Employee is Caught in Machinery Results in $89,100 Penalty

April 11, 2005

An Attleboro, Mass., metals manufacturing plant faces $89,100 in OSHA following an Oct. 10, 2004, accident in which an employee suffered crushing injuries after being dragged into a metal-forming machine.

Engineered Materials Solutions Inc., 39 Perry Ave., was cited for a total of 29 alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following OSHA safety and health inspections conducted between Oct. 19, 2004 and Feb. 17, 2005.

Regarding the accident, the safety inspection found that the machine had not been guarded to prevent employees from being caught in its moving parts. In addition, the company had not established and enforced lockout/tagout procedures for employees performing cleaning and maintenance work on the machine. Such procedures are required to prevent the machine's accidental startup by ensuring it is completely shut down and its power source locked out before work begins.

Other conditions cited during the safety inspection included numerous additional instances of unguarded machinery; exposed live electrical parts; ungrounded electrical equipment; lack of required eyewash stations and face protection for employees; slings not marked to show their lifting capacity; missing stair rails; and a flammable storage cabinet that did not meet minimal fire resistance requirements.

A concurrent OSHA health inspection identified several hazards involving cadmium, an extremely toxic metal. These included employees exposed to excess levels of cadmium; ineffective steps to reduce exposure levels; inadequate monitoring of workers for exposure; cadmium-contaminated surfaces in the break room, change room and other locations; inadequate or improper methods of cleaning up cadmium; and an incomplete cadmium compliance plan.

$300,000 Penalty Following Explosion

OSHA has reached agreement with Formosa Plastics Corporation, Illiopolis, Ill., resolving citations issued following an investigation into an April 23, 2004 explosion that took the lives of five workers, seriously injured three others and destroyed much of the facility.

"This agreement offers an increased level of protection as Formosa rebuilds, and allows working men and women the opportunity to become real partners in workplace safety," said OSHA Regional Administrator Michael G. Connors, Chicago. "I'm pleased that these advances can be made immediately instead of waiting for months or longer for litigation to be completed. Further, it is doubtful we could have made this kind of progress solely by litigating the matter, and I'm confident this is the best outcome possible for Formosa's employees."

Among key elements in the settlement are Formosa's agreement to employ at least one independent, qualified consultant with expertise in chemical process safety management to work with design engineers on a new Formosa facility and to work with software engineers to reduce the possibility of human error at a new plant now under consideration by the company. Many of OSHA's citations issued after the investigation centered around process safety management deficiencies.

The company further agreed to retain a process safety management specialist to assist with training Formosa workers on safety at a new plant. Formosa will also conduct audits at its other polyvinyl chloride manufacturing facilities to determine if hazards similar to those identified by OSHA in Illiopolis exist elsewhere. The audits will be performed by persons outside the facility being audited. In return, OSHA has reduced the original penalty of $361,500 to $300,000; changed seven of 43 serious citations to other-than-serious; and reclassified willful citations to unclassified. Changing citation classifications has no bearing on any other related litigation that might arise. Formosa Plastics has also withdrawn its Notice of Contest before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA Finds Safety Violations at Sorrento Lactalis Plant in Nampa, Idaho

OSHA has issued repeat, serious and other-than-serious citations against cheese maker Sorrento Lactalis, Inc., for safety violations found during inspections at the company's Nampa, Idaho plant. The citations carry proposed penalties totaling $109,000.

The serious citation alleges lack of an emergency response plan, hazardous material training, a respiratory protection program, inspections of respirators and drenching or flushing facilities for the eyes. OSHA also found violations related to open-sided floors, an inadequate alarm system, portable fire extinguishers, process safety management, confined spaces, machine guarding and electrical openings.

The repeat citation noted failure to develop and implement lockout/tagout procedures for certain equipment. These procedures render machinery inoperative during maintenance and repair. Other-than-serious violations included floor openings and holes, open-sided stairs, inadequacy of fire doors and exit marking and injury and illness recordkeeping deficiencies.

Sorrento Lactalis has 15 working days following receipt of the citations to contest the violations or request a meeting with OSHA to discuss the violation notices, including methods of correction, length of abatement periods and proposed penalties.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act defines a serious violation as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. A repeat violation is one in which the employer has been cited in the last three years for a substantially similar condition and the previous citation has become a final order.

An other-than-serious violation is defined as one where the most serious injury or illness that would likely result from a hazardous condition cannot reasonably be predicted to cause death or serious physical harm to exposed employees but does have a direct and immediate relationship to their safety and health.

OSHA Fines Grand Forks Contractor $172,600 for Violations of Roofing and Scaffold Fall Standards

OSHA has cited M.C. Roofing, Grand Forks, N.D., for exposing workers to fall hazards at two Grand Forks job sites. The agency is citing five alleged willful and four alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and proposing penalties totaling $172,600.

"The violations resulted because the employer failed to provide adequate protection for employees exposed to fall hazards up to 20 feet above ground level," said Bruce Beelman, OSHA area director in Bismarck. "The employer knew of fall hazards and failed to remove employees from those potentially life threatening conditions."

The citations were issued by the OSHA Bismarck area office following inspections conducted Oct. 7, 2004, at 575 Holzapple St., Grand Forks Air Force Base and Jan. 19, 2005, at 2950 10th Avenue N. in Grand Forks. OSHA cited the company for five willful violations with proposed penalties totaling $160,000. Alleged violations include failing to provide fall protection on a scaffold and failing to provide fall protection training for working on low-sloped roofs.

Four additional serious citations, with proposed penalties totaling $12,000, dealt with the firm's failure to: fully deck the working levels of scaffolds; secure scaffolding; have a competent person supervising during scaffold erection; and provide scaffold training. The company also received a citation, with a proposed penalty of $600, for failing to maintain the OSHA injury log.

Since 1997, M.C. Roofing has been inspected by OSHA's Bismarck Area Office nine times resulting in several citations for fall-related violations. Since 1998, Minnesota OSHA has conducted four inspections of the company resulting in nine violations for fall hazards. Additionally, the company was notified on three occasions by the North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance Loss Prevention Division for specifically not providing fall protection for employees working close to the edge of roofs.

Fall hazards in construction have been targeted since 1983 through a special emphasis program at the Bismarck Area Office. Studies estimate that approximately 68,000 serious injuries and 100 fatalities occur every year from fall-related hazards. Falls are the leading cause of work-related deaths among construction workers nationwide.

OSHA Bills Pending before Congress

The scope of OSHAÆs authority is likely to change if any of the following bills are enacted. For details, click on the links below:

Award of attorneys' fees and costs to small employers when such employers prevail in litigation prompted by the issuance of a citation: 

Increase in time period for contesting OSHA violations from 15 to 30 days:

Other than serious citations could no longer be used as a basis for issuing subsequent, repeat or willful citations

OSHA could not issue penalties if a non-willful violation is corrected within 72 hours.