OSHA LEVIES $3.42 MILLION IN POTENTIAL PENALTIES AGAINST OHIO AUTO PARTS COMPANY

John M. Williams (williams@rwktlaw.com)

Sunfield, Inc., an auto parts manufacturer in Hebron, Ohio has been assessed $3,426,900.00 in penalties by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 57 alleged safety violations. Sunfield, Inc. is a subsidiary of Ideka Manufacturing Company LTD of Ota City in Japan. The Ohio plant is its only United States facility.

The violations are based upon the failure to de-energize equipment before performing maintenance work, thereby exposing workers to the risks of electrocution and other injuries from the movement of the equipment. OSHA cited the company’s extensive violation history as a major factor in the amount of the penalties assessed. These latest citations were found as a result of two serious accidents earlier in the year. Also, Sunfield has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA describes this as “one of the largest OSHA penalties ever filed against a company in the automotive parts industry.” Sunfield has fifteen days to contest these citations.

©RAJKOVICH, WILLIAMS, KILPATRICK & TRUE, PLLC 2016

OSHA CITES ROOFING AND CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES FOR FALL HAZARDS

Noelle Holladay True (true@rwktlaw.com)

On April 18, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued multiple citations to Premier Roofing Company LLC (the controlling employer) and Walter Construction LTD (the subcontractor) alleging various violations related to fall hazards.  On December 21, 2015, OSHA investigated a complaint in Denver, Colorado about employees who were exposed to fall hazards as they were installing shingles on a three-story building.  Two days later, investigators returned to the site and found workers exposed to the same fall hazards.

Premier was issued two repeat violations, and five serious violations, and fined $90,860.  Walter was cited for seven serious violations and fined $16,800.

©RAJKOVICH, WILLIAMS, KILPATRICK & TRUE, PLLC 2016

OSHA FINES PILGRIM’S PRIDE AFTER ACCIDENT IN ALABAMA

Noelle Holladay True (true@rwktlaw.com)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has issued citations to Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. following the agency’s investigation of a workplace accident that occurred at an Alabama poultry plant in September 2015.  The accident occurred when  a machine operator was attempting to reassemble a  chicken-part separating machine when it started unexpectedly, amputating part of his finger.

OSHA cited Pilgrim’s Pride with a “repeat violation”  for “failing to develop, document and train workers on the specific procedures to prevent machinery from starting up” while maintenance and service work is being performed, and issued a $70,000 penalty for this violation.  Pilgrim’s Pride was also issued a “serious violation” for a damaged 115 volt cable on the machine, and issued a $7,000 penalty.

Pilgrim’s Pride can request a conference with OSHA’s area director in Birmingham to contest these findings.

OSHA CITES HOME BUILDERS ALMOST $145,000

John M. Williams (williams@rwktlaw.com)

Under a Regional Emphasis Program (REP) issued by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) Region IV, OSHA inspectors are emphasizing fall protection in the construction industry. In a recent example of the REP’s effects, OSHA cited four contractors in a Florida subdivision for failing to provide adequate fall protection to employees. These Jacksonville contractors were cited for a total of $144,800 in proposed penalties.

OSHA stresses fall protection, recognizing that falls are a leading cause of work-related injury. Fall protection standards for the construction industry may be found here. State sponsored programs will have their own similar standards. 2010 statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 35% of the 751 construction-related fatalities were caused by falls. Employers must be aware of the safety standards and stress full compliance.

©RAJKOVICH, WILLIAMS, KILPATRICK & TRUE, PLLC 2016

WHAT BRINGS OSHA TO YOUR DOORSTEP?

Noelle Holladay True (true@rwktlaw.com)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has jurisdiction over more than 100 million workplaces.  Since OSHA cannot possibly inspect all of these workplaces, it has established a system of inspection priorities for itself.  The following are  situations which trigger an OSHA inspection, listed in order of the priority that OSHA places upon each category:

  1. Imminent Danger Situations.  If there is a situation with a reasonable certainty to cause imminent death or serious physical harm, OSHA will step in immediately.  These situations take top priority.  OSHA will ask the employer to voluntarily abate the hazard, and if the employer refuses or fails to do that, OSHA may seek an injunction prohibiting further work until the dangerous conditions are removed.
  2. Accidents and Fatalities.  If a fatality or accident (resulting in the hospitalization of three or more employees) occurs, OSHA will investigate to determine the cause and to see if any OSHA standards were violated.
  3. Complaints.  The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 gives employees the right to request an OSHA inspection if there is a belief of imminent danger from a hazard, or a belief that an OSHA violation that could result in physical harm.  If such a complaint is made, OSHA will keep the complaint confidential and will inform the employee of any resulting action it takes.
  4. Programmed Inspections.  Next in priority are planned inspections of selected high-risk industries on the basis of such factors such as injury rates, citation history, and toxic exposure.  OSHA may also include random selection as a part of its inspection program.
  5. Follow-up Inspections.  If an employer has been previously cited, OSHA will come back to inspect and determine if the violation has been abated.

These are OSHA’s list of priorities.  But the safest bet is to keep a clean house, and always be prepared for OSHA to arrive at your door.

©RAJKOVICH, WILLIAMS, KILPATRICK & TRUE, PLLC 2016

OSHA CRACKS DOWN ON CONNECTICUT AMUSEMENT PARK

John M. Williams (williams@rkwtlaw.com)

Being an amusement park worker, or “carny” in the vernacular, has long been associated with a certain dreary image. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration adds to that reputation with its recent enforcement action at the Lake Compounce Family Theme Park in Bristol, Connecticut. This enforcement action is another example of the potentially significant penalties employers face for violations of OSHA work place safety regulations.

On January 26, 2016, OSHA issued a press release announcing $70,200.00 in proposed penalties at the park related to the alleged exposure of employees to hazardous chemicals with the potential to cause chemical burns. OSHA also cited conditions related to alleged electrical and respirator hazards.

The park has 15 days to contest the citations and penalties and request a hearing on the merits. A park spokesperson states that the park is working with OSHA and declined to comment on the specifics of the allegations.

©RAJKOVICH, WILLIAMS, KILPATRICK & TRUE, PLLC 2016

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TEXAS FROZEN FOOD DISTRIBUTOR FINED OVER $150,000

John M. Williams (williams@rwktlaw.com)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued eleven citations to Rich Products Corp. of Brownsville, Texas for “serious” violations under OSHA’s Process Safety Management Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program (“PSM”). The citations total $155,000.00 in proposed penalties. The citations are the result of an inspection of the company’s anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system. The following summary of the allegations is from the OSHA website:

  • Some of the 11 serious violations cited include failing to:
    • Provide written notice of annual audiograms.
    • Refit workers for hearing protection and training.
    • Test ammonia detectors, and implement an emergency response plan for potential release of anhydrous ammonia.
    • Provide an annual fit test for respirator use.
    • Provide a medical evaluation to determine employee’s ability to use a respirator.
  • The repeat violations, all relating to the PSM, include failing to:
    • Include a relief design system for the process safety information to maintain adequate pressure.
    • Provide accurate calculations for the ventilation system design.
    • Provide adequate procedures for draining oil pot vessels.

Rich Products Corp. is a frozen seafood distributor. The company has 15 days to contest the citations and request a hearing on the merits if it intends to challenge OSHA’s citations.

©RAJKOVICH, WILLIAMS, KILPATRICK & TRUE, PLLC 2016

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