OSHA Cites Company For Failing to Correct Health Hazards

February 19, 2004

A Fairport, N.Y., commercial printer/engraver's failure to correct previously cited occupational health hazards has resulted in an additional $93,600 in fines from OSHA.

OSHA cited Mastercraft Decorators Inc. in April 2003 for violations of OSHA's lead, cadmium, and hazard communication standards. The company was originally fined $3,000 and agreed to correct all cited hazards. OSHA began a follow-up inspection on Oct. 2, 2003, after the company failed to submit proof that the hazards had been corrected.

As a result of the inspection, six "failure to abate" citations, carrying $90,000 in fines, have been issued to Mastercraft for failing to determine if employees were exposed to lead and to cadmium; failing to train employees in lead and cadmium hazards; not providing employees information and training on hazardous chemicals other than cadmium and lead in the workplace, such as lacquer thinners and printing inks; and failing to establish and implement a hazard communication program for employees exposed to hazardous chemicals.

"It's unacceptable when an employer agrees to correct hazardous conditions, then fails to follow through on its commitment," said Art Dube, OSHA's Buffalo area director. "In cases such as this, we will not hesitate to take strong enforcement action on behalf of workers."

Mastercraft was also issued three serious citations for not storing combustible waste material and residues in covered metal receptacles; not using electrical receptacles in accordance with their listing; and not maintaining all surfaces as free as practicable of accumulations of lead. $3,600 in fines is proposed for these items.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its latest 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.

OSHA's List of Low-Hazard Industries Will Remain the Same for Additional Year

The list of low-hazard industries in which small business employers are exempt from OSHA programmed safety inspections will remain the same as those in 2003, the Agency announced. The exemption is for industries with lost workday injury (LWDI) rates below the national private sector rate of 2.6 for 2001.

OSHA traditionally revises the list  every year in accordance with the latest BLS LWDI data to update the list of exempt industries in SIC codes having an LWDI rate below the national, private sector rate. However, this year the appendix cannot be updated due to changes in OSHA's recordkeeping rule that affect the manner in which BLS reports occupational injuries.

Since the mid 1970s, Congress has placed language in OSHA's appropriations (funding) bill that requires OSHA to exempt small business employers (those with ten or fewer employees) that are in industries with low LWDI rates from programmed safety inspections. Due to changes in OSHA's recordkeeping rule, the LWDI rate specified in the Appropriations Act is no longer published. BLS now publishes the Days Away from Work, Restriction, or Job Transfer (DART) rate.

Because appropriations language specifically requires the use of the most recent LWDI rate published by BLS, OSHA is obligated to use the 2001 LWDI data. The Agency is currently taking steps to advise Congress of the changes in the published rates and is proposing a modification to the appropriations language that would permit the use of DART data.

OSHA's directive Enforcement Exemptions and Limitations under the Appropriations Act remains in effect. Inspections that began on or after Jan. 7, 2003 must use the current list in Appendix A (also updated Jan. 7, 2003) of the directive.

Forklift Operations by Young Workers Subject of Safety Initiative

Protecting young workers from the hazards of operating forklifts is the heart of a safety initiative recently announced by OSHA.

OSHA has joined forces with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department's Employment Standards Administration to increase awareness of the hazards associated with the operation of forklifts and the youth employment provisions that prohibit most workers under age 18 from operating forklifts.

"We have to remind all employers of regulations that prohibit most workers under 18 from operating forklifts outside of agricultural operations," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Working with NIOSH and the Department's Wage and Hour Division, we compiled a packet of information that we believe will help protect working teens from being seriously injured or killed."

The bulletin discusses laws and standards that prohibit workers under the age of 18 from operating forklifts for non-agricultural operations, and discusses OSHA's powered industrial truck standard. It also discusses two fatal forklift accidents last year in Georgia and Massachusetts warehouses that claimed the lives of two workers under 18.

Also included in the material is a forklift safety packet previously disseminated by NIOSH and the Wage and Hour Division that includes a one-page NIOSH Alert on forklift safety as well as specific fatality case reports. A "Forklift Stop Sticker" is added for employers to attach to equipment that will remind workers and supervisors of the age prohibition. Finally, a brochure on Labor Department's compliance assistance resources is also provided.

Approximately 2,500 copies of the packet of materials have already been sent to numerous federal agencies, professional associations, and educational institutions. Additionally, a number of Alliance Program participants are distributing the packets. A limited number of additional copies of the packet are available through OSHA's Publications Office by calling (202) 693-1888.

OSHA Amends Commercial Diving Operations Standard

Recreational diving instructors and diving guides can use alternatives to an on-site decompression chamber under a revision to OSHA's Commercial Diving Operations standard, the Agency announced.

The changes to the standard allow these particular divers the opportunity to use nitrox breathing gas under specified conditions, thereby making a decompression chamber near the dive site unnecessary. The changes impact recreational divers who rely on self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) and dive at depths of 130 feet or less. The revision does not change requirements for other types of commercial divers.

"These changes allow the diving industry to practice innovative diving methods and procedures that help prevent diving accidents such as decompression sickness and embolism," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Employers of recreational diving instructors and guides covered by this revision can extend their diving operations and focus even more on the safety and health of their workers."

In nitrox diving, a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen gases replaces compressed air as the breathing gas. The partial pressure of nitrogen (a gas that causes decompression sickness) in the gas mixture is lower than it is in compressed air, and that lower pressure allows the diver to remain longer at specified depths than conventional SCUBA divers who breathe compressed air at those depths, and to do so without increasing their risk of decompression sickness.

OSHA based the revision on a variance granted to Florida-based Dixie Divers, Inc. in 1999. That variance exempted Dixie from OSHA's decompression-chamber requirements for recreational diving instructors and diving guides, under similar conditions.


OSHA Cites Service Center Following Fatal Forklift Accident

OSHA has cited a Richmond Hill Travel Centers of America franchise for exposing workers to safety hazards that contributed to a fatal forklift accident on Aug. 26, 2004. The agency is proposing total penalties of $37,725.

OSHA's investigation found that an employee was reportedly driving a forklift to a parking area when it tipped over, ejecting him from the driver's seat. A section of the forklift cage fell on the driver, causing fatal head injuries.

"Ensuring that drivers are trained to operate forklifts safely and maintaining equipment in safe operating condition are critical to preventing such tragic accidents," said John Deifer, OSHA's Savannah area director.

OSHA issued five serious citations, including two related to the accident: failing to train and evaluate employees assigned to operate forklifts and allowing the operation of defective forklifts. The three other serious citations included failing to provide handrails on steps leading into the service pit area, emergency training, and emergency equipment. The five citations carry proposed penalties totaling $14,225.

OSHA also issued two repeat citations, with $22,500 in total penalties, for exposing employees to fall hazards from unguarded floor openings around service pit areas and failing to train employees in "lockout-tagout" procedures, which render machinery inoperable during maintenance or repair. The agency also assessed a $1,000 penalty for failing to complete a required injury report form.

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

OSHA Cites Steel Processor For Unsafe Overhead Cranes

OSHA has cited Beaver Valley Heat Treating Inc., for alleged deficiencies in maintaining overhead cranes and is proposing more than $144,000 in penalties. The company, a heat-treating facility that processes steel bars and other steel shapes, employs 30 people at its Monaca, Pa. site.

OSHA initiated an inspection in August, responding to a complaint about improper storage of acid, defective forklifts and unsafe overhead cranes. The company was cited for three alleged willful violations, with a penalty of $105,000 and 30 alleged serious violations, with a penalty of $39,250.

Willful citations were issued for failure to implement a preventative overhead crane maintenance program based on manufacturer's specifications, failure to make repairs or provide replacements for defective overhead cranes and failure to ensure employees use the proper parts while operating overhead cranes and not position themselves under the loads.

Alleged serious violations include: improper storage of sulfuric acid; defective fork lifts; lack of ventilation; lack of a respirator program, including employee training and fit testing; lack of eye wash/shower facilities near acid operations; use of defective slings; lack of personal protective equipment; lack of employee training in confined space entry procedures for dip tanks and furnaces; and lack of machine guarding.

Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The company has 15 working days from the receipt of the citations to decide to comply, 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.

OSHA Cites ConAgra for Georgia Workplace Fatality

OSHA has cited ConAgra Foods, Inc., following the investigation of an Aug. 13, 2003 fatal accident at the company's Athens, Ga., chicken-processing plant. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $171,500.

OSHA's investigation found that an employee reportedly was walking through a shipping-and-receiving area on the day of the accident when she was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer truck backing into a loading dock.

The company was cited for failing to provide adequate signs for exits and passageways, and to assure that truck drivers had a clear view before backing up. Other citations, which were not directly related to the accident, include failing to protect workers from electrical and machine-guarding hazards throughout the plant.

The company received 20 serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $61,500, and eight repeat citations, with $110,000 in proposed penalties.

The agency issues serious citations when 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. Repeat citations are issued when the employer had been cited previously for substantially similar conditions and the citations have become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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