Colt Defense and Colt's Manufacturing Face $223,000 in OSHA Fines

September 24, 2007

Colt Defense LLC and Colt's Manufacturing LLC face a total of $223,000 in proposed OSHA fines. The military and commercial firearms manufacturers were cited for 50 alleged violations of safety and health standards at their West Hartford, Conn., manufacturing plant following inspections by OSHA's Hartford Area Office begun in March.

"These citations encompass a cross-section of chemical, electrical, and mechanical hazards that can result in burns, lacerations, amputation, crushing injuries, electrocution, explosions, and lead poisoning if they are not promptly and fully addressed and corrected," said C. William Freeman III, OSHA's area director in Hartford.

Colt Defense was issued 25 serious citations, with $76,500 in proposed fines, for exposing employees to lead and lack of controls to reduce those exposures; numerous instances of unguarded machinery; inadequate personal protective equipment and training; storage areas not kept free of accumulated materials posing an explosion hazard; no quick drench shower for employees exposed to corrosive materials; improper disposal of cloths contaminated with combustible liquids; unguarded floor holes; no fire protection system for a dip tank; a leaking roof; electrical hazards including ungrounded, unguarded, or damaged electrical equipment and cords; and untrained employees.

Colt Defense also was issued four repeat citations, with $75,000 in proposed fines, for not conducting required lead-exposure monitoring, not requiring employees who were overexposed to lead to shower at the end of each work shift, an incomplete lead compliance program, and not keeping surfaces free of lead accumulation. A repeat citation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for a substantially similar hazard and that citation has become a final order. OSHA had cited Colt Defense in November 2005 for similar hazards at this location.

Colt's Manufacturing was issued 21 serious citations, with $71,500 in proposed fines, for failing to adequately control the buildup of combustible aluminum dust; failing to maintain respirators in a sanitary condition; not providing annual training to employees exposed to lead; failing to replace a worn wire rope on an overhead hoist; and numerous instances of unguarded machinery and unguarded or ungrounded electrical equipment or cords.

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. Both businesses have 15 business days from receipt of their citations to request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA's area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

South Carolina Governor Signs Workers Comp Executive Order for Objective Standards

Governor Mark Sanford joined with business groups from across South Carolina to sign Executive Order 2007-16, mandating that the Workers' Compensation Commission and its commissioners follow state law in applying objective standards when making workers' compensation awards.

The South Carolina Supreme Court has held that the workers' compensation awards should be made in accordance with objective standards, and that their use is mandated by the "due process" clause of the state constitution. However, workers' compensation rulings in South Carolina have varied wildly, averaging 81 percent higher than awards made in other states that follow similar guidelines. This has led in part to recent spiraling increases in workers compensation insurance—an indirect tax on every South Carolina consumer. The new order will ensure compliance with existing law, and, as a result, help reduce the cost of doing business in South Carolina.

"Even though the bill passed earlier this year represented a big step forward, it fell short on the idea of making clear that workers' compensation awards should be based upon objective standards, something we're addressing today with this order," Gov. Sanford said. "We believe this Executive Order will have a material impact in improving our workers' compensation system, a system that had unfortunately become too subjective, was hurting our small businesses' ability to compete, and was driving up costs for the average South Carolinian."

Workers' compensation reform has been a top priority for Gov. Sanford this year, one that he laid out in his State of the State address as being key to South Carolina’s continued ability to attract and grow businesses. The changes made in this year's previous reform bill that Gov. Sanford signed, S.332, are aimed at injecting some much-needed predictability, consistency, and rationality into the workers' compensation system in South Carolina. 

In 2000, South Carolina ranked 49th in the nation in workers' compensation premium rates and moved up to 42nd in 2002 and moved three more spots in 2004 to 39th. Currently, South Carolina has the 25th highest premium in the nation—jumping 24 spots in just six years. Last year, South Carolina's workers' compensation premiums grew more than 18 percent, and the state ranks second in the nation since 2000 in terms of how quickly rates have increased. Meanwhile, reform in other states has produced insurance premium rate reductions for their businesses; California has seen a cumulative rate reduction of 55 percent since July 2003 while Florida's workers' compensation filings—which impact the cost of premiums—have seen a 13 percent decrease this year alone.

NIOSH, AIHA Renew Partnership to Improve Occupational Health and Safety

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently renewed their partnership to improve occupational health and safety conditions at workplaces throughout the United States.

AIHA and NIOSH formed the partnership last year to use collaborative efforts and expertise to advance the protection of workers, promote best practices, and encourage employers to develop and utilize occupational health and safety management systems and effective prevention strategies and technologies. The renewal reaffirms this commitment.

"AIHA is a valued partner in our mutual effort to prevent work-related illnesses, injuries, and deaths," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "We are particularly pleased that, through collaboration with AIHA and its members who are often the key health and safety leaders or coordinators at work sites, we have greater opportunities for having positive impacts in reducing the risks of work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths."

"We value this opportunity to continue our partnership with NIOSH to support and encourage research, training, and other initiatives," said AIHA President Donald J. Hart, PhD, CIH. "We look forward to sustaining this collaboration to raise awareness of the importance of occupational health and safety at workplaces throughout the United States."

Together, both organizations agreed to continue to work cooperatively and provide outreach, communication, and professional development opportunities regarding occupational health and safety, and facilitate the transfer and implementation of effective workplace illness and injury prevention measures by:

  • Developing and disseminating information on worker health and safety at appropriate conferences and through print and electronic media, including AIHA and NIOSH websites
  • Participating at conferences, meetings, and other key events where occupational and environmental health and safety issues are proactively addressed
  • Advancing the effectiveness of occupational health and safety research and promoting and facilitating the transfer of research results to practice in preventing occupational illnesses and injuries
  • Strengthening recruiting efforts for students to enter occupational and environmental health and safety graduate and undergraduate training programs  The renewed partnership will continue until Dec. 31, 2008.

OSHA Forms Alliance With U.S. Forest Service to Protect Allegheny National Forest Employees

OSHA and the U.S. Forest Service have formed an alliance to promote workplace safety and health for employees in the Allegheny National Forest. The alliance was made official during a recent signing ceremony at Allegheny National Forest headquarters in Warren, Pa.

Alliances are part of OSHA's ongoing efforts to improve the health and safety of employees through cooperative partnerships with trade associations, labor organizations, and employers. The Allegheny National Forest, in the northwestern Pennsylvania counties of Elk, McKean, Forest, and Warren, covers more than 513,000 acres.

The alliance will train Allegheny Forest Service employees in safety and health program administration, as well as identification and prevention of forestry-related hazards. Major goals include providing information and guidance on OSHA standards and developing workplace safety and health curriculum specific to the operation of the Allegheny National Forest and its district offices.

"OSHA is pleased to enter into this cooperative agreement with the U.S. Forest Service," said Ed Selker, director of OSHA's area office in Erie, Pa. "By working together, we will enhance safe working conditions not only for employees of the Forest Service but for everyone who works in the Allegheny National Forest."

OSHA Fines Perth Amboy Manufacturer $121,600 for Workplace Safety and Health Violations

OSHA has cited Vira Manufacturing Inc. for multiple alleged safety and health violations, proposing a total of $121,600 in penalties. The Perth Amboy company, which manufactures retail store fixtures and displays, has 175 employees.

OSHA initiated its investigation on March 15 after receiving a referral from the Perth Amboy Police Department concerning a worksite incident involving a forklift truck running over an employee's foot. As a result of the investigation, the company was issued citations for nine repeat violations, with a proposed penalty of $62,400; 28 serious violations, with a proposed penalty of $59,200; and three other-than-serious violations, which carry no penalty.

"Vira Manufacturing has a responsibility to abate these identified hazards and maintain a safe and healthful environment for its employees," said Robert Kulick, director of OSHA's Avenel, N.J., area office.

The repeat violations address the company's failure to establish an energy control program, a lack of machine guarding, and the lack of a sufficient hazard communication program. The serious violations include electrical hazards, various hazards associated with the use of methylene chloride, the company's failure to provide covers for floor openings, improper stair railings, a lack of training and inspections for fire extinguishers, a lack of eye protection, the use of compressed air for cleaning, a deficient respirator program, and required medical evaluations and training.

The other-than-serious violations relate to a lack of respirator fit testing, housekeeping hazards, and vermin control.

Repeat citations are issued when an employer has previously been cited for a substantially similar violation and that citation and its penalty have become final. 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. An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.

OSHA Proposes More Than $50,000 in Penalties Against Wood Pallet Manufacturer

OSHA has proposed penalties of $50,200 against Major Wood Products LLC, a manufacturer of wood pallets.

The violations were discovered during an inspection of the company's Carrollton, Ga., facility in May 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 injuries and illnesses.

"Employers must focus on workplace safety and not ignore dangerous situations," said Andre Richards, director of OSHA's Atlanta-West Area Office.

The company was cited with 13 serious safety and health violations carrying a total of $32,200 in penalties. These include employees using machines lacking safety guards, exposing employees to excessive noise without providing regular audiograms, exposing employees to electrical hazards from ungrounded equipment, and inappropriate use of extension cords.

Three repeat violations with $18,000 in penalties were proposed for operating with unguarded floor openings that could allow employees to fall into production equipment, not following proper lockout procedures to prevent employees from being caught in moving equipment, and not providing employees with adequate training in recognizing hazardous energy sources. OSHA issues a repeat citation when an employer previously has been cited for a substantially similar violation and that citation and its penalty have become final.

OSHA Fines Four Construction Companies More Than $119,000 Following Fatality at Dallas Worksite

OSHA has issued citations to Satterfield & Pontikes Construction Inc. in Houston, Texas; Okie Foundation Drilling Co. Inc. and Rent-A-Crane of Oklahoma Inc. in Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Soto Rebar Construction in Dallas, Texas, following the death of an employee at a Dallas worksite. Proposed penalties total $119,550.

OSHA began its inspection on March 23 at a construction site on Corsicana Street in Dallas after an employee was electrocuted when a truck crane used to hoist reinforcing steel for foundation piers made contact with an overhead power line. The crane operator swung the boom into the power line, killing an employee of Satterfield & Pontikes Construction Inc. and severely injuring an employee of Okie Foundation Drilling Co.

“The employer should have ensured that there was a minimum clearance of 10 feet between the crane and the energized overhead power lines,” said Dean McDaniel, OSHA’s regional administrator in Dallas. “If OSHA’s safety standards had been followed, this tragedy could have been avoided.”

OSHA has cited all four contractors for failure to maintain the minimum clearance between the crane and power lines.

OSHA also has cited Satterfield & Pontikes Construction Inc. with two alleged serious violations for failure to guard the swing radius of the crane and failure to train employees in how to safely operate forklift trucks. Proposed penalties for the serious violations total $79,500.

Okie Foundation Drilling Co. Inc. has been cited for three alleged serious violations, with proposed penalties totaling $26,700, for failure to guard the swing radius of the crane and drilling rig, failure to repair damaged slings to hoist materials and equipment, and failure to protect employees from fall hazards.

Rent-A-Crane of Oklahoma Inc., owner and operator of the crane, has been cited with six alleged serious violations, including failure to guard the swing radius of the crane and failure to maintain and operate the crane in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications and industry standards. OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $11,250.

Soto Rebar Construction, a structural steel and pre-cast concrete contractor, has been cited for one alleged serious citation, with proposed penalties of $2,100, for failure to maintain the minimum clearance between the crane and overhead power lines.

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