New Jersey cast iron pipe manufacturer, Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Co. (a division of McWane, Inc.) and four company officials were found guilty of committing flagrant abuses of environmental and worker safety laws, the Justice Department and Environmental Agency announced today. The charges include, among others, the regular discharge of oil into the Delaware River, concealing serious worker injuries from health and safety inspectors, and maintaining a dangerous workplace that contributed to multiple severe injuries and the death of one employee at the Phillipsburg, New Jersey plant.
The jury returned guilty verdicts against five of six defendants: Atlantic States; plant manager John Prisque; maintenance supervisor Jeffrey Maury; finishing superintendent Craig Davidson; and former Atlantic States human resource manager Scott Faubert-each of whom face prison time for the convictions. One defendant, Daniel Yadzinski, formerly the engineering manager at the plant, was acquitted on three counts.
U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper, who presided over the nearly seven-month-long trial-the longest environmental crimes trial prosecuted by the Justice Department-scheduled the sentencing for the corporation and individual defendants for September 7, 2006.
"As a multiple offender, McWane has time and again shown a disturbing indifference towards the health and safety of their workers and a blatant disregard for the natural environment we all share," said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "Today's conviction shows that the Department of Justice takes seriously its responsibility to enforce the nation's environmental laws. And when companies or individuals break them with such shocking regularity, they will be vigorously prosecuted."
"Atlantic States and these defendants committed heinous crimes against workers and New Jersey's environment," said Christopher J. Christie, the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey. "We will not be stopped in our efforts to protect New Jersey workers and the land and rivers of our state."
"The conviction of Atlantic States and its managers after a trial of unprecedented length sends a clear message: neither EPA nor the public will tolerate knowing and rampant environmental misconduct," said Granta Y. Nakayama, EPA's Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "This manner of 'doing business' injures workers, the public and our environment, and EPA will continue to deter such flagrant disregard of pollution laws by vigorously pursuing not only corporations, but also the culpable individuals regardless of their position within the organization."
The 34-count indictment charged Atlantic States, a subsidiary of McWane Inc. of Birmingham, Alabama, and the named managers, with conspiracy to violate federal clean air and water regulations and laws governing workplace safety, as well as obstruction of criminal and regulatory investigations by the EPA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The company and the four managers were each convicted on Count One of the 34-count indictment, charging that they and the company engaged in an eight-year conspiracy to pollute the air and Delaware River in violation of the federal Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, expose its employees to dangerous conditions and impede federal regulatory and criminal investigations. For the individual defendants, the conspiracy count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and a fine of $500,000 for the company.
Atlantic States was named in all counts of the indictment, and was also convicted on five counts of making materially false statements to state and federal environmental agencies and the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA); four counts of obstructing OSHA investigations; 22 counts of violating the federal Clean Water Act and one count of violating the Clean Air Act.
In addition to the main conspiracy conviction, the verdicts for the individual defendants were as follows:
John Prisque, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania:
- Guilty of three counts of obstruction of an OSHA investigation, and one not guilty of obstructing OSHA
- Guilty on one count of violating the Clean Water Act
- Guilty on one count of violating the Clean Air Act
Scott Faubert, of Easton, Pennsylvania:
- Guilty on one count of making false statements to OSHA
- Guilty on two counts of obstructing an OSHA investigation
Jeffrey Maury, 36, of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania:
- Guilty on one count of making false statements to the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety and the FBI.
- Guilty of obstruction of an OSHA investigation
- Guilty of seven counts of violating the Clean Water Act
Craig Davidson, of Nazareth, Pennsylvania:
- Guilty on one count of making false statements to the NJ Department of Law and Public Safety and a NJ Department of Environmental Protection emergency responder
- Guilty on 16 counts of violating the Clean Water Act
The privately held McWane, Inc. and its divisions are among the largest manufacturers in the world of ductile iron pipe with more than a dozen plants in the United States and Canada. McWane's products are used primarily for municipal and commercial water and sewer installations.
OSHA Fines BP $2.4 Million for Safety Violations under Enhanced Enforcement Program
OSHA fined BP Products North America, Inc. more than $2.4 million for unsafe operations at the company's Oregon, Ohio refinery. OSHA's inspection identified a number of violations similar to those found during an investigation of the fatal explosion at BP's Texas City, Texas, refinery that claimed the lives of 15 workers and injured more than 170 others.
"It is extremely disappointing that BP Products failed to learn from the lessons of Texas City to assure their workers' safety and health," said Edwin Foulke, Jr., OSHA assistant secretary. "Our Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP) exists for companies like this who, despite our enforcement and outreach efforts, ignore their obligations under the law and continually place their employees at risk."
OSHA's Toledo Area Office initiated an inspection at the Ohio refinery in response to an alert issued by OSHA under the EEP. The inspection resulted in 32 per-instance willful citations, with penalties of more than $2.2 million. OSHA cited BP for locating people in vulnerable buildings among the processing units; failing to correct de-pressurization deficiencies; failing to correct deficiencies with gas monitors; and failing to prevent the use of non-approved electrical equipment in locations in which hazardous concentrations of flammable gases or vapors may exist.
BP was fined an additional $140,000 for two willful violations. The company neglected to develop shutdown procedures and designate responsibilities, and failed to establish a system to promptly address and resolve recommendations made after an incident when a large feed pump failed. Three years later those recommendations had still not been implemented.
Another $35,000 in penalties was issued for five serious violations, including failure to develop operating procedures for a unit that removes sulfur compound; failure to ensure that operating procedures reflect current operating practice in the Isocracker Unit; failure to resolve process hazard analysis recommendations; failure to resolve process safety management compliance audit items in a timely manner; and failure to periodically inspect pressure piping systems.
Chemical Explosion at Ford Injures Three
A chemical explosion occurred at Ford Motor Company’s Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Mich., at approximately 2:18 p.m. on April 28. The explosion occurred in a glass laboratory container and was quickly contained. Two people in the laboratory were injured and transferred to Oakwood Hospital for treatment. Three others were taken to the hospital for observation. Employees in the building were evacuated until it was safe to re-enter. Employees now have been allowed back in the building and are being allowed to go home or return to work. The air in the building has been checked and declared safe. According to the Detroit Free Press, initially, just the person mixing the chemicals was injured. Two others were burned after he left the testing area, exposing them, too. All injuries were minor.
OSHA Cites Fox Lumber Sales Inc. Following Amputation
OSHA has cited Fox Lumber Sales Inc. of Laurel, Montana for 25 alleged serious, repeat, and other-than-serious violations following an inspection of the lumber products wholesaler. Proposed penalties total $120,000.
The OSHA inspection, which began Oct. 31, 2005, in response to an amputation that occurred four days earlier, resulted in 11 serious citations with proposed penalties of $33,200 and twelve repeat citations totaling $86,800 in proposed penalties. Fox Lumber has a local workforce of about 55 employees.
"Employers must take necessary precautions to protect employees from workplace hazards," said Ross Yeager, OSHA area office director in Billings. "This significant penalty demonstrates OSHA's commitment to assure compliance with job safety and health standards."
Alleged serious violations addressed hazards associated with lack of emergency lighting, inadequate machine guarding, inadequate training on operating woodworking machinery, inadequate use of personal protective equipment, use of unsafe forklifts, and unguarded belts and pulleys. Serious violations occur when there is probability of death or serious physical harm and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
The alleged repeat violations addressed a failure to implement feasible administrative or engineering controls to reduce noise levels, inadequate training on lock-out/tag-out procedures to render machinery inoperable during maintenance and repair, inadequate machine guarding, unsafe electrical hazards, inadequate forklift training, and blocked and unmarked exits. OSHA defines repeat violations as those for which an employer has been previously cited for the same or a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA, ASSE, Industry Groups Team up to Increase Job Safety for North American Occupational Safety and Health Week
In an ongoing effort to increase public awareness on the importance of workplace safety, the OSHA and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) will kick-off the annual North American Occupational Safety and Health Week 2006, which runs April 30 - May 6.
The NAOSH Week national kick-off in D.C. will address key occupational safety, health and environmental issues and initiatives aimed at reducing workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses for teen workers in the landscaping, construction and transportation industries. The event will also feature the winners of the fourth annual ASSE national kids' 'Safety-on-the-Job' poster contest from around the U.S., Canada and 30 other trade organizations representing all industries.
NAOSH week is intended to focus the attention of employers, employees, and all partners in occupational safety, health and the environment on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace; to increase the understanding of the benefits of investment in occupational safety and health; and, to encourage new health, safety and environmental activities.
Missouri Remembers Workers that Lost Their Lives in Workplace Accidents
Missouri Governor Blunt proclaimed April 23 through April 29, 2006 as Worker’s Memorial Week and encouraged all Missourians to remember and pay tribute to those workers who have lost their lives or were injured on the job.
“During this week we reflect on and remember those who have been killed or injured on the job and salute those who help to make workplaces safe and healthy,” said Gov. Blunt. “This is also a time to renew our commitment to workplace safety so that we continue to protect those working in our state.”
Unfortunately, each year there are thousands of workplace fatalities and injuries that occur throughout the United States. In Missouri, 119 workplace fatality cases were reported and more than 142,000 workers were injured in the workplace in 2005, according to data released by the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
“It is important to not only honor workers who have lost their lives or been injured on the job, but to look ahead to prevent future tragedies,” said Katharine Barondeau, acting director of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. “Missouri is one of a few states that provides not one, but three safety and health programs to assist employers in developing, implementing and maintaining safer workplaces.”
The first safety program offered is the On-Site Safety and Health Consultation Program. Professional trained consultants will visit a small business employer to identify and recommend corrections for serious safety and health hazards. They also conduct chemical and noise surveys at no cost. The second safety program available to employers is the Missouri Workers’ Safety Program. This program also assists in reducing workplace accidents and provides advice on ways to reduce workers’ compensation insurance costs. In addition, the program certifies safety programs available from insurance carriers and self-insured employers and safety consultants and engineers available for hire. The third safety program is the Mine and Cave Safety and Health Program. This program provides training and consultation to mine owners and workers, as well as contractors. 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.
Bridgestone Firestone Warren Plant Receives State’s Highest Honor for Workplace Safety
Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner James Neeley joined Governor Phil Bredesen in a recognition ceremony at the Bridgestone Firestone plant today in Morrison. The Warren County plant was chosen to receive the Volunteer STAR (Safety Through Accountability and Recognition) award for Workplace Safety and Health.
The Volunteer STAR award is the state’s highest honor for workplace safety and health and a nationally recognized program. The standard for participation in the STAR program is the confirmation of a company’s safety and health program which helps reduce accidents and injuries.
“I'm pleased to be here today to recognize the team members of Bridgestone Firestone's Warren County plant for demonstrating a commitment to protecting the health and safety of its workers," said Governor Bredesen. "This focus on protection is a hallmark of the company's dedication to quality, and we are certainly fortunate to have corporate citizens of this caliber in Tennessee.”
“The evaluation criteria for the Volunteer STAR are demanding," said Commissioner James Neeley who presented the award with Governor Bredesen today at the Morrison facility. "Achieving the required level of safety shows the employees at this Bridgestone Firestone plant are strongly committed to maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. It's a tribute to the company that its employees work to sustain such a notable safety record."
Bridgestone Firestone employees played a crucial role in the initial development of the Tennessee Volunteer STAR program. The Warren County facility became the third Volunteer STAR site in 1997. The facility was subsequently recertified in 2000 and now again in 2006.
“I am honored to be here and recognize the outstanding achievements of our Warren County teammates,” said Mark Emkes, chairman and CEO of Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc., and Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC. “This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our teammates who work to build world-class products while at the same time put a strong focus on safety.
To obtain an application or additional information on the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health (TOSHA) Safety Awards Program, contact the safety grant manager in Nashville at (800) 325-9901 or (615) 741- 5281.
NIOSH Workers Memorial Day 2006: Statement by NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D.
Work-related fatalities and injuries are not an inevitable cost of doing business. As Workers Memorial Day gives pause for remembering and honoring men and women who have been killed and injured on the job, it also reminds us that occupational injuries, illnesses, and deaths can be prevented.
Thirty-five years ago, OSHA and NIOSH reflected a national determination to ensure safe and healthful workplaces for all men and women who draw paychecks. The same spirit led NIOSH and its partners to unveil the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) in 1996, at a time when the challenges facing all of us were growing more complex and demanding. Historically, NORA offered the first national blueprint ever for designing and stimulating research that would do the most to reduce the toll of workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.
We are proud that NORA has led to many advancements in research, and to new avenues for translating those findings into practical, effective interventions in a wide range of workplaces, from hospitals and construction sites to farm fields and mines, to name a few. These advancements mean that working men and women are saved from painful, costly, and potentially disabling or fatal injuries and illnesses. In the broader view as well, all of us benefit in some way from these innovations that have helped to make businesses safer, more productive, more secure, and more efficient.
As recent headlines demonstrate, an urgent need remains for strong, results-driven safety and health research. Critical problems persist in many traditional industries, as demonstrated by the tragic West Virginia coal mine disasters earlier this year. At the same time, the emerging economy of the 21st Century brings a host of new concerns, as illustrated by the current national dialogue on the occupational safety and health implications of nanotechnology. NORA enters its second decade this year, rededicated and reinvigorated to address the needs of the next 10 years. We will continue to work diligently with our partners and stakeholders to design and conduct research that makes a real difference in the workplace.
OSHA Renews Alliance with the Industrial Truck Association
OSHA Administrator Ed Foulke signed a two-year renewal for the OSHA and ITA Alliance to provide even more opportunities for continued achievement in advancing workplace safety and health. Said Foulke: "It is a pleasure that early in my tenure as OSHA's assistant secretary I am able to continue this important link with ITA. This is an organization whose leadership recognizes that our cooperative relationship has already made a difference in the safety and health of thousands of workers who use powered industrial trucks. It is important that we continue our efforts to reduce the amount of preventable forklift-related injuries that occur each year."
"The industrial truck industry appreciates OSHA for the cooperation that has been exhibited in the development and implementation of this Alliance," added ITA President James J. Malvaso. "We are especially pleased with the results of the joint web links, the availability of speakers and exchange of information dealing with lift trucks, and the success of our best practices seminar which was organized for OSHA compliance officers in Florida dealing with lift trucks."
Throughout the first two years of the Alliance, OSHA and ITA have developed several programs and projects focusing on the industrial truck industry. As mentioned by Malvaso, the best practices seminar held in February in Tampa included a general overview of powered industrial trucks, and presentations that addressed specific safety applications including capacity/load handling and stability, and operator safety rules.
Both OSHA and ITA will continue the development of new electronic assistance tools on the safe use and operation of the trucks, including the issues concerning youth workers. OSHA and ITA will also work together to develop information on the safe operation of powered industrial trucks for possible inclusion in operators' manuals, and distribution through both print and electronic media and from the organization's respective websites.
Founded in 1917, ITA represents manufactures of lift trucks and their supplies and works with federal and state regulatory agencies and standards setting organizations on safety and health, environmental, and operator issues. ITA members also manufacture tow tractors, rough terrain vehicles, hand-pallet trucks and automated guided vehicles.
Cal/OSHA Makes Emergency Heat Illness Regulation Permanent
California's occupational safety and health officials at Cal/OSHA will make permanent the emergency heat-safety workplace standards, according to Tom Wheeler of Self Insured Solutions, representing four California self-insured workers comp groups. These regulations, intended to protect workers from heat illness, were implemented as a temporary emergency measure in the late summer of 2005, after several on-the-job heat-related fatalities.
"Responding to an unprecedented wave of deaths during a prolonged heat wave, Cal-OSHA decided to act, voting unanimously for an emergency regulation designed to protect outdoor workers, including agricultural and construction-industry workers," Wheeler explained. "Prior to the implementation of these emergency regulations, our organization -- including five agricultural and construction industry self-insured groups impacted by these regulations -- has been advising our covered members to take common-sense precautions to protect the health of their workers during the heat of the day, and we support all prudent actions to protect the lives and health of all of California's agricultural workers," Wheeler said.
While these temporary regulations were in effect, a Cal/OSHA advisory committee worked on a permanent standard for the state, to provide ongoing protection to workers during peak temperature periods. These permanent standards will be formally announced on April 20 by Cal/OSHA.
The new permanent heat-safety regulation covers four critical areas to protect workers:
- Access to adequate supplies of cool water
- Shade for workers who are on the verge of becoming ill or already have started to feel the effects of heat illness
- Training on critical elements of heat illness prevention
- A requirement for the Standards Board to review the feasibility of requiring shade for all rest periods
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