collective expertise to develop training and educational programs designed to promote and improve employee safety and health in Somerset County, N.J. These programs will help employers better understand OSHA’s and PEOSH’s requirements, enhance employer and employee recognition and prevention of workplace hazards, and encourage employers to establish and implement effective safety and health management systems.
OSHA’s safety and health alliances are part of U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao’s ongoing efforts to improve the safety and health of employees through cooperative programs with trade associations, labor organizations, employers, and government agencies. OSHA currently has more than 460 alliances throughout the nation with organizations committed to fostering safety and health in the workplace.