Less than a year after federal inspectors cited an Ohio rubber-hose manufacturer for 11 machine safety violations, the company now faces an additional $70,000 in fines after safety lapses led a 27-year-old male worker to suffer severe injuries at its Bellefontaine, Ohio, plant.
Inspectors from OSHA investigating the February 16, 2016, injury at HBD/Thermoid, Inc., found an improperly guarded drive belt caught the worker’s left arm and caused lacerations and fractures. The agency issued one willful citation to the company on June 9.
“HBD/Thermoid is a repeat violator that continues to put workers at risk of amputations and serious injuries by ignoring safety rules for industrial machines used by workers who manufacturer rubber hoses at the company’s six facilities across the country,” said Kim Nelson, area director of OSHA’s Toledo office. “The company needs to take immediate action and fix these safety issues at its facilities. Employees and their families pay the painful price when companies don’t follow standards to reduce injuries.”
In May 2015, OSHA cited the Bellefontaine facility, for one willful and 10 serious safety violations and levied penalties of $134,000. The agency initiated the 2015 inspection after receiving a referral from the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Division after an employee died after being caught in an industrial machine at the company’s Salisbury facility.
HBD/Thermoid employs about 1,000 workers corporate wide and manufactures hoses used in a variety of industries, such as transportation, food processing, and agriculture. The company also has facilities in Bell Gardens, California; Chanute, Kansas; Salisbury, North Carolina; Oneida, Tennessee; and Eglin, South Carolina.
FEMA Updated National Planning Frameworks Released
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its partners released the updated National Planning Frameworks for each mission area: Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery. The National Planning Frameworks, which are part of the National Preparedness System, set the strategy and doctrine for building, sustaining, and delivering the core capabilities identified in the National Preparedness Goal. FEMA is also hosting a series of 60-minute informational webinars with interested stakeholders to discuss the updates to the National Planning Frameworks. These webinars look to provide information regarding changes and updates as well as to answer questions related to the Frameworks.
One Worker Dies, Another Injured in Trench Collapse
A mere 20 minutes after an 8-foot deep trench collapsed, burying a 61-year-old plumber under thousands of pounds of soil, emergency responders pronounced the man dead. Partially buried, his co-worker escaped the trench and frantically tried to rescue the man until help arrived.
An investigation by OSHA found neither the men’s employer, nor project’s contractor provided trench cave-in protection for the workers as they installed sewer lines at a residential home project in the 2800 block of Toluca Street in Alliance, Nebraska, on March 21, 2016.
Federal inspectors have cited both Clau Chin Construction, LLC, the men’s employer, and Larry Kessler Construction, LCC, the project’s contractor, with three serious violations following their investigation.
“This tragic death is a reminder of just how quickly an unprotected trench can become a death trap as a worker is buried under thousands of pounds of soil,” said Jeff Funke, OSHA’s area director in Omaha. “Soil dynamics are an unpredictable aspect of all trenching and excavations. Soil gives no warning prior to giving away, burying workers in just seconds. Inspection, protective systems and training are the difference between life and death in cases like these.”
Research shows that a cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 lb, the weight of a small automobile. Trenching and excavation are among the most dangerous construction activities, and cave-ins are often lethal to workers crushed or suffocated by thousands of pounds of soil and rock.
In addition to citing the companies for failing to provide trench protection, inspectors said the employers did not have a competent person inspect the trench before allowing workers to enter. The companies also permitted soil piles within two feet of the excavation site, also a violation.
OSHA has issued citations as follows:
- Clau Chin Construction of Alliance, the homebuilder, faces $31,000 in fines for five serious safety violations.
- Larry Kessler Construction of Scottsbluff, the excavating contractor, faces fines of $21,000 for three serious violations.
OSHA’s trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet and that soil and other materials are kept at least two feet from the edge of trench.
Reich Installation Services Cited After Worker Suffers Fatal Fall
A 27-year-old laborer’s life ended suddenly because his employer failed to have a competent person inspect the rail supporting a scaffold system nearly 80 feet off the ground for visible defects, an investigation by OSHA has found.
On December 8, 2015, Leonardo De Jesus and a co-worker were on a swing-stage suspended scaffold installing a high-bay pallet storage system for a new Kroger distribution center in Forest Park, Georgia. The men were half way up the scaffold system attempting to realign sections of the rail to move the scaffold. Suddenly, the rollers supporting the scaffold came off the rail causing the scaffold to fall approximately 40 feet to the ground. While both workers were wearing fall protection, De Jesus’s fall protection came off the rail and he fell nearly four stories. His co-worker was left suspended by his fall protection and was recovered with minor injuries.
OSHA issued Reich Installation Services, Inc., two willful and two serious safety citations on June 13, after the agency investigated De Jesus’s death and a worker’s injury.
“Reich Installation’s disregard for the scaffold’s installation specifications and the lack of an inspection, after encountering problems, caused this preventable death,” said Keith Hass, OSHA’s acting director of the Atlanta-West Office. “Reich management was advised by a third-party of proper scaffold methods and should not have put these workers at risk.”
One willful citation relates to the fatality for not having a competent person inspect for visible defects in the support system such as rail sections not being connected and gaps between the joints that caused the rollers to come off and the scaffold to fall. The second willful was issued for exceeding the scaffold’s maximum intended load.
The serious violations involve the employer’s failure to ensure employees operating a swing-stage scaffold were trained by a competent person to recognize hazards such as design criteria and maximum load capacity and not ensuring the anchor points used for fall protection were capable of supporting 5,000 lb.
Proposed penalties total $121,800.
OSHA is considering placement of Reich Installation Services in its Severe Violators Enforcement Program. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer’s facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.
Protect Workers from Heat Illness
With temperatures rising, OSHA has reminded employers to protect their workers from heat illness. As part of its Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers, OSHA offers a free Heat Safety Tool - a downloadable app that calculates a worksite’s heat index and displays a risk level to outdoor workers. With a simple click, users can get reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level to protect workers from heat-related illness. The tool is available in English and Spanish.
Water, Rest and Shade: three simple words can mean the difference between life and death when temperatures soar. Remember, protecting workers from rising temperatures is about more than their comfort.
To prevent heat related illness and fatalities:
- Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty
- Rest in the shade to cool down
- Wear a hat and light-colored clothing
- Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency
- Keep an eye on fellow workers
- “Easy does it” on your first days of work in the heat. You need to get used to it.
PhytogenX Inc. Fined $285,300 for Hazards that Caused Amputation and Fire
On June 8, 2016, OSHA issued citations to PhytogenX of Morgantown, Pennsylvania, for four willful and six serious violations.
On December 10, 2015, OSHA initiated an inspection after the employer notified the agency that a worker had a finger amputated by a machine. The inspection was also in response to a separate complaint alleging hazards related to the storage and handling of flammable liquids at the cosmetic manufacturer.
The willful violations involved improper storage and handling of flammable liquids.
The agency found serious violations when PhytogenX:
- Improperly stored, transferred, and processed flammable liquids
- Exposed employees to fall and forklift hazards
- Failed to properly guard a filling machine, which caused the amputation
- Failed to provide fire extinguisher and hazards of flammable liquid training
- Failed to develop and implement a written hazard communication program
“PhytogenX did not uphold its legal responsibility to provide a safe workplace by exposing employees to serious fire hazards, and not training them to recognize warning signs or special precautions required when working with flammable liquids,” said Kevin Kilp, area director of OSHA’s Harrisburg office. “An employee needlessly suffered the loss of a fingertip, which is something that could have been prevented through basic machine safeguards. This company must immediately address the cited hazards to avoid further incidents from occurring.”
Proposed penalties total $285,300.
Dynegy Midwest Generation Fined $92,000 After Worker Loses Fingers in Machine
A 46-year-old worker suffered the amputation of four fingers on his right hand when a feed machine cycled as he reached inside an access door to assist another employee with maintenance. Federal safety inspectors found his employer, Dynegy Midwest Generation, LLC, failed to power down the machinery prior to employees servicing the machine.
OSHA issued one willful and seven serious citations to the Baldwin electrical power generation plant on June 9, after its investigation of the December 7, 2015, injury. OSHA has proposed penalties of $92,000. During the investigation, OSHA found that multi-finger amputations also occurred on this same machine in August 2011 and October 2012.
“Employees should never reach into operating machines to conduct service or maintenance. This was a preventable incident that has severely impacted this employee’s life and ability to earn a living,” said Aaron Priddy, area director of OSHA’s Fairview Heights office. “OSHA’s revised guidelines for the reporting of amputation injuries have led to greater intervention to improve safety. This company needs to take immediate action to fix safety issues at its facilities to protect employees from additional injuries.”
OSHA also found the company failed to:
- Provide hand protection for employees exposed to lime
- Place caution signs on access doors of machinery to warn employees of amputation hazards
- Conduct hazard assessments to determine the need for personal protective equipment
- Conduct periodic inspections of energy control procedures at least annually
Since January 1, 2015, OSHA requires all employers to report any severe work-related injury—defined as a hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye—within 24 hours. The requirement that an employer report a workplace fatality within eight hours remains in force. In the first full year of the program, Illinois employers reported 173 amputations. Amputation hazards remain among the most frequently cited OSHA violations.
Based in Houston, Texas, Dynegy is capable of supplying 21 million homes with safe, reliable and economic energy in Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Lack of Machine Guarding Led to Amputation at Soundwich Inc.
OSHA has issued one repeated, 15 serious violations, and one other-than-serious violation to Soundwich, Inc., after conducting inspections at the aerodynamic and emission control product manufacturer’s Cleveland facility in January and April 2016.
OSHA initiated an inspection in January after the company reported a 55-year-old worker had caught his hand in the moving parts of a machine and suffered severe injury to his right ring finger. Inspectors determined the employee was operating a coil tilter without proper safety guards when a steel coil rolled to the side off of the radius pad and caught and crushed the employee’s right hand. His finger had to be surgically amputated.
The April inspection was opened after OSHA received a complaint alleging unsafe working conditions.
The agency’s Cleveland area office found the company:
- Failed to install machine guarding on a spot welder, drill press, stamping press, and other operating machines
- Exposed workers to fall hazards because platforms lacked a properly designed guard system
- Did not establish a permit confined space program
- Failed to locate, mount and inspect portable fire extinguishers
- Did not ensure compressed air for cleaning be reduced to 30 psi
- Exposed workers to numerous electrical safety hazards such as junction boxes without cover plates
- Failed to keep floors clean of oil and other materials creating slippery working surfaces
“Each year hundreds of workers suffer preventable and life altering amputation injuries because employers like Soundwich fail to install required safety guards and mandate their use,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA’s area director in Cleveland.
Proposed penalties total $89,000.
Five Companies Fined $115,000 for Exposing Workers to Fall Hazards
The deadly fact is this: nearly 40% of all deaths in the construction industry are the result of a preventable fall. Yet, some employers continue to ignore the dangers and put their workers at risk of a debilitating or fatal fall.
At an apartment complex construction site in Lincoln, Nebraska, OSHA found construction contractors jeopardizing the safety and health of workers. The agency’s inspection resulted in citations for five companies working at the three-building complex.
Federal safety investigators observed seven workers employed by East Framing, Inc., of Grimesland, North Carolina, exposed to fall hazards up to five stories high while they did framing work at the site in the 1800 block of P Street.
In addition to East Framing, OSHA cited South Georgia Framers of Statesboro, Georgia, for willfully exposing employees to falls and other safety hazards. The agency cited ProCon Construction Services LLC of Ailey, Georgia, and America’s Best Siding of Fort Collins, Colorado, for exposing workers to hazards on the site. Inspectors also cited Aspen Heights of Austin, Texas, the controlling employer contractor on the project.
“A worker’s life can be forever altered or ended in the seconds it takes to fall,” said Jeff Funke, OSHA’s area director in Omaha. “Controlling contractors and subcontractors have a responsibility to protect workers on its construction sites from falls which cause four out of 10 workplace fatalities in the construction industry. More tragic than that is the reality that these falls are preventable.””
Following its December 2015 investigation, OSHA has issued citations as follows:
- East Framing, Inc., subcontracted for framing work, faces $65,450 in fines for one willful and three serious safety violations.
- South Georgia Framers faces fines of $33,000 for one willful violation and three serious violations.
- America’s Best Siding of Fort Collins, Colorado, was issued six serous safety violations and faces proposed penalties of $9,100.
- Aspen Heights faces proposed penalties of $4,500 for three serious violations.
- ProCon Construction Services, LLC, faces $3,150 in proposed penalties for three serious violations.
Federal safety and health officials are determined to reduce the numbers of preventable, fall-related deaths in the construction industry. OSHA offers a Stop Falls online resource with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The page provides fact sheets, posters, and videos that illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures. OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection be in use when workers perform construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level.
The ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign was developed in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and NIOSH’s National Occupational Research Agenda program. Begun in 2012, the campaign provides employers with lifesaving information and educational materials on how to prevent falls, provide the right equipment for workers and train employees to use gear properly.
Town City Construction Repeatedly Exposed Workers to Falls, Fined $70,000
One hour after six workers atop an Eau Claire residential roof donned required safety harnesses to satisfy a federal safety inspection on May 20, 2016, the inspector returned to the site and found the employees working again without proper fall protection and in danger of falls of up to 14 feet.
This is sixth time since 2010 that OSHA has cited contractor Hector Hernandez, who operates as Town City Construction, for putting his employees at risk by violating fall safety standards.
The agency cited the company with one willful violation and an additional $70,000 in proposed federal fines on June 13. The Appleton-based company has ignored five previous OSHA inspections resulting in fall protection violations cited from 2010 through 2015, including willful violation cited last year.
“Town City continues to callously put its employees at risk for serious injuries or death because the company refuses to use fall protection,” said Mark Hysell, OSHA’s area director in Eau Claire. “Preventable falls account for nearly 40 percent of all deaths in the construction industry. I fear that only serious injury or death of an employee will convince this contractor to use required safety equipment. OSHA is committed to protecting workers from that fate.”
OSHA inspectors saw five Town City employees on a home in the 1100 block of East Tyler Avenue facing down the roof’s slope while tearing off the existing asphalt shingles with tools at the roof’s eave. They also found a sixth employee standing along the rake edge at the peak of the roof, while preparing to install underlayment materials and ice and water guards, across the peak of the roof. Workers were at risk of falls up to 14 feet.
The agency has cited Town City for fall violations six times at Wisconsin work sites. Inspectors issued a willful violation in 2015 in Wisconsin Rapids, a second repeated violation in 2013 in Appleton, a repeated violation in 2012 in Sherwood and serious violations in Appleton in 2012 and Greenwood in 2010. The company has failed to pay fines or respond to previous OSHA citations.
Sign Source USA Exposed Workers to Respiratory, Chemical, and Paint Hazards
For the third time in 10 years, federal safety and health inspectors found employees at a Lima custom sign manufacturing company exposed to respiratory, chemical, and paint hazards.
OSHA cited Sign Source USA, Inc., for seven repeated and two serious health violations on June 14, 2016, after the agency’s December 2015 follow-up inspection. Proposed penalties total $46,970. The agency cited the company for similar violations at the Lima facility in both 2006 and 2012.
“A company repeatedly cited for the same hazard isn’t taking the safety and health of its employees seriously,” said Kim Nelson, OSHA’s area director in Toledo. “Sign Source USA needs to make permanent improvements to its health programs to protect workers from known hazards in their facility.”
- Rags contaminated with flammable liquids were not removed from work areas daily
- Violations of respiratory protection hazards including failing to provide medical evaluations, fit-testing, and training to employees in respiratory use
- Workers were not trained about certain hazardous chemicals in use in the facility
- Containers of flammable paint thinner were not labeled
Dove Die & Stamping Company Exposed Workers to Noise Hazards
OSHA’s Cleveland Area Office cited Dove Die & Stamping Company for two willful and two serious safety and health violations.
The agency opened an investigation at the Brook Park metal stamping facility in March 2016 after receiving a complaint alleging unsafe working conditions.
Investigators found the company failed to:
- Protect workers from excessive noise exposure
- Train workers about noise hazards
- Establish a hearing conservation program including baseline and annual audiograms
“Employers have a responsibility to protect workers from exposure to noise hazards that can lead to debilitating health conditions,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA’s area director in Cleveland. “Training workers, providing and requiring the use of hearing protection and annual audiograms are required to protect worker’s long-term health.”
Proposed penalties total $45,500.
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