September 13, 2002

Numerous electrical, machine guarding and other safety and health hazards have resulted in $105,775 in proposed fines for a Newington, Conn. manufacturer of plumbing pipes and accessories.

OSHA has cited Keeney Manufacturing Company for alleged serious and repeat violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The citations follow an inspection conducted by OSHA under a program that focuses on workplaces with a higher than average number of workdays lost due to injury or illness.

"The inspection identified a broad cross-section of safety and health hazards that expose employees to the dangers of electrocution, falls, crushing injuries, being caught in moving machine parts, asphyxiation, lead exposure and hearing loss, if left uncorrected," said Thomas Guilmartin, OSHA's area director in Hartford.

The serious citations, which account for $70,775 of the proposed fines, were issued for numerous instances of unguarded or inadequately guarded machinery, several instances of electrical hazards, the ongoing use of a defective lifting hook, inadequate cleaning of lead accumulations and various deficiencies in the company's hearing conservation, respiratory protection, confined space entry and hazard communication programs.

A $35,000 fine is proposed for the repeat citation that was issued for inadequate point of operation guarding on a cutoff saw. OSHA had cited the company for a substantially similar violation in 1999 after a worker's finger was amputated by an unguarded cutoff saw.

Keeney Manufacturing Company 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.


Numerous safety infractions, including the failure to ensure that employees wear personal protective equipment and use grounding rollers around high voltage lines, have resulted in $55,500 in proposed fines against telephone service provider Verizon, located in Rome, N.Y.

OSHA has cited the telecommunications company for alleged serious, repeat and other than serious violations of Occupational Safety and Health Act. The company has until Sept. 26, 2002, to contest the citations.

According to Diane M. Brayden, OSHA's Area Director for Syracuse, the action results from an investigation conducted from March 11, 2002 through July 26, 2002 following a fatal accident in which a lineman was electrocuted while repairing a phone line.

As a result of the inspection, Verizon has been cited for alleged serious violations of OSHA's safety standards, which include a proposed penalty of $30,500. The serious violations included failure to ensure that employees do not approach, come in contact with or take a conductive object close to overhead power lines; failure to ensure employees wear high voltage insulating gloves when required; failure to train employees on safe practices and precautions when performing work in the telecommunications field; failure to ensure employees check electrical impedance on temporary grounds; failure to periodically inspect automotive lifts; failure to maintain throat latches on the hooks of chain hoists; failure to provide approved containers for gasoline and gasoline-oil mixtures; and failure to provide gasoline hoses that were electrically connected to the pumps.

The company was also cited for a repeat violation for failing to provide personal protective equipment, protective devices and special tools needed for the work of employees. The proposed penalty for this violation is $25,000.


Failure to place guards on power transmission shafts and other machines has prompted OSHA to issue citations and fine Sage Well Services, Inc. in Encinal, Texas, $86,100.

An oil and gas exploration company headquartered in Encinal, Sage Well Services, which employs about 205 workers, was cited with one willful and 11 serious safety violations following an OSHA inspection that began March 14 in response to a complaint an employee was injured while lubricating an unguarded shaft.

Safe Well Services was cited for one alleged willful violation for failing to guard power transmission shafts and other machines. A willful violation is one in which there is evidence of an intentional violation of the OSHA Act or plain indifference to its requirements.

The 11 alleged serious violations were for failing to properly install emergency escape lines, uncovered floor holes, lack of guardrails on platforms, damaged electrical cords, ungrounded portable equipment and failure to train employees properly. A serious violation involves a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

Sage Well Services has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to either comply, request an informal conference with the Corpus Christi OSHA area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


Seat belt use is continuing an upward trend in 2002, reaching 75 percent, its highest level since national surveys began in 1994, according to an announcement by Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D., Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

States with primary seat belt laws hit another milestone ¡ 80 percent belt use ¡ while states with secondary laws averaged 69 percent. In states with a primary seat belt law, motor vehicle occupants can be stopped and cited by law enforcement officials for failing to wear belts whether or not another violation has occurred. In states with secondary enforcement, the vehicle must be stopped for another offense before the occupant can be cited for failing to wear a belt.

The new data - drawn from a large-scale observational study conducted by NHTSA in June 2002 ¡ show a 2 percentage-point increase in seat belt use to 75 percent since 2001. The study, known as the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), is conducted periodically by the agency to obtain nationwide estimates of shoulder belt use and motorcycle helmet use to support the agency's occupant protection programs. The last such survey was conducted in June 2001.

A 2-percentage point increase in belt use translates into an additional 6 million users. An estimated 500 lives per year will be saved as a result of the increase.

Some of the strongest gains in seat belt use were in the states participating in the nationwide ¦Click It or Ticket¦ enforcement campaign around the Memorial Day holiday. A total of 30 states participated in the campaign.

The Northeast ¡ historically the lowest region for seat belt use - showed the largest gain, up 8 percentage points between 2001 and 2002. But drivers and passengers in the West still buckle up at the highest rate nationwide ¡ 79 percent.

Though more pickup truck occupants are buckling up ¡ a 3-percentage-point increase ¡ they still have the lowest percentage of all vehicles ¡ 65 percent. Belt use among sport utility vehicle (SUV) and van occupants rose from 75 percent in 2001 to 79 percent in 2002.

Besides indicating a 2-percentage-point increase in overall seat belt use, the latest national seat belt use survey shows that:

  • Seat belt use rates in the South (76 percent), West (79 percent) and Midwest (74 percent) are statistically similar, while the Northeast continues to lag behind (69 percent).
  • Helmet use among motorcycle riders nationwide dropped sharply from 71 percent to 58 percent. The last helmet survey was done in the fall of 2000.

The latest NOPUS estimates were derived from a survey conducted during a three-week period in June 2002. A total of 150,000 vehicles and 900 motorcycles were observed for seat belt and helmet use at 2,000 roadway and intersection sites throughout the country. The margin of error for NOPUS is 2.4 percentage points.


A new construction standard for traffic control signs, signals, and barricades is expected to reduce fatalities and injuries at roadway worksites. The final rule becomes effective December 11, 2002.

"Every year more than 100 workers are killed and 20,000 more are injured at roadway construction sites," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "These workers deserve the benefits of this new rule; improved traffic controls, more effective protective clothing, and the necessary information and guidance that will provide better protection from safety hazards on the job."

The rule requires compliance with either the 1993 or Millennium Edition version of Part VI of the Federal Highway Administration's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), in place of the 1971 MUTCD.

OSHA initially proposed to amend the standard through a direct final rule. The agency withdrew the direct final rule because two of the eight comments received, both seeking a one-year delay in the August 13, 2002, effective date, were treated as significant adverse comments.

Because most affected employers have been required to comply with the updated MUTCD since 1996, OSHA determined that a one-year extension in the effective date is not necessary. However, the agency has added 120 days to the original proposed effective to emphasize outreach and education efforts to assist the industry in training employees on the new rule.

Among the specific changes, the revised standard requires retro-reflective and illuminated devices at intermediate and long-term stationary temporary traffic control zones; warning devices for mobile operations at speeds above 20 mph; advance warning signs for certain closed paved shoulders; a transition area containing a merging taper when one lane is closed on a multi-lane road; temporary traffic control devices with traffic barriers that are immediately adjacent to an open lane; and temporary traffic barriers separating opposing traffic on a two-way roadway.

The revised signs, signals, and barricades standard was published in the September 12, 2002 Federal Register.


Failing to protect workers from impalement hazards at a Gulf Breeze, Fla., drug store construction site may cost two Georgia contractors a total of $60,900.

The agency began an inspection following an April 20 accident that killed a 32-year-old laborer who fell from a scaffold onto a protruding reinforcing steel bar, known as a rebar. The worker was employed by Canton, Ga.-based Chadwick T. Wallace, Inc., a subcontractor at the site where Cannon/Estapa General Contractors, Inc., also headquartered in Canton, was the general contractor.

"Cannon/Estapa failed to take appropriate action even after sub-contractors on the job informed the general contractor that the protruding rebar needed to be covered," said James Borders, OSHA's Jacksonville area director. "Employers must take immediate action once they are aware of serious safety hazards that can cause injury or death."

The general contractor was cited for a willful violation for not guarding the protruding rebar and a serious violation for poor housekeeping. Proposed penalties for the alleged violations total $50,050. OSHA issued three serious citations against Chadwick T. Wallace for not guarding the rebar to eliminate impalement hazards, not providing safe access to scaffolds, and poor housekeeping. The sub-contractor was fined $10,850 for the alleged violations.

According to OSHA, neither employer had a safety and health program in place.

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