September 21, 2002

OSHA and the Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. (SPI) have established an Alliance to promote safe and healthful workplaces in member facilities.

The Alliance will assist in providing member employers with information and guidance that will help them protect employees, particularly in the identification and elimination of hazards likely to result in amputations, including machine guarding and lockout/tagout; in reducing and preventing exposure to ergonomic hazards; and to provide training to employers in identifying and controlling these and other hazards.

OSHA and SPI plan to use SPI's newsletters, website, workshops and annual meetings to disseminate information and guidance on workplace safety and health information. The Alliance will also promote and encourage SPI members' participation in OSHA's cooperative programs such as compliance assistance, the Voluntary Protection program, Consultation, and mentoring among SPI members. OSHA and SPI will also work together to develop training based on protocols developed in a Strategic Partnership between SPI and OSHA for specific hazards or machinery and deliver it through SPI's learning network and at other appropriate conferences and meetings.

A joint team of representatives from SPI 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.

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.


Nursing and personal care facilities with high injury and illness rates will be the targets of OSHA inspections under a new National Emphasis Program (NEP), which is intended to reduce the industry's high injury and illness rate.

Beginning September 17, OSHA will begin conducting targeted inspections on those nursing and personal care facilities that have 14 or more injuries or illnesses resulting in lost work days or restricted activity for every 100 full-time workers. The enforcement component follows a sixty-day outreach initiative supporting the NEP, which was announced on July 15.

"Our outreach campaign will continue as we educate both employers and workers all across the country," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "However, it's time to take the next step and begin our enforcement efforts on specific facilities that have injury and illness rates almost five times the average for general industry."

The primary focus will be on the hazards most prevalent in the industry, including:

  • Ergonomics primarily relating to resident handling;
  • Exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials;
  • Exposure to tuberculosis; and
  • Slips, trips, and falls.
  • Outreach efforts will continue throughout the enforcement period of the NEP. Initiatives will involve training and information on workplace violence as well as the hazards targeted in the NEP. Area offices will continue working with local nursing home associations, individual nursing facilities, local safety councils, unions, state consultation programs, and colleges and universities.


    Numerous and repeated employee exposures to scaffolding hazards at two construction sites have resulted in OSHA citations and $292,500 in proposed fines against New York Stucco, Inc., Staten Island, N.Y.

    OSHA cited the company for alleged violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at two construction sites, located in Woodbridge, N. J. and Staten Island, N.Y. The firm has until October 3, 2002 to contest the citations.

    According to Robert D. Kulick, area director for OSHA's Avenel, N.J. office, inspections were conducted at both sites as a result of a special emphasis program focused on fall protection, the number one hazard on construction sites.

    As a result of the Woodbridge inspection, initiated on March 13, 2002, the company was cited for three willful violations, five repeat violations and one serious violation, with proposed penalties totaling $167,500. Violations include the company's use of frayed or worn electrical cords, and failure to: use hard hats, fully plank scaffold platforms, provide fall protection for employees on scaffolds, provide safe access to and from scaffold platforms, securely brace scaffolds, secure scaffold poles, and train scaffold workers.

    The Staten Island inspection, initiated April 8, 2002, yielded citations for three willful violations, two repeat violations and one serious violation, with proposed penalties totaling $125,000. Violations include the company's failure to: ensure that supported scaffolds were erected on firm foundations, fully plank scaffold platforms, provide employees safe access to and from scaffold platforms, provide fall protection for employees on scaffolds, brace tubular welded frame scaffolds, and train scaffold workers.

    OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations. A repeat violation is one in which the employer has been cited during the past three years for substantially similar infractions of the law. A serious violation is one where there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.


    Exposing employees to hazards associated with improper electrical wiring, leaving machines and floor holes unguarded, and failure to provide protection against the possible release of stored energy, have resulted in $313,500 in proposed fines against Nan Ya Plastics Corp. America in Bachelor, La.

    The company manufactures flexible plastic film, employs about 270 workers at the site, and is privately owned by Formosa Plastics Group, headquartered in Taiwan. It has received citations for two alleged willful violations, 28 alleged serious, seven alleged repeat and four alleged other-than-serious violations following an inspection conducted by OSHA in response to an employee complaint.

    The alleged willful violations were for failing to guard rotating equipment that could cause amputations of limbs and other hazards.

    The alleged serious violations included failing to train and protect workers against unexpected start-up of equipment and release of stored energy (lock out/tag out); unguarded floor holes/openings and rotating shafts; not providing employees with personal protective equipment necessary to prevent thermal burns and lack of training for exposure to chemicals and fire hazards.

    Seven alleged repeat violations were issued for failure to provide guardrails along open-sided floors; unmounted fire extinguishers; electrical problems; improper floor maintenance and failure to implement lock out/tag out procedures to shut down energy sources.

    Four alleged other-than-serious violations were issued for failing to implement standards that protect workers against hazardous chemicals such as blood borne pathogens and vinyl chloride and failing to provide employees with respiratory fit tests. Such violations have a direct relationship to job safety and health but are not serious in nature.

    Nan Ya Plastics Corp., America has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with Baton Rouge area office, or to contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


    Numerous safety and health infractions, including the failure to prevent employees from being exposed to excessive levels of lead in the workplace, have resulted in $123,750 in proposed fines against New York Solder Co., Inc., located in Bronx, New York.

    OSHA has cited the company, which manufactures solder wire and bar solder from lead-based alloys, for alleged willful, serious and other-than-serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The company has until October 3, 2002, to contest the citations.

    According to Philip Peist, OSHA's Area Director in Tarrytown, N.Y., the action results from an investigation conducted from March 15, 2002 through September 10, 2002, initiated as part of OSHA's national emphasis program on lead. In stressing the severity of the alleged violations, Peist noted that "exposure to lead is one of the leading causes of serious workplace illnesses, and this employer is well aware of the hazards."

    As a result of OSHA's inspection, New York Solder Co. has been cited for six alleged willful violations of federal safety and health standards, which include a proposed penalty of $108,000. The alleged willful violations include the employer's failure to: prevent employees from being exposed to excessive lead levels; conduct exposure monitoring for employees exposed to lead; maintain surfaces free as practicable from accumulations of lead and to provide separate storage facilities for lead-contaminated work clothing and clean clothing; ensure food and beverages were not consumed and tobacco products were not used in areas where employees were exposed to excessive lead levels; institute a medical surveillance program for employees exposed to lead; and failure to require employees to wear protective clothing and equipment to protect them against contact with molten metal and hazardous chemicals.

    The company was also cited for twenty-four alleged serious violations carrying proposed penalties totaling $15,750. These included the employer's failure to: select respirators that provided protection against lead; provide fit-testing, medical examinations and training for employees wearing respirators; provide employees with protective clothing against lead; provide employee training on the dangers of lead; and failure to establish and implement a lead compliance program, among numerous other safety and health infractions.

    Finally, the company was cited for two alleged other-than-serious violations, including failure to certify forklift training and evaluation, and failure to provide covers for electrical junction boxes, for which no penalties were proposed.


    A Bellefontaine, Ohio, company's failure to provide safety training that could have prevented a fatal accident has resulted in citations from OSHA.

    OSHA fined Garman Construction Co. $7,500 on Aug. 30 for five alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, following its investigation of the explosion of a tar kettle on May 24 at a worksite in Bellefontaine.

    According to Jule Jones, OSHA's area director in Toledo, company workers sealing cracks in asphalt used a tar kettle to heat solid tar up to temperatures above 350 degrees to liquefy the tar. The investigation revealed that water was added to oil in a thermal jacket around the tar kettle. The boiling water led to the release of a mist consisting of hot steam and oil that was ignited by propane burners. Employee John Mustain, 23, died after he received severe burns over 98% of his body in the explosion.

    "Our investigation revealed that employees were neither properly trained nor given proper personal protective equipment," said Jones. "Had these safety precautions been in place, this tragedy might have been avoided."

    OSHA issued citations to the company for failing to conduct regular inspections of the job site by qualified workers; failing to have qualified equipment operators; failing to train employees to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions; and failing to train workers who used hazardous chemicals. The company was also cited for failing to make arrangements for prompt medical attention prior to the start of work; failing to ensure that a person certified to provide first aid was at the jobsite; failing to have a Material Safety Data Sheet for each hazardous chemical; and failing to provide personal protective equipment.

    Garman Construction Co. has three employees. OSHA based the amount of the penalty on the size of the company, absence of prior safety violations, and types of violations.

    The company has 15 workdays to pay the assessed penalty, seek an informal conference to discuss the items, or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.