Failure to Abate Hazards Results in $50,500 Penalty

February 14, 2005

Par Industrial Corporation's continued failure to protect its workers against serious safety and health hazards has resulted in $50,500 in additional OSHA fines. The demolition company was originally cited by OSHA in May 2004 for 27 serious violations of safety and health standards, fined a total of $6,300, and given until June 15 to correct the hazards. The company submitted inadequate abatement verification and was asked to submit additional information. In August, the company was performing work in Kopperston, W.Va., when OSHA received a complaint and a second inspection was initiated.

During that inspection OSHA found that most of the original violations had not been corrected. As a result, 10 failure to abate notices were issued with a proposed penalty of $50,500. An additional serious violation with a proposed penalty of $1,000 was issued because a truck crane was overloaded and tipped over.

"This employer was given ample time to put effective worker safeguards in place but did not do so," said Stanley Elliott, area director of the Charleston OSHA office. "It is inexcusable that a company would compound its initial failure to protect workers by refusing to honor its commitment to fix these hazards."

The hazards include lack of a respiratory assessment program for workers exposed to metal fumes during burning and cutting operations; no person on-site with valid first-aid training; lack of a written hazard communication program for employees exposed to diesel fuel and propane; and problems with flammable liquids, fire extinguishers, and first aid.

The hazards include lack of a respiratory assessment program for workers exposed to metal fumes during burning and cutting operations; no person on-site with valid first-aid training; lack of a written hazard communication program for employees exposed to diesel fuel and propane; and problems with flammable liquids, fire extinguishers, and first aid.

OSHA issues failure-to-abate notices when an employer had agreed to correct cited hazards and the agreement has become final, but a subsequent OSHA inspection finds that the hazards have not been corrected.

Ohio Plumbing Company Fined $150,000 for Trenching and Excavation Violations

OSHA cited Moeves Plumbing Inc. following an August 2004 inspection of a trenching operation in Hamilton, OH. The agency issued citations for three alleged willful violations and one serious violation of workplace health and safety standards involving trenching and excavation operations. OSHA says it found employees working in a trench approximately 9 feet deep were exposed to cave-in hazards due to inadequate or missing safety equipment. Additionally, the agency found improper piling of excavated material that was too close to the open trench, where it could have rolled or fallen back into the excavation, as well as inadequate safe means of entering or exiting the trench. A serious citation was issued alleging trench shields available for use were damaged.

Cincinnati-based Moeves Plumbing has been the subject of 13 previous inspections, including five that resulted in citations for violations of OSHA's trenching standards, according to the agency. Two of the 13 inspections came as a result of employee fatalities due to trench cave-ins.

OSHA Forms Alliance with National Air Transportation Association

The National Air Transportation Association's Airline Services Council (NATA-ASC) formalized the Alliance with OSHA to advance worker safety and health issues, focusing particularly on reducing and preventing worker exposure to inclement/severe weather hazards in and around airport cargo and mail ramp areas, and other areas associated with aircraft maintenance operations.

"I'm looking forward to working with the Council on this very important Alliance," said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Jonathan L. Snare. "We are fortunate to continue to have an opportunity to work with organizations such as NATA-ASC that remain committed to assuring safety and health in the workplace. This Alliance will help assure greater protection of thousands of workers in airport operating areas."

James K. Coyne, NATA President echoed Snare's sentiments saying "the implementation of the Alliance with OSHA is an excellent example of our members' commitment to continuous overall improvement in aviation safety, and the mutually beneficial partnering of government and industry to address Airport Operating Area (AOA) safety."

OSHA and NATA-ASC agreed to develop training and education programs on inclement/severe weather issues and target those programs to workers throughout airport operating areas across the nation. Both organizations will provide NATA members and others with information, guidance and access to various training resources related to the hazards associated with working in environments of extreme heat or cold, or during hurricanes, tornadoes, electrical storms, etc. The development of case studies illustrating the business value of safety and health will be highlighted, as is participation in forums, roundtable discussions, and stakeholder meetings that spotlight inclement/severe weather issues and their impact on workers.

Both organizations will develop and disseminate information through various media, including OSHA and NATA websites and will also look for opportunities to speak, exhibit or appear at conferences meetings or other safety events, including the NATA Safety 1st seminars and the NATA Convention & AS3 Tradeshow.

NATA members provide aviation business services, including on-demand air charter, fuel and ground services, aircraft maintenance and pilot training. The association developed and implemented its Safety 1st program to enhance safety by identifying the knowledge and skills required of professional aviation line service personnel.

Safety in the Meat and Poultry Industry Could Be Further Strengthened

Because meatpacking is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States, the General Accounting Office was asked to provide the Congress with information on the characteristics of workers in the meat and poultry industry and the conditions in which they work, the types of injuries and illnesses these workers incur, how injury and illness rates have changed over the past decade, and factors that may have affected these rates. GAO was also asked to determine what is known about the effectiveness of OSHAÆs efforts to improve safety and health in the meat and poultry industries.

The largest proportions of workers in the meat and poultry industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), are young, male, and/or Hispanic. Although the majority of workers are citizens, an estimated 26 percent of them are foreign-born non-citizens. They work in hazardous conditions involving loud noise, sharp tools, and dangerous machinery. Many workers must stand for long periods of time wielding knives and hooks to slaughter or process meat on a production line that moves very quickly. Workers responsible for cleaning the plant must use strong chemicals and hot pressurized water. While, according to BLS, injuries and illnesses have declined over the past decade, the meat and poultry industry still has one of the highest rates of injury and illness of any industry. The most common injuries are cuts, strains, cumulative trauma, and injuries sustained from falls, but more serious injuries, such as fractures and amputation, also occur. According to BLS, the injury and illness rate for the industry has declined from an estimated 29.5 injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers in 1992 to 14.7 in 2001. Injury and illness rates can be affected by many factors, such as the amount and quality of training, employee turnover rates, increased mechanization, and the speed of the production line. Some evidence suggests that OSHA's efforts have had a positive impact on the injury and illness rates of workers in meat and poultry plants. However, while the criteria OSHA uses to select plants for inspection--which focus on plants with relatively high injury and illness rates--are reasonable, OSHA could improve its selection process by also considering trends in plants' injury and illness rates over time. In addition, it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of OSHA's efforts because the agency does not assign a unique identifier to each plant, making it hard to compare the data it collects on specific plants' injury and illness rates with the information the agency collects on the results of its plant inspections and other programs.

Wastewater Pumping Station Builder Cited for Safety Violations Following Fatal Accident

OSHA recently cited L&L Construction Inc., of Jenks, OK, and Raven Lining Systems Inc. of Tulsa, OK, for a total of 23 alleged safety and health violations following the investigation of a fatal accident last August. The investigation began after a worker died from exposure to hydrogen sulfide at a Tulsa wastewater treatment plant. Penalties for both employers total $94,800.

L&L Construction, a builder of wastewater pumping stations, was cited for two alleged willful and 14 alleged serious violations. The willful citations are for failing to monitor and test the confined space before allowing workers to enter. Willful violations are cited when a company has demonstrated plain indifference or intentional disregard for safety and health standards. An L&L Construction employee died of asphyxiation and another was injured when they entered a confined space and were exposed to hydrogen sulfide.

Alleged serious violations include failing to provide an appropriate respirator; failing to provide a medical evaluation to determine the employee's ability to use a respirator; failing to provide respirator training; failing to conduct evaluations of the workplace; failing to provide safe entry and exit to a confined space, and failing to provide training for confined space work. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Proposed penalties for L&L total $67,800.

Raven Lining Systems, a manufacturer of specialty epoxy coating products, had two employees on site the day before the accident to assure that application of their product was performed correctly, and was cited for seven alleged serious violations for failing to ensure that those workers had proper respiratory protection for entering a confined space. Proposed penalties for Raven total $27,000.

OSHA Offers Safety Deal to Builders

OSHA and the Weitz Co. met recently at the companyÆs West Palm Beach, FL, headquarters to announce that the company has joined the agencyÆs new national program to improve safety. In return, participating organizations are subject to less frequent OSHA inspections.

The agency hopes more builders will join the program. A similar arrangement in two other Florida counties has signed up 15 companies; as a result, the participating contractors have cut accidents by boosting safety training over the past two years.

To participate in the program, a company must have a good safety record and must meet certain safety rules and agree to offer training to workers. OSHA will conduct an inspection to verify the contractor has met its requirements.

In exchange, OSHA will agree not to inspect the contractor's jobs for a year, and it will not cite the contractor for minor safety violations, as long as those violations can be fixed immediately. OSHA still will inspect contractor sites after accidents.

OSHA to Get More Money for Enforcement

President Bush has requested a $467 million budget for OSHA in Fiscal Year 2006. The request represents an increase of $2.8 million from last year's appropriation and includes increases in state plan compliance assistance programs and data analysis and performance measurement. As shown in the table below, most of the increase is earmarked for Federal enforcement. The budget also calls for the reduction of $10.2 million by eliminating the agency's Susan Harwood training grants program. 

Proposed FY2006 Budget
(Dollars in Millions)

FY 2005
FY 2006
Safety and Health Standards
Federal Enforcement
State Programs
Technical Support
Federal Compliance Assistance
State Consultation Grants
Training Grants
Safety and Health Statistics
Executive Direction and Administration
Total, OSHA Budget Authority
Full Time Equivalents *(includes 8 reimbursable FTE)

Selected OSHA Workload Data

FY 2005
FY 2006
Notices of Proposed Rulemaking
Final Rules
Federal Inspections
State Program Inspections
Total VPP Federal VPP Sites
Consultation Visits

Construction Firm Fined $18,000 Following Bridge Fatality

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) recently issued a serious citation to Tutor Saliba Koch Tidewater Joint Venture for violating California workplace safety regulations after an employee died in a July 2004 accident on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge near San Francisco, CA. The bridge connects the north part of San Francisco Bay to the east bay.

The employee who died was part of a crew performing earthquake retrofitting on the bridge. Cal/OSHA alleges that the accident was caused by an employee operating an Ingersol Rand winch without prior training.

The Cal/OSHA reports indicate that the employee operating the winch did not have it in gear, which caused an 1,800-pound steel beam to fall about 20 feet. The beam crashed through a plywood platform the employees were working from, and the impact was enough to cause the inured employee to lose his balance and hit his head, resulting in his death.

Tutor Saliba Koch Tidewater, which was formed specifically for the bridge project, has 15 working days to appeal the citation.

Colorado Gas Station Owners Fined Following Explosion

Owners of a Frisco, CO, convenience store where a gas pump exploded last year have been fined nearly $100,000 for serious and willful violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Seven people were injured in the explosion, which occurred when a clerk tried to fix a slow gas pump. A fuel leak occurred, and the gas ignited and the pump exploded.

OSHA issued a serious violation due to the fact that the gas pump's emergency shut-off switch was not equipped with a glass-breaking device. The company received a willful violation for failure to adequately train employees who performed maintenance on the pump. Additionally, employees were not trained regarding the hazards of working with fuel. Finally, vehicles were allowed in the area while work was being performed.