OSHA Cites Georgia Pacific for Workplace Fatality

February 05, 2004

OSHA has cited the Georgia Pacific Corporation for failing to protect workers from safety hazards that contributed to the death of an employee at the company's Cedar Springs, Ga., paper products plant.

According to OSHA's investigation, an employee was clearing paper from an operating conveyor on Aug. 5, when the worker apparently fell onto the conveyor and was thrown into an operating "beater pit," where paper was being shredded.

The company was cited for failing to provide guardrails or other means of fall protection to prevent employees from falling into the pit and for failing to conduct required reviews of procedures for rendering machinery inoperable during maintenance or repair.

The agency issued 18 serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $52,000 and four repeat citations with $50,000 in proposed penalties. These citations included failing to protect workers from unguarded machinery and electrical hazards.

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

OSHA Fines Stanadyne For Wide Range Of Safety and Health Hazards

OSHA has cited a Windsor, Conn. manufacturer of automotive engine components for a wide variety of safety and health hazards at its Deerfield Rd. manufacturing plant.

Stanadyne Corp. faces significant fines for 52 alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The fines and citations follow safety and health inspections conducted under OSHA's Site Specific Targeting Program, which focuses inspections on workplaces with higher than average illness and injury rates.

The safety inspection identified numerous instances of unguarded machinery, including woodworking equipment, mechanical power presses, belts, pulleys, gears and saws; lack of fall protection; electrical violations; improper storage of compressed gas cylinders; no annual training on using fire extinguishers to fight incipient stage fires; uninspected slings; failure to evaluate the performance of forklift operators; and failing to determine a forklift's lifting capacity after it had been altered. A total of $64,150 in fines is proposed.

The health inspection addressed deficiencies in the company's hearing conservation program, process safety management, respiratory protection program, confined space entry program, hazardous waste operations, and chemical hygiene program; inadequate precautions to protect employees against lead and blood borne pathogen hazards; and failure to supply workers with required personal protective equipment. These items account for $79,500 of the proposed fines.

Stanadyne Corp. 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.

OSHA Proposes $130,220 Penalty For Michael Angelo's Gourmet Foods Inc. for Follow-up Safety Violations

OSHA has cited Michael Angelo's Gourmet Foods Inc. in Austin, Texas, for failing to correct safety and health violations for which the company was previously cited.

OSHA inspectors found 17 alleged violations during an inspection that began July 23 to verify whether previously cited violations had been corrected. The violations stemmed from a release of ammonia at the plant on Aug. 8, 2000, that sent 11 employees to the hospital. OSHA issued citations with penalties totaling $382,500 on Feb. 5 and 21, 2001, in that case. The company settled and paid $63,050 in fines, promising to correct unsafe conditions.

Currently, OSHA has cited the company with 11 alleged serious, five alleged repeat and one other-than-serious violations. The serious violations involved maintenance and guarding of walking and working surfaces, process safety management, confined space procedures, lockout/tagout procedures to prevent machinery from starting up while employees are doing repairs or maintenance, machine guarding, eyewash stations and forklift standards. The repeat violations involved process safety management, medical evaluations, response to hazardous waste and forklift labeling. The other-than-serious violation involved open trash containers in the restrooms.

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. Repeat violations are cited when a company has had a previous citation for the same or substantially similar condition within three years. Other-than-serious safety violations involve hazardous conditions that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm, but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.

Michael Angelo's, a frozen food manufacturer, employs about 440 workers in North Austin. On Dec. 11, the company agreed to pay $140,220 for violations stemming from a fatality investigation that began June 2003.

Michael Angelo's Gourmet Foods has 15 working days from the receipt of the citations to either comply, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA Austin area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Enforcement, Outreach, Compliance Assistance Focus of OSHA's FY-2005 Proposed Budget

OSHA Administrator John Henshaw announced the President's budget for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for FY 2005 is $461.6 million, a net increase of $4.1 million over the appropriation for FY 2004. The budget includes $2 million in new funding to fulfill OSHA's responsibilities under the 14 whistleblower statutes that the agency enforces and $6.6 million increase to expand outreach and compliance assistance programs, including $500,000 targeted at reaching small businesses.

The President's FY 2005 budget request for OSHA reflects the agency's focus on enforcement; outreach, education and compliance assistance; and cooperative and voluntary programs.

"The President's proposed budget makes the best possible use of the resources we have to keep driving down the numbers of workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths," said John L. Henshaw, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. "This is a balanced approach, and it works. This budget will help us achieve a greater impact on worker health and safety."

Under the President's proposed budget, enforcement remains a high priority for OSHA. OSHA is planning to conduct 37,700 inspections of workplaces in FY 2005, the same number as planned in FY 2004. OSHA's responsibilities under 14 various whistleblower statues have expanded, especially with the addition of the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act (Sarbanes-Oxley). The budget includes an additional $2 million to provide essential contract support to sustain the investigative effort and expertise needed to handle whistleblower investigations.

Reaching out to and partnering with employers and employees to help them make workplaces safe and healthy is also at the top of OSHA's agenda. The agency is requesting an additional $6.6 million to expand compliance assistance and outreach activities. This request includes $4.4 million and 2 FTE to provide increased support to the agency's compliance assistance specialists who work closely with employers to improve safety and health programs in their workplaces, as well as to expand the national Alliance program and develop new eTools. It also includes $500,000 to expand assistance to small businesses, which employ more than half the nation's private sector workers. The request also contains a $1.7 million increase for the consultation program.

Other compliance assistance programs will also benefit from the additional funding, including OSHA's voluntary and partnership programs and more targeted outreach to non-English-speaking workers.

OSHA Clarifies Policy on National Emergency Management Plan

OSHA has issued its National Emergency Management Plan (NEMP), a new directive that clarifies the agency's policies during responses to national emergencies. The NEMP outlines procedures to ensure that personnel and logistical and operational assistance are in place to provide technical assistance and guidance within the emergency response structure for responder and recovery workers health and safety.

The NEMP details OSHA's roles and responsibilities during responses to nationally significant incidents, such as those that result in a Presidential Emergency Declaration, the activation of the Federal Response Plan, or a request for assistance from the Department of Homeland Security. It also includes the primary roles and functions that the Agency's national and regional offices will assume while planning for and responding to a nationally significant incident. Each region is required to develop a Regional Emergency Management Plan (REMP) and coordinate with State plan States and Consultation Projects to ensure that roles and responsibilities for OSHA's Federal, State, and local assets in the Region are coordinated and complementary.

The adoption of the plan ensures OSHA's ability to support the National Response Plan and National Incident Management System being developed by the Department of Homeland Security.

The new directive establishes an Emergency Preparedness Executive Steering Committee and Specialized Response Teams (Toxic Chemicals, Biological Agents, Ionizing Radiation, and Structural Collapse) will be created by the Agency to enhance OSHA's response capabilities for incidents involving Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The teams will be comprised of OSHA personnel from the Health Response Team (HRT) and by other national, regional, and area office personnel with subject matter expertise.

OSHA's NEMP describes a federal program change and state plan adoption is not required. However, state plans must coordinate with their regional administrator to assure that appropriate procedures are in place. States can develop their own internal response plan and implementation procedures, and should share these documents with their regional administrator.