August 15, 2002

OSHA and the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) established an Alliance to promote safe and healthful working conditions in the textile industry by providing ATMI members with information and guidance that will help them protect employees' health and safety, particularly in reducing and preventing exposure to cotton dust, noise, and the hazards of unintended release of mechanical, electrical or other energy.

OSHA and ATMI have committed to work together to look for opportunities to jointly develop and disseminate information through print and electronic means, particularly their respective websites. Each party will also promote and encourage the participation of ATMI members in OSHA's cooperative programs, such as compliance assistance, the Voluntary Protection Program, Consultation, SHARP, and mentoring among ATMI members.

OSHA and ATMI will also recognize that ATMI's Quest for the Best Program companies have been identified by ATMI as having outstanding safety and health program; will encourage Quest members to act as industry liaisons and resources for OSHA's cooperative programs and Compliance Assistance Specialists; will act as mentors to ATMI members; and will share information with other ATMI members on best practices of the Quest members.

A joint team of representatives from ATMI and OSHA will meet regularly to develop an action plan, identify goals and objectives, and track and share information on activities and results of the Alliance. Representatives from the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association and the association of state Consultation Projects will be given the opportunity to participate as well. The Alliance will remain in effect for one year, with annual automatic renewals. It may be modified with the concurrence of all parties. Any signatory may withdraw for any reason with 30 days notice.


Failure to place guards on power transmission shafts and other machines has prompted OSHA to issue citations and fine Sage Well Services, Inc. in Encinal, Texas, $86,100.

An oil and gas exploration company headquartered in Encinal, Sage Well Services, which employs about 205 workers, was cited with one willful and 11 serious safety violations following an OSHA inspection that began March 14 in response to a complaint an employee was injured while lubricating an unguarded shaft.

Safe Well Services was cited for one alleged willful violation for failing to guard power transmission shafts and other machines.

The 11 alleged serious violations were for failing to properly install emergency escape lines, uncovered floor holes, lack of guardrails on platforms, damaged electrical cords, ungrounded portable equipment and failure to train employees properly.

Sage Well Services has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to either comply, request an informal conference with the Corpus Christi OSHA area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


Safety and health hazards at a North Dakota grain elevator that contributed to the suffocation death of an employee have resulted in $115,450 in proposed penalties issued this week against the Chaffee Lynchburg Farmer's Elevator headquartered in Lynchburg, N.D.

The OSHA's Bismarck area office issued four willful and four serious citations following an inspection of a storage bin entry fatality at Chaffee Lynchburg's Leonard, N.D. facility on Feb. 7, 2002.

The citations resulted because the employer failed to require employees to follow basic storage bin entry precautions when routinely entering grain storage bins, according to Bruce Beelman, OSHA Bismarck area director.

An employee of the company entered a corn storage bin to increase the flow of grain being moved by an auger conveyor located beneath the bin. The worker, who became trapped in flowing grain that was approximately ten feet deep, suffocated after being drawn into the auger conveyor.

The four alleged willful violations address the company's failure to: issue a permit for entering the bin; test the atmosphere; lock out power to equipment; prohibit the practice of "walking the grain" without protection; and provide for an observer and rescue equipment when employees enter bins, silos or tanks.

The four alleged serious violations address their failure to: provide fall protection for working on top of rail cars; guarding machinery; training employees acting as observers for bin entry; and limiting the accumulation of grain dust in the facility.

Beelman noted that recent studies estimate that approximately15 fatalities related to grain bin storage entry occur annually in the country.

Chaffee Lynchburg Farmer's Elevator has 15 working days from the receipt of the citations to request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review commission.


For its failure to implement standards that protect workers against hazardous chemicals in one of its process units, Shell Chemical, LP, in Geismar, La., has agreed to pay $135,900 in penalties for citations issued by OSHA.

"In addition to agreeing to the penalties, Shell has worked closely and cooperatively with OSHA to work at improving its overall safety and health procedures," said John Deifer, OSHA's Baton Rouge area director. The OSHA office investigated a Feb. 12 fatality at the Geismar facility where a catalyst technician, working with a highly hazardous chemical, was killed as the result of an explosion.

The company was cited with 14 safety and health violations for failing to implement elements of the Process Safety Management Standards for Highly Hazardous Chemicals, as well as failure to implement lock out/tag out procedures to shut down energy sources and failure to comply with confined space requirements.

The Process Safety Management Standard must be followed by facilities that utilize certain thresholds of hazardous chemicals. It requires the training of workers and an analysis of potential hazards and how to correct them.

Located about 20 miles south of Baton Rouge and headquartered in Houston, Texas, Shell Chemical, LP produces various consumer-use chemicals and employs about 530 workers.


A West Virginia metal manufacturer's high rate of injuries and illnesses among employees prompted an OSHA inspection that revealed serious and potentially life-threatening hazards for the workers. OSHA found 23 safety and health violations at the company's Parkersburg site and proposed penalties of $288,000.

OSHA found that the Louis Berkman Partnership, doing business as Dover Parkersburg, exposed its workers to a range of hazards by failing to provide proper machine guarding, training, and personal protective equipment. The company employs approximately 900 workers, including 46 at the Parkersburg facility. It produces galvanized steel trashcans, pails, mobile home skirting, and funnels.

The citations are the result of a comprehensive safety and health inspection that began on Feb. 15, 2002. The Parkersburg, West Virginia facility came to OSHA's attention through the agency's Site Specific Targeting program, which identifies facilities with injury and illness rates higher than national averages. The company's lost workday injury and illness rates (LWDII) were higher than the industry average of 10.3. (LWDII rates are numbers of injuries or illnesses resulting in lost workdays or restricted activity for every 100 full-time workers).

"Unfortunately, this company placed production and profit before the safety and health of their employees," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Management was not only aware of hazards at the worksite, but even attempted to hide them from us. We will not hesitate to exercise strong enforcement when an employer willfully disregards worker safety."

OSHA issued four alleged willful instance-by-instance citations for failure to provide machine guarding, proposing penalties of $49,500 per instance. An additional alleged willful citation was issued for failure to provide and ensure employees used appropriate personal protective equipment. Total proposed penalties for the willful violations totaled $247,500.

Eighteen alleged serious violations were cited for lack of machine guarding; mechanical power press deficiencies; dangerous noise levels; unsafe electrical practices; storage of oxygen cylinders with fuel-gas cylinders; failure to provide training for hazard communication, energy control procedures, and exposure control for first aid responders; unguarded shafts; and failure to ensure that employees were wearing proper eye protection. Proposed penalties totaled $40,500.

A willful violation is defined as one committed with an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

The Louis Berkman Partnership has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


Exposing employees to hazards associated with noise, unguarded machines, improper electrical wiring and falls from elevation have resulted in $153,500 in proposed fines against American Homestar Corp. in Lancaster, Texas.

The mobile home manufacturer, doing business as Oak Creek Homes, employs about 170 workers at this site and was cited with 28 alleged serious and two alleged repeat violations following an OSHA inspection that began Feb. 6 under OSHA's Site Specific Targeting Program. Under the program manufacturing work sites were selected for inspections based on high rates of lost workday injuries.

American Homestar was cited with 28 alleged serious violations for failing to protect employees from falls, emergency exit problems, lack of guarding for various pieces of power woodworking equipment, improper training for forklifts, electrical problems, noise and chemical exposures and fire hazards associated with spray applications of coatings.

Two alleged repeat violations were cited for failing to provide employees with personal protective equipment necessary to prevent falls and to prevent head injuries. A repeat violation is issued when an employer has been cited for an identical or substantially similar condition within the past three years.

American Homestar has 15 working days from the receipt of the citations to either comply, request an informal conference with the Dallas OSHA area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.