OSHA Announces Aggressive Enforcement

January 05, 2009

OSHA continued to exceed enforcement goals during Fiscal Year (FY) 2008, according to data recently released. The agency's emphasis on identifying and eliminating serious safety and health hazards has resulted in an unprecedented 80% of all violations issued being in the most serious categories.

Nationwide, OSHA logged 87,687 violations of its standards and regulations for worker safety and health, with 67,052 of these violations cited as “serious.” The proportion of those violations classified as endangering employees is at the highest level ever, and this administration has made more criminal referrals for wrongdoing under the Occupational Safety and Health Act than any previous one, including 12 in FY 2008 alone. Additionally, in FY 2008, OSHA conducted almost 39,000 worksite inspections, surpassing the agency’s goal for the year by 2.4%. On average, 4,000 more workplace inspections were completed each year (38,515) between FY 2001–2008 as compared to the prior administration FY 1993–2000 (34,508).

“Workplace inspections and issuing citations are a critical part of OSHA's balanced approach to improving workplace safety, but the real test of success is saving lives and preventing injuries,” Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Thomas M. Stohler said. “According to preliminary numbers for 2007, the workplace fatality rate has declined 14% since 2001, and since 2002, the workplace injury and illness rate has dropped 21%—with both at all-time lows. This year’s inspection numbers show that the strategic approach used by OSHA—targeting highest hazard workplaces for aggressive enforcement while also using education, training, and cooperative programs to improve overall compliance—can help achieve significant reductions in workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.”

Innovative approaches—such as the Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP), Site Specific Targeting, and National Emphasis Programs (NEP)—are methods OSHA uses to target the most hazardous workplaces and employers with high injury and illness rates. EEP’s purpose is to pursue employers with a history of serious, willful, and/or repeat violations with OSHA. During the program’s first five years (FY 2004 to 2008), OSHA identified 2,471 inspections that qualified for the EEP. Site-Specific Targeting allows OSHA to focus its enforcement efforts on workplaces with the highest rated injuries and illnesses. In FY 2008, 3,800 worksites were targeted for unannounced comprehensive safety inspections. The NEPs focus on major health and/or safety hazards of recognized national significance. They also guide OSHA field offices to plan programs and conduct inspections consistently across the nation. Areas of emphasis include combustible dust, lead, process safety management, diacetyl, and trenching. During FY 2008, OSHA conducted 8,730 inspections related to an NEP.

OSHA Offices Focus on Local Emphasis Programs

These LEP programs are intended to address hazards or industries that pose a particular risk to workers in the office’s jurisdiction. The emphasis programs may be implemented by a single Area Office, or at the Regional level (Regional Emphasis Programs), and applied to all of the Area Offices within the Region.

LEPs are often accompanied by outreach intended to make employers in the area aware of the program as well as the hazards that the programs are designed to reduce or eliminate. This outreach may be in the form of informational mailings, training at local tradeshows, or speeches at meetings of industry groups or labor organizations.

The following is a list of LEPs and Regional Emphasis Programs, separated by Region and noting the involvement of a specific office where appropriate:

Region I

  • Cranes—Providence
  • Expedited Informal Settlement Agreement—Regionwide
  • Fall Hazards—Regionwide
  • Methylene Diphenyl Isocyanate (MDI) in Bedliners—Concord
  • Powered Industrial Trucks—Regionwide
  • Residential Construction—Hartford, Bridgeport, Braintree, Concord, Methuen, Springfield, Providence
  • Tunneling and Underground Construction—Braintree
  • Stone Slabs and Stone Products—Regionwide
  • Fabricated Metals—Augusta, Bangor
  • Mast Climbing—Braintree, Methuen

Region II

  • Fall Hazards in Construction—Regionwide
  • Heavy Highway and Bridge Construction and Maintenance—Regionwide (except Puerto Rico)
  • Logging Operations—Syracuse
  • Marinas—Puerto Rico
  • Gut Rehabilitation and Demolition—Regionwide
  • Local Implementation of NEP on Amputations—Regional
  • Warehouse and Refuse Handlers and Haulers—Regionwide
  • Construction Worksites—Local Targeting—Regionwide
  • Landscape and Horticultural Service Worksites—Regionwide
  • Hotels—Puerto Rico
  • Health High Hazard (Top 50)—Regionwide
  • Isocyanates—Regionwide
  • Virgin Islands General Industry—Puerto Rico
  • Natural Gas Drilling Operations—Syracuse
  • Federal Agencies—Regionwide
  • Metal Recycling Industry—Syracuse

Region III

  • Bloodborne Pathogens—Philadelphia, Allentown, Erie
  • Boat Dealers and Repair Facilities—Norfolk
  • Concrete Block and Brick—Pittsburgh, Erie
  • Dust Explosions—Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre, Wilmington
  • Fall Hazards in Construction—Regionwide
  • Follow Up Inspections—Regionwide
  • Hexavalent Chromium—Regionwide
  • Landscape and Horticultural Services on Military Reservations—Norfolk
  • Logging—Charleston
  • Never Before Inspected High Hazard Manufacturing—Harrisburg
  • Noise Exposure—Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown
  • Oil and Gas—Charleston, Erie
  • Public Warehousing and Storage—Wilmington
  • Residential Construction—Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Charleston, Wilmington
  • Roof Trusses—Charleston
  • Ship/Boat Building and Repair—Norfolk
  • Water Transportation Services—Norfolk

Region IV

  • Falls in Construction (FALL)—Regionwide
  • Landscaping and Horticultural Services—Regionwide
  • Overhead Power Lines—Regionwide
  • Sanitation and Cleanup Operations in Meat Packing, Poultry and Fish Processing Industries (FOODPRO)—Regionwide
  • Canned, Frozen, and Preserved Fruits, Vegetables, and Food Specialties Industry—Savannah
  • Ship/Boat Building and Repair—Columbia, Frankfort, Nashville, Raleigh
  • Scaffolding (FALL)—Mobile
  • Noise and other Health Hazards in SICs including 3281, 2421, 3089, 2448 and 3441—Atlanta East
  • Powered Industrial Trucks—Atlanta West
  • Chemical Process Safety Management—Atlanta West

Region V

  • Amputations—Regionwide
  • Building Renovation/Rehabilitation (GUTREP)—Calumet City, Madison, Milwaukee
  • Fall Hazards in Construction (FALL)—Regionwide
  • High Rise Building Construction for Inspections in Downtown Chicago—Calumet City
  • Powered Industrial Vehicles—Regionwide
  • Road Construction Work Zone Activities—Ohio Area Offices
  • Primary Metals—Ohio Area Offices

Region VI

  • Small Employers—Little Rock
  • Food products—Corpus Christi
  • Construction—Regionwide (covers all observed hazards)
  • MDI in the Spray-On Bed Liner Industry—Regionwide
  • Oil and Gas (OILGAS)—Regionwide
  • Power Line Safety (PWRLINE)—Regionwide
  • Work Zone Safety and Health (WORKZONE)—Regionwide
  • Metal Fabrication—Regionwide
  • Demolition—Regionwide
  • Silica—Regionwide
  • Marine Operations—Regionwide

Region VII

  • Amputations—Regionwide
  • Auto Body Shops—St. Louis, Kansas City
  • Electrical Hazards in General Industry Establishments—St. Louis
  • Falls, Scaffolds, and Electrocutions from Overhead Power Lines PSI (XFALLELE)—Regionwide
  • Federal Agency Establishments (FEDSAFE)—Regionwide
  • Grain Handling—St. Louis, Omaha
  • High Hazard Workplaces Without an OSHA Inspection Since 1996—Omaha, Wichita
  • Logging and Sawmills—St. Louis
  • Powered Industrial Trucks in Construction and Gen. Industry (FORKLIFT)—Kansas City, Omaha, St. Louis, Wichita
  • Residential Construction (RESCON)—St. Louis (St. Chas. and Jefferson Counties)
  • Demolition Work—St. Louis AO
  • Oil & Gas—Wichita
  • Maritime Employers—Des Moines
  • Mechanical Hazards in the Cotton Gin Industry—St. Louis
  • Servicing Multi-Piece and Single-Piece Rim Wheels—Wichita

Region VIII

  • Automobile Lifts—Bismarck
  • Fall Hazards in Construction—Regionwide
  • Grain Handling Facilities—Bismarck
  • Lumber and Wood Products—Bismarck
  • Oil and Gas Well Industry—Regionwide
  • Roadway Work Zone Activities—Regionwide
  • Silica—Bismarck
  • Silica in Construction—Billings, Englewood
  • Silica in the Cut Stone and Stone Products Industry—Denver

Region IX

  • Amputations—Regionwide
  • Forklifts/Warehousing (FORKLIFT)—Regionwide
  • Garment Industry—Commonwealth of the Northern Marianna Islands
  • Labor Barracks—Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianna Islands
  • Programmed Construction Inspections (PROGCON)—Regionwide
  • Shipbuilding, Breaking, and Boat Repair (BOATPROG)—Regionwide
  • Smelters (SMELTER)—Arizona

Region X

  • Construction Fall Hazards (FALL)—Idaho
  • Construction Inspections Under Federal Jurisdiction in State Plan State (FEDCONST)—Alaska, Oregon, Washington
  • Floating Seafood Processors (FISH)—Alaska
  • Inspections in Federal Agencies Using Workers' Compensation Data (FEDSAFE)—Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho
  • Logging Operations in Idaho (LOGGING)—Idaho
  • Logging Operations under Federal Jurisdiction in Oregon and Washington (LOGGING)—Oregon and Washington
  • Employers with Nationally Targeted Hazards at Military Bases, National Parks, and National Cemeteries (PUBWARES) (LANDSCPE)—Washington and Alaska
  • Native Health Care Facilities (AKNHC)—Alaska
  • Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling Platforms (PLATFORM)—Alaska
  • Residential Construction—Boise
  • Shipbuilding and Ship Repair (SHIP)—Alaska, Oregon, and Washington
  • Facility Support Management Service Contractors at Military Bases and National Parks (FACSUP)—Alaska
  • Silviculture Contractors (REFOREST)—Idaho
  • Targeted Methylene Bisphenyl Diisocyanate (MDI) Inspections in Spray-On Bed Lining Operations and Similar Coating Operations—Boise
  • Silica Exposure and Slab Handling in Cut Stone and Stone Product Manufacturing—Boise


Cintas Inc. to Pay Almost $3 Million in OSHA Penalties for Violations of Lockout/Tagout Standards

OSHA has reached an agreement with Cintas Inc. that the company will pay almost $3 million in penalties to resolve six cases currently pending before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. All of the cases involve citations OSHA issued to Cintas for failing to lock out hazardous energy sources on industrial laundry equipment while employees were servicing the equipment. One case arose from OSHA’s investigation of a fatal accident in which an employee fell into a dryer while attempting to correct a jammed conveyor.

“This agreement ensures that Cintas employees in federal OSHA states nationwide will receive the protections mandated by OSHA’s standards,” Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Thomas M. Stohler said. “Cintas also has agreed to a number of other measures that will help create a more safety-conscious corporate culture. This settlement agreement makes such measures binding on the company.”

Under the agreement, Cintas will pay 90% of the amount originally proposed and make substantial safety and health enhancements at all of its commercial laundry facilities regulated by federal OSHA. The agreement also requires Cintas to certify that it has implemented immediate interim measures to protect employees working in the wash areas at these Cintas facilities.

The company will retain a team of independent experts, including an auditor who will ensure that the interim controls are effective; an expert in hazard analysis and controls who will review Cintas facilities and recommend permanent controls; and additional experts who will review Cintas’ safety and health management systems to recommend improvements to those systems. Those improvements will include hiring additional professional safety and health staff, conducting more frequent internal safety inspections, establishing new systems to examine safety and health complaints and accident trends, and providing increased training to Cintas management and employees. OSHA will continue to inspect Cintas facilities and will enforce the terms of this settlement agreement.

OSHA Proposes $140,760 in Fines for Lloyd Industries Due to Workplace Safety and Health Violations

OSHA has cited Lloyd Industries Inc. for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and has proposed a total of $140,760 in penalties. The Montgomery, Pa., facility, which manufactures fire and smoke dampers, has 50 employees.

OSHA initiated its investigation as a follow-up to a comprehensive inspection conducted in 2005. The company has been issued citations for five willful violations with penalties totaling $99,000; four repeat violations with penalties totaling $40,160; one serious violation, with a penalty of $1,600; and two other-than-serious violations, which carry no penalties.

“Lloyd Industries continues to permit hazards that compromise employee safety and health,” said Jean Kulp, area director for OSHA's Allentown Area Office. “The company needs to take immediate action to eliminate the identified violations.”

The willful violations are due to the company’s failure to provide elements of a hearing conservation program to include audiometric testing and training to employees exposed to noise levels above 85 dBA. OSHA issues a willful violation when an employer exhibits plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The repeat violations are due to the company’s failure to properly record employee injuries and illnesses, failure to guard the point of operation on rivet machines, and an electrical hazard. OSHA issues repeat violations when it finds a substantially similar violation to a previous one cited of any standard, regulation, rule, or order.

The serious violation reflects the company’s failure to make the main exit accessible by at least 28 inches wide at all points. 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.

Lloyd Industries has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA’s Allentown office.

OSHA Cites ConocoPhillips Co. Refinery for More Than $100,000 for Workplace Safety and Health Violations

OSHA has cited ConocoPhillips Co. for safety and health violations, proposing $116,500 in penalties. The petroleum refinery located in Trainer, Pa., has 425 employees.

OSHA initiated its investigation on June 19, 2008, as part of a National Emphasis Program (NEP) focus on petroleum refinery process safety management. As a result, the company has been issued 26 serious violations, with a penalty of $91,500, and one repeat violation, with a penalty of $25,000.

"Each of these violations could lead to serious injury and possible death," Al D'Imperio said. "It is imperative that ConocoPhillips abate these hazards to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for employees."

The repeat violation is due to the company's failure to review operating procedures as often as necessary. OSHA issues repeat violations when it finds a substantially similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule, or order.

The serious violations include the company's failure to provide the appropriate devices for material storage; to properly document its use of equipment; to establish a system to promptly address hazard analysis findings; to address the hazard of explosion in occupied buildings; to address human factors; to develop and implement operating procedures; to provide appropriate training; to confirm that all requirements of pre-startup safety review were in place; to follow management of change procedures; and to correct deficiencies that were outside of acceptable limits. 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.

ConocoPhillips has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA’s Philadelphia office.

OSHA Cites American Bridge Following Employee’s Fatal Fall from Tennessee River Bridge Construction Site

OSHA is citing American Bridge for six safety violations, including a fine of $70,000 for one willful violation in connection with an employee’s death.

The employee died after falling approximately 70 feet from a girder at the site of the Highway 62/641 bridge being built over the Tennessee River below Grand Rivers, Ky. The victim was wearing a harness and lanyard but was not secured to an anchorage point.

“This company has a fall protection plan, but management’s failure to enforce their own safety and health policy resulted in this totally avoidable fatality,” said William Cochran, OSHA’s area director in Nashville.

OSHA is citing the company with one willful violation for failing to eliminate employee exposure to fall hazards and failing to ensure that employees properly used personal protective equipment (PPE) while working above heights of 6 feet. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. The $70,000 fine is the maximum allowed by OSHA statute for a willful violation.

The agency is issuing four serious citations to the company for using pulleys that were not guarded on the winch gear, not barricading the swing radius on the cranes, not securing material against accidental displacement, and not using conforming fall protection systems. Each violation carries a $5,000 fine. The company received one other-than-serious citation, with no monetary penalty, for a recordkeeping violation.

OSHA is proposing a total of $90,000 in fines for the combined violations. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to contest them and the proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA’s Nashville Area Office.

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