OSHA Cites Company for Exposing Workers To Health and Safety Hazards

April 15, 2004

OSHA has cited Diversified Container Services Inc. following an inspection of the container refurbishing facility. The agency is proposing $86,250 in total penalties.

OSHA issued three willful violations to the Jacksonville company, with $82,500 in proposed penalties, for allegedly failing to require the use of fall protection equipment by employees painting the top of shipping containers that were nine feet above a concrete floor; failing to perform mandated hearing testing for employees exposed to noise levels above the permissible exposure limit; and failing to perform medical evaluations for employees required to wear respirators.

The agency also issued three serious violations, with $3,750 in proposed penalties, alleging that the company failed to have a qualified respirator program administrator; failed to properly repair respirators; and failed to assure that employees were correctly fitted with the respirators that they used.

A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

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

Ignoring OSHA Citations Results in Over $77,000 in Penalties

OSHA has cited Kirkplan Kitchens and Bath Fort Myers, Inc., and has proposed a $46,000 penalty after a return inspection to the Fort Myers plant confirmed that the company had failed to correct a dangerous condition observed during a prior inspection. Assessed, but as yet unpaid, penalties since OSHA's first inspection now total $77,525.

OSHA initially inspected Kirkplan Kitchens on Aug. 1, 2003, after receiving information that employees were being exposed to serious safety hazards. The company was issued a citation for five alleged serious violations with a proposed penalty of $1,425.

"This company could have contacted us to discuss the citations and penalties," said Les Grove, OSHA's Tampa area director. "They had 15 working days to do this or to exercise other options, but they chose to do nothing."

Grove added that company officials could have abated the hazards and paid the proposed penalties, or they could have contested OSHA's action before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

After the company failed to provide certification to OSHA that the hazards had been corrected, an investigator returned to the facility. During this Nov. 24 inspection, employees were again observed exposed to two of the cited hazards -- an unguarded table saw and improperly stored flammable liquid. The proposed penalties for these reported "failure-to-abate" violations, which now included the number of days employees continued to be exposed to the hazards, rose to $22,500.

The investigator also observed new electrical hazards and the use of unapproved plastic piping to distribute compressed air throughout the plant, exposing employees to the danger of exploding pipes. These citations carried proposed penalties of $7,600.

After again failing to hear from the company, OSHA returned to the facility for a third time on March 5, and observed that unauthorized plastic piping was still being used to carry compressed air throughout the plant. The proposed penalty for this hazard, $2,000, was increased to $46,000, based on a formula in the Occupational Safety and Health Act which is the original penalty amount multiplied by the number of days the hazard remained unabated - 23 days in this case.

OSHA has begun debt collection proceedings in connection with the August and November inspections.

OSHA Cites Manufacturer for Widespread Safety and Health Hazards

OSHA has cited Connecticut Steel Corporation (CSC), of Wallingford, Conn., a manufacturer of wire reinforcing rods, for a total of 47 alleged willful, serious and other workplace safety and health violations. OSHA inspected CSC after a worker was injured in a fall at the company's plant.

OSHA's inspection identified several fall and tripping hazards, including unguarded floor holes and an unguarded pit opening, defective ladders, missing guardrails and failure to wear body belts with a lanyard while working in an aerial lift. Other hazards included numerous instances of unguarded moving machine parts, blocked and locked exits and missing exit signs, failure to test confined spaces and train workers in confined space hazards, lockout/tagout deficiencies, inadequate training of forklift operators, unmarked, uninspected and damaged slings, inadequate hazard communication training and labeling as well as exposed live electrical parts.

These citations were classified as serious and carry $99,200 in fines. OSHA defines a serious violation is 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.

CSC was issued a willful citation for failing to implement an effective hearing conservation program for workers exposed to excess noise levels. A fine of $49,500 is proposed for this item. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. The company faces an additional fine of $800 for an incomplete OSHA 300 illness and injury log.

CSC has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Trinational Occupational Safety and Health Web Site Launched

The Trinational Occupational Safety and Health Working Group of Government Experts of the U.S., Mexico and Canada has agreed to launch a Web site focusing on occupational safety and health issues.

Also, employer and worker representatives have been selected to advise on issues raised under the Trinational Working Group and participate in its activities as appropriate.

The Web site, which can be navigated in English, Spanish or French, promotes public involvement and education; contains links to each government's occupational safety and health programs and practices; and provides for the exchange of best practice information among the three governments.

The Web site also provides information about the projects and activities of the Trinational Working Group. That group was established under the auspices of the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation, the labor side agreement to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The occupational safety and health representatives join four subgroups within the Trinational Working Group. The four subgroups address: inspector and technical assistance staff training; occupational safety and health management systems and voluntary protection programs; handling of hazardous substances; and the trinational Web page.

OSHA Approves Changes to Washington and Alaska State Plans

The agency announced the changes in the April 19, 2004 Federal Register.

OSHA will assume jurisdiction over Indian-owned establishments on Indian reservations or federal Trust lands in Washington and federally owned native health care facilities and certain military installations in Alaska.

OSHA's agreement with Washington allows the state to exclude from its enforcement responsibility all federally recognized Indian tribes, extending the state plan exclusion previously established for the Yakama Indian Nation and Colville Confederated Tribes. Washington will retain jurisdiction over non-member private sector and state and local government employers located within the reservations or on Trust lands, and member employers located outside the reservations or Trust lands.

OSHA's approval of changes to the Alaska state plan allows the state to exclude coverage of native health care facilities that are federally owned and contractor operated, and of certain military installations, including four missile defense facilities and four Coast Guard facilities. Federal jurisdiction includes coverage of private contractors working on the military installations. The state retains jurisdiction over construction and contract maintenance at these Native health care facilities.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 encourages states and territories to develop and operate their own job safety and health programs. States must set job safety and health standards that are "at least as effective as" comparable federal standards. OSHA approves and monitors State plans and provides up to 50 percent of an approved plan's operating costs.

OSHA Extends Comment Period on Hazard Communication Guidance Documents

OSHA is extending until May 17 the informal public comment period on two guidance documents associated with the hazard communication initiative announced last month.

Guidance for Hazard Determination and Model Training Program for Hazard Communication are two draft documents designed to improve hazard communication by assisting manufacturers and importers of hazardous chemicals to properly evaluate and communicate the hazards of chemicals.


The agency encourages interested parties to comment on all aspects of the guidance documents. Written or electronic copies should be submitted by May 17, 2004 to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. H022J, Room N-2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20210. You may also fax your comments to that office at (202) 693-1648. Ensure the docket number is included in your submission.

All comments and submissions will be available for inspection and copying at the OSHA Docket Office at the above address. Comments and submissions will be posted on OSHA's Web site.

OSHA Announces Targeted Inspection Plan for 2004

OSHA announced that its site-specific targeting (SST) plan for 2004 will focus on approximately 4,000 high-hazard worksites for unannounced comprehensive safety and health inspections over the coming year.

"Enforcement must continue to be the underpinning of OSHA's mission," said John Henshaw, OSHA Administrator. "At the same time, it must be fair, strong and effective to produce change where necessary. Our targeted program does this by allowing us to focus enforcement resources at workplaces where the safety and health risks are high and where they will have the most benefit to workers and employers."

Over the past six years, OSHA has used a site-specific targeting inspection program based on injury and illness data. This year's program (SST-04) stems from the agency's Data Initiative for 2003, which surveyed approximately 80,000 employers to attain their injury and illness numbers for 2002.

This year's program is effective April 19 and will initially cover about 4,000 individual worksites on the primary list that reported 15 or more injuries or illnesses resulting in days away from work, restricted work activity, or job transfer for every 100 full-time workers (known as the DART rate). The primary list will also include sites based on a "Days Away from Work Injury and Illness" (DAFWII) rate of ten or higher (ten or more cases that involve days away from work per 100 full-time employees). Employers not on the primary list who reported DART rates of between 8.0 and 15.0, or DAFWII rates of between 4.0 and 10.0, will be placed on a secondary list for possible inspection. The average national DART rate in 2002 for private industry was 2.8, while the national average DAFWII rate was 1.6.

OSHA will also inspect nursing homes or personal care facilities under this years' program. For the past two years, those workplaces were covered under a separate National Emphasis Program that addressed specific industry hazards. Those hazards, including ergonomic stressors relating to resident handling, bloodborne pathogens/tuberculosis, and slips, trips and falls, will continue to be the primary focus of inspections in nursing and personal care facilities under SST-04.

The agency will again randomly select and inspect about 200 workplaces (with 200 or more employees) across the nation that reported low injury and illness rates for the purpose of reviewing the actual degree of compliance with OSHA requirements. These establishments are selected from those industries with above average DART and DAFWII rates. Finally, the agency will include on the primary list some establishments that did not respond to collection of both the 2001 and 2002 data.

Fatal Accident at Arkansas Poultry Processing Plant Brings OSHA Citations, Penalties for Tyson Foods

OSHA has issued citations to Tyson Foods Inc. in Texarkana, Ark., for alleged willful and serious violations of health and safety standards following the death of an employee who was asphyxiated when he inhaled hydrogen sulfide. OSHA has proposed penalties of $436,000 for the alleged violations.

Tyson Foods Inc. and Tyson Poultry Inc. were cited for five willful, 12 serious and two other violations following an OSHA inspection at the River Valley Animal Foods facility. The inspection began Oct. 10 after an employee who was repairing leaks on a hydrolyser was asphyxiated after inhaling hydrogen sulfide. A hydrolyser processes chicken feathers to make an additive for high-end pet foods. Hydrogen sulfide is a poisonous gas created by decaying organic matter. Headquartered in Springdale, Ark., Tyson Foods employs about 120,000 workers at more than 300 locations nationwide. The Texarkana plant employs about 98 workers.

The alleged willful violations were for failing to protect employees from exposure to excessive amounts of hydrogen sulfide; failing to develop, maintain and implement a proper written hazard communication program; failing to properly identify hazardous chemicals and failing to properly train employees in the detection and hazards of exposure to hydrogen sulfide.

The alleged serious violations include failure to: identify and evaluate respiratory hazards in the workplace; ensure proper breathing apparatus were worn by employees engaged in emergency response activities; develop and implement a proper emergency response plan; properly test employees required to wear a respirator; ensure that respirators were available; and ensure that persons trained to render first aid were available to render aid.

The other violations were for failing to properly maintain the OSHA Form 300 Log of Occupational Injuries and Illness and failing to properly maintain the OSHA 301 form or equivalent for each work-related injury or illness.

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