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Showing posts from October, 2010

OSHA Investigates death of a Notre Dame Student

The United Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently descended on the death of a student who was filming the football practice on Wednesday. The boy fell down from a scissor lift that was around 50 feet high in the air with wind gusts of more than 50 mph.

OSHA has sent an investigator to the scene of the unfortunate accident. The Notre Dame student, Declan Sullivan, was around 20 years old. An hour and a half before his death, Sullivan wrote “Gusts of wind up to 60 mph well today will be fun at work... I guess I've lived long enough” on his Twitter account. An hour later, probably when he was still up in the lift, he added, “Holy (expletive) holy (expletive) this is terrifying.”

OSHA will be finding out who exactly instructed Sullivan to get into the lift in the first place. As per the guidelines from one of the manufacturers of the type of the lift the student was on, the scissor lift must not be used in wind gusts greater than 25mph. As we can gather from his seco…

Texas power plant recognized by OSHA for safety and health excellence

Every day, you hear OSHA citing a couple of companies for violating some of their regulations. But, awarding penalties is not the only job they do. OSHA also recognizes those companies who demonstrate excellence in effective safety and health management. For example, Power Resources Ltd. in Big Spring, Texas has earned a place in the Voluntary Protection Programs of the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. They have achieved this recognition for maintaining the highest level of safety and health excellence for three years.

William A. Burke, OSHA's acting regional administrator in Dallas, said that the company's outstanding efforts in maintaining excellence in effective safety and health management has led to zero injuries and illnesses over the past three years.

Power Resources Ltd. is a natural gas fueled facility at Howard County, Texas. There are about 19 employees performing functions that include accounting, operations, purchasing, plant main…

OSHA Fines Gun Powder Manufacturer $1.2 million

Once again another company has had to face the wrath of OSHA. This time the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States issued a staggering 54 citations, with several proposed penalties that have mounted up to a total sum of $1.2 million. These penalties were a result of a deadly explosion that took place in May, at the Black Mag LLC, Colebrook site. At that time two workers were killed. Sadly, both were on the job for less than a month.

In total, the company has received 12 willful, 36 serious, four egregious willful and 2 other-than-serious violations. In accordance to OSHA, a plant supervisor and 2 workers were manufacturing a gun powder substitute, when the unfortunate explosion occurred. Furthermore, OSHA also stated that the company’s employer also failed to implement remote starting procedures to establish safe distancing shields and he also failed to isolate operating stations.

This powerful regulatory agency, issued Black Mag 4 egregious willful citations…

OSHA Investigates into the deadly Trench Collapse

Two plumbers were working in a ditch that was near Allen Homes off Blum Street when the water started rushing in. This resulted in a wall of dirt collapsing on them. OSHA is now investigating into the matter.

The firefighters were able to successfully save one man. Unfortunately, the other, Jimmy Robles, died. The company, Universal Plumbing, is the one that is responsible for the trench collapse. However, it has not yet released a statement about what really happened or if the workers had followed the precautionary measures during the collapse. According to the representative of Universal Plumbing, the company is still preparing a statement.

Mark Bowen, the Richmond County Chief Deputy Coroner, says that the body was recovered from about six feet underground. As per OSHA regulations, it is necessary to use steel boxes and reinforcements on trenches that are deeper than five feet.

“Before you go in there or send someone down, think of sending your child in there. You never put anybody in…

Top Workplace Safety Citations Released By OSHA

The failure to communicate hazardous chemicals by employers in a workplace has been found to be the leading safety citation in the general industry by OSHA.

According to the 29 CRF 1910.1200 regulations, workplaces that use hazardous chemicals must develop an extensive hazard communication program which will notify employees about any or all health risks. The program must include all forms of warning, MSDS and employee training.

Chemical importers and manufacturers are also required to evaluate the possible hazards of the chemicals produced or imported by them and information must be provided about the chemicals through labels on packed or shipped containers and more detailed info on material safety data sheets. All employers must prepare and apply a written hazard communication program in the workplace and ensure all employees have easy access to MSDSs and an effective training program must be conducted for all potentially exposed workers.

Again, OSHA has also announced a new penalty po…

Another Great Enforcement Milestone for OSHA

Just recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had announced that it would be reversing the enforcement policy that it has been used since 1983. This policy, primarily allows almost every employer to adopt various types of PPE's and inculcate hearing conservation programs, instead of administrative and engineering controls.

A “proposed interpretation” document has also been published in the Federal Register. Indeed! This is a great enforcement milestone for OSHA, because it has reversed a policy that has been used for 27 years in the construction and the general industry.

From 1983, this regulatory agency has not penalized a single employer, for adopting PPE and hearing conservation programs instead of administrative and engineering controls, unless the noise generated was as high as 100dBA. Engineering and administrative controls are usually not adopted by employers, for they are almost always too expensive. Thus, citations for failure to use them were extremely r…

PETA asks OSHA to Penalize Sam Mazzola

Recently, a thirteen page letter was sent by the PETA Foundation's general counsel to the Director of the Toledo Area Office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Jule Hovi, urging her to penalize the former animal exhibitor, Mr. Sam Mazzola, for completely failing to protect his employees and workers from recognized hazards. The general counsel has also asked her to take immediate action against him, in order to prevent any future attacks.

On August 20th, Brent Kandra, was killed by a 500 pound bear. But Mr. Mazzola came under PETA's radar, for he continued to allow kandra to come into direct contact with the bear, despite knowing the dangers. Hence, this fatality could have been avoided.

Debbie Leahy, PETA's Director, has said that, "Confined to cramped cages and denied everything that's natural and important to them, including any semblance of a life, these bears become ticking time bombs," she further went on to say that, "Mazzola must …

OSHA Fines Colorado Company $39,000

The United States, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has penalized the Tactical Cleaning Company in Commerce City, Colo., for allegedly committing twelve serious safety violations, at its tank cleaning facility. This Cleaning company came under OSHA's radar, after a worker sustained significant burns and died later, from those injuries.

Some of these violations include:

1.Failing to follow permit-required confined space procedures;
2.Failing to test conditions in confined spaces before entry;
3.Failing to provide adequate personal protective equipment and
4.Failing to provide employees with adequate training.

OSHA's regional administrator in Denver, Greg Baxter, said that, "The dangers of entering confined spaces that contain flammable vapors are well known to this industry," he further went on to say that, "For the safety of all their workers, employers must be vigilant when workers enter confined spaces, and take effective and specific protective…

OSHA's Roar Worse than its Bite

Almost two and a half years ago, J.P. Carroll Co., came under OSHA's radars when a worker fell off a roof. However, Jim Carroll, still feels that since the construction industry is an inherently dangerous line of work, accidents sometimes just cannot be avoided.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, had accused J.P. Carroll Co. of failing to properly protect its workers and employees from falls. Carroll on the other hand, is very satisfied with the fact that his work sites are safe. But what really keeps him up at night, is the nagging feeling that his firm is the target of heightened scrutiny by a federal workplace safety agency, that's only looking to make headlines.

The executive director of the Connecticut Roofing Contractors Association, C. Mitchell Sorenson, to which Jim Carroll belongs, said that, “They keep going after the same people,’’ he went on to say that, “They tend to overlook the smaller contractors who are more likely to have unsafe workplaces.’’

The…

OSHA Fines the Postal Service of Huntington $212,500

The federal inspectors, of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, have recently fined the United States, Postal Service of Huntington, more than $200,000, for committing serious willful violations of electrical safety standards.

The news release that was published by OSHA, stated that the Postal service department committed one serious violation and three willful violations. They even proposed a total of $212,500 in fines.

The regulatory agency officials said that, the OSHA inspections had revealed several problems involving similar safety standards for electrical hazards and training. These officials went on to say that the Rhode Island facility, was fined with a total sum of $500,000, after they uncovered eight willful and four serious violations.

Mr. David Michaels, OSHA's Chief, said that, "These citations and sizable fines reflect the Postal Service's failure to equip its workers with the necessary knowledge and skills to safely work with live electrical par…

OSHA Fines a Metal Recycle Plant More than $188,500

The regulatory agency of the United States, OSHA, has penalized Simsmetal East, for exposing several workers and employees to lead hazards, at its Claremont Terminal site, which is located in Jersey City. These proposed penalties have mounted up to a total sum of $188,500.

The director of OSHA's Parsippany Area Office in New Jersey, Kris Hoffman, said that, "Simsmetal East knowingly put its workers at risk by failing to protect them from overexposure to lead, which can cause brain damage, paralysis, kidney disease and even death," he went on to say that, "OSHA is fully committed to holding this company legally accountable for its blatant disregard of federal law."

The company has been penalized for 3 willful violations and 10 other serious safety violations. Willful violations can be defined as violations that are committed with an intentional or a voluntary disregard, for all legal requirements. The three willful violations are:

1.Failing to fit-test workers and …

OSHA Killing the American Dream

We can most definitely agree with the fact that a compliance officer cannot be equipped with the engineering factors of each and every piece of equipment that is out there. However, when the burden of proof is not on them, there is absolutely nothing that can stand in their way.

Just a month after President Obama became the captain of the White House, he signed a budget blueprint, that primarily seeks to increase OSHA's funding. These funds were aimed to, “vigorously enforce workplace safety laws and whistleblower protections, and ensure the safety and health of American workers."

On June 2009, Hilda Solis, the Secretary of Labor, had this to say, "There is a new sheriff in town.” she went on to say that, “Make no mistake about it; the Department of Labor is back in the enforcement business. We are serious, very serious." After reading this statement one often wonders, how much compliance is too much compliance? Absolutely nobody wants to come home in a body bag, but…

OSHA Fines Two Major West Texas companies for serious Safety Violations

Recently, two major West Texas companies were cited for some serious safety and health violations in the unrelated deaths of 3 employees, earlier this year. The regulatory agency, OSHA, has proposed fining the Patterson-UTI Drilling Company $9,500 and the Robinson Drilling Company $17,000 for the April and May incidents.

William Ryan Locke, 35, a Big Spring resident, died on the 1st of April, on a rig that was near Highway 158. Locke was on a 12-foot ladder, when he tapped on a valve connection from a pump union.

The union in turn, struck and destroyed the ladder, which caused Locke to fall and be impaled on the debris. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has thus penalized the Robinson Drilling company, for not properly training employees, on the hazards of using an air winch.

Wade Monroe Bennett, 32, another Big Spring resident, was killed on the 12th of May, when he disconnected from his fall protection on a rig and thus fell off a platform that was 90 feet above the gr…

The Porter Road Paper Mill fined $75,000 by OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA), a federal agency, recently announced that it would be fining the Porter Road paper mill $75,000, for even after the death of a worker on May 12th, the follow up investigation found, “repeat and serious violations” of workplace safety regulations.

Peter Q. Neville, was killed at the Norampac Industries, which is a container board plant. He was crushed between a 5,000-pound roll of paper that was moving on a conveyor belt and a metal wall. His wife Mara, has contacted a lawyer and hence, is now speaking out about the importance of workplace safety. She even wants to let others know, what a wonderful father and husband he was.

OSHA had inspected the Norampac plant after the accident. OSHA’s area director in Buffalo, Arthur Dube, said that, “Our inspections found that the area where the moving paper roll and the barrier intersected lacked guarding to prevent employees from being caught between the two objects,” he further went on to s…

OSHA has Proposed to the Inspection Exemption

The United States, Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA), has recently proposed to narrow the exemption from compliance inspections, that are usually enjoyed by the facilities that participate in the agency's SHARP, which is also known as the Safety and Health Achievement and Recognition Program.

Under the Safety and Health Achievement and Recognition Program, employers often receive exemptions of up to three years, from the programmed OSHA inspections, and only if they have demonstrated exemplary achievement in workplace safety, allowed an on-site OSHA consultation and corrected all workplace safety and health hazards. OSHA programmed inspections are aimed at specific high-hazard workplaces, industries, health substances or occupations.

Currently though, the facilities that the Safety and Health Achievement and Recognition Program offers, is not exempted from non programmed inspections that are intended to address three primary circumstances, they are:

1.Imminent dange…

OSHA has ordered Trucking Company to Reinstate fired Employee

The United States, Department of Labor's, OSHA, has ordered a trucking company, Fort Myers, to reinstate a worker, who was fired after he refused to drive two trucks that were unsafe. The employee had even notified the company about other safety problems.

Furthermore, OSHA had also ordered Zurla Trucking, to pay the driver $125,000, for punitive damages as well as for compensatory damages and other unspecified back wages.

The employee in question, was fired in February 2008, after he refused to operate two trucks, that he found unsafe. According to the federal law, companies are not allowed to fire their employees, if they refuse to drive vehicles that do not meet the federal safety standards.

This decision, that has been taken by OSHA has come under sharp criticism. The Labor Department’s inspector general, even criticized OSHA for failing to investigate several complaints of reprisal, against workers who report safety hazards or other law violations.

The Government Accounting Offic…

OSHA has Fined the Fountainhead Group $83,650

The United States, Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined the Fountainhead Group with a total sum of $83,650. These penalties are a result of nearly, three dozen violations, of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act.

In accordance with the Department of Labor's OSHA, this pest control manufacturing company primarily failed to provide safe access to elevated work locations and to maintain safety devices on heavy machinery.

The three dozen safety violations, were ranked serious, which in turn meant that they could cause serious physical harm and even death, if the problems were not immediately remedied. This further meant that the employer was completely aware of the existing conditions.

The director of OSHA’s Syracuse office, Christopher Adams, said that, “This inspection identified a broad cross-section of hazards, which – if uncorrected – expose employees to potential falls, electric shock, crushing, burns or machinery injuries”, he went on to say that, “Th…

Cal/OSHA has been Ordered to Strengthen and Improve Workplace Safety

The Federal Labor Department, recently announced that it has found serious problems with Cal/OSHA, especially with the regulatory agency's appeal board. Overall, they have ordered Cal/OSHA to improve workplace safety.

On Tuesday, the United States, Labor Department in California, issued a critical report on the enforcement of workplace safety. It has ordered the state to fix this wide array of problems, which even includes, the poor training of safety inspectors and delays in responding to complaints.

These Federal officials, went on to say that, the inspectors of the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, did not always review the company's history statewide, before deciding whether to cite it for repeat violations. They even found out that the division's appeals process "falls short."

The deputy assistant secretary of Labor, Jordan Barab, has acknowledged the problems that were found with the California program. He even said that they were, "relati…

The Heartland Refinery fined $68,900 by OSHA

The United States, Department of Labor's, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), has penalized the Heartland Refinery in Columbus, Ohio, for allegedly committing one serious safety violation, that is failing to control the release of vapors and flammable liquids, that in turn resulted in the July 17, 2010, fire at the facility. Furthermore, the refinery has also been penalized for two repeat safety violations, that were not corrected. These penalties, have mounted up to a total sum of $68,900.

Deborah Zubaty, the OSHA Director of Columbus, said that,"Failing to follow proper procedures to prevent the unintentional release of flammable vapors and liquids in an area where a known ignition source exists creates a serious safety risk to workers, and as this case shows, a high risk of fire in the workplace," she further went on to say that,"There is no excuse for this type of complacency, and OSHA will do all it can to protect employees in the workplace.&qu…

The McDuffie Box Company has been fined by OSHA

The United States, Department of Labor's, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), has penalized, The McDuffie Box Co. Inc. in Thomson, for serious safety violations. According to the press release that was issued by this government regulatory agency, the Box company has been fined, a total sum of $47,550.

As usual, like every other company that's come under OSHA's wrath, this company has 15 business days to either comply with or contest these findings in front of an independent OSHa Review Commission.

However, when the McDuffie Mirror, contacted McDuffie Box Company's owner, Chris Mercer, he said that he did not wish to comment on this subject. His exact statement was, "It's still pending, and I have no comment to make until it's closed."

Furthermore, the director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office, Bill Fulcher, said that, "This injury could have been prevented if the employer implemented OSHA standards for lockout/tagout procedur…

Democrats in Congress want to Toughen OSHA Standards

Although the major regulatory agency is so widely demonized and feared by most American businesses, OSHA is a relative push over. It may be true that OSHA penalizes the bigger organizations with hefty fines, for instance, like the whopping $50 million that BP recently agreed to pay.

Unfortunately, not many know that the 40 year old law, under which this agency operates, usually limits its ability to threaten miscreants with stiff prison sentences. This age old law even, on many occasions, has prevented the agency from holding the company executives personally accountable for the dangerous conditions that go uncorrected.

Unlike the Environmental Protection Agency that has tough regulations and standards, such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act at its disposal, OSHA is merely just a paper tiger. In order to give this regulatory giant more ammunition, the Democrats in the Congress cleverly crafted an OSHA reform legislation that was folded several months ago into another bill, that i…