Posts Tagged ‘fines against employer’

Can’t Take the Heat: OSHA Fines Utility $18,564 For a Worker Fatality in Extreme Temperatures

What’s the cost to a utility company for the preventable death of a worker? Less than  even $19,000, it turns out.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Smith Mountain Investments LLC after a heat-related fatality at a jobsite in Inman, Nebraska.

An employee became ill while performing extreme physical activity in excessive temperatures in July 2019 and later died. OSHA cited the Anson, Maine-based company for two serious safety and health violations for failing to protect workers from hazards associated with heavy physical activity in extreme heat conditions, and ensure medical care was available. The utility pole inspection company faces $18,564 in penalties.

“Death from heat related illness is a preventable tragedy,” said OSHA Omaha Acting Area Director Matt Thurlby. “When working in dangerously high temperatures, employers are responsible for implementing a heat safety program that includes modifying work practices, using controls to reduce heat stress and requiring water and rest breaks in shaded areas.”

OSHA’s Heat page provides information on assessing hazards associated with extreme physical activity while working in elevated temperatures and minimizing the potential impact on employees.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov.

Ill. Plant Fined $1.5M For Four Workers’ Deaths

The weekend brought this sobering news about worker fatalities at a chemical products manufacturing plant in Illinois.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited AB Specialty Silicones LLC for 12 willful federal safety violations after four employees suffered fatal injuries in an explosion and fire at the company’s Waukegan, Illinois, plant on May 3, 2019. The company faces $1,591,176 in penalties. OSHA has placed the silicon chemical products manufacturer in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA investigators determined AB Specialty Silicones failed to ensure that electrical equipment and installations in the production area of the plant complied with OSHA electrical standards, and were approved for hazardous locations. The company also used forklifts powered by liquid propane to transport volatile flammable liquids, and operated these forklifts in areas where employees handled and processed volatile flammable liquids and gases, creating the potential for ignition.

“Employers must employ hazard recognition to protect workers from harm, especially in high hazard industries,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “By ignoring safety and health requirements, this employer created an unsafe work environment with deadly consequences.”

“An employer’s adherence to safety and health standards, including the proper use of electrical equipment and forklifts when handling flammable liquids, is critical to preventing fire, explosions and other incidents that can seriously or fatally injure workers,” said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Nancy Hauter, in Chicago, Illinois.

OSHA provides resources on electrical safety and using forklifts when working with hazardous materials. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov.

$66K Fine For Worker’s Death in Wood Chipper

What’s the cost to an employer of not properly training its employees on the safe operation of machinery, resulting in the employee’s death? Not even six figures in this case.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) willful and serious citations against Tony Watson – doing business as Countryside Tree Service – were affirmed by an administrative law judge with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. OSHA issued its citations after an employee died after being pulled into a wood chipper on his first day on the job at a Schenectady, New York, worksite. The judge’s decision also orders the employer to pay $66,986 in penalties.

OSHA’s investigation revealed that Watson directed the employee to feed materials into the wood chipper, knowing that he had not trained the employee on how to do so safely.

OSHA cited Watson for five violations of workplace safety standards on November 2, 2016. Watson contested the citations to the OSHRC leading to a trial in October 2017. The judge found that Watson willfully permitted the victim to work with the wood chipper without proper safety training, in spite of Watson’s knowledge of the need for such training.

“The U.S. Department of Labor pursues appropriate legal actions to ensure that employers comply with the law to safeguard their employees against potentially deadly or disabling workplace hazards,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff.

OSHA’s Albany Area Office conducted the original inspection. Senior Trial Attorney Terrence Duncan from the Department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in New York litigated the case. View the decision here.

OSHA’s Tree Care Industry webpage offers resources on recognizing and preventing tree care hazards, including Hazards of Wood Chippers, and Solutions for Tree Care Hazards.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

$301K OSHA Fine Against Company for Safety Lapses Leading to Employee’s Death at Airport

Lack of proper safety procedures resulted in an employee’s death at this Texas airport.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Liquid Environmental Solutions of Texas LLC for workplace safety hazards following an employee fatality at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in April 2019. The company faces $301,188 in fines.

The employee suffered asphyxiation while inside a manhole access space that lacked adequate oxygen, and a means to escape. OSHA determined that the company – which provides vacuum trucks to empty the airport’s grease traps – lacked proper procedures, training and equipment for accessing the permit-required confined space.

“This tragedy could have been prevented if the company had followed proper safety procedures, such as air testing, communication systems and non-entry retrieval devices for employee rescue situations,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Loren Sweatt.

“Companies are legally required to test and monitor confined spaces for oxygen content before and during entry,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Eric Harbin.

OSHA’s Confined Spaces page includes a fact sheet on Procedures for Atmospheric Testing in Confined Spaces, a Confined Spaces Advisor, and a booklet on permit-required confined spaces.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citation and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

OSHA Fines Miss. Co. $161K for Trench Hazards

Yet another construction company has come up short in protecting its workers from trenching and excavation risks.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Graham Construction Co. Inc. for exposing employees to trenching hazards after inspectors observed employees installing water lines in an unprotected excavation at a work site in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The contractor faces $161,771 in penalties.

OSHA cited the Escatawpa, Mississippi-based company for failing to protect workers from cave-ins while inside a 7-foot-deep excavation, provide a safe means to enter and exit the trench, and inspect the trench using a competent person. OSHA also cited the company for failing to ensure employees wore reflective clothing while exposed to vehicular traffic.

“In a matter of seconds, employees can be seriously or fatally injured when an excavation or trench collapses,” said OSHA Jackson Area Director Courtney Bohannon. “OSHA standards require protective systems be installed and inspected daily before work begins.”

OSHA recently updated the National Emphasis Program on preventing injuries related to trenching and excavation collapses, and developed a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from these hazards.

OSHA’s trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions. The site includes a trenching operations QuickCard that provides information on protecting workers around trenches, and OSHA’s “Protect Workers in Trenches” poster that provides a reminder of how to prevent dangerous trench collapses – Shore it, Slope it, or Shield it. The poster is available in English and Spanish.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov.

OSHA Dings Employer $223K for Safety Violations Resulting in Employee’s Death at Plant

Nothing this employer does now will bring this dead employee back to life–but maybe it can prevent the next tragedy from occurring.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Kerry Inc. for failing to provide fall protection to employees working in the company’s facility in Greenville, Missouri. The food flavoring company faces $223,525 in penalties for one willful and eight serious safety violations.

An employee fatally fell while trying to extinguish a fire at the plant. After an April 2019 inspection, OSHA determined that the company failed to designate, train and educate a fire brigade properly on how to respond to such emergencies; evaluate hazards to determine the need for personal protective equipment; provide approved self-contained breathing apparatus; complete required safety data sheets; and repair damaged parts. OSHA has placed the company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

“This preventable tragedy should remind all employers of their obligation to evaluate their training programs and safety procedures continually, and to provide refresher training to ensure that workers are prepared for potential emergencies,” said OSHA St. Louis Area Director Bill McDonald.

OSHA offers compliance assistance resources on preventing fallspersonal protective equipment, and respiratory protection.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov.

My thanks to Jon Hyman for featuring this blog post in his October 11 weekly roundup for the Ohio Employer Law Blog.

Dollar Tree Stores Hit With Six-Figure OSHA Fine

Discount stores are good for consumers, but maybe not so much for the employees who work in them.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Dollar Tree Stores at four Idaho locations for exposing employees to unsafe storage of merchandise, and blocked walkways and exit routes. The company faces $898,682 in proposed penalties.

OSHA inspectors initially responded to a complaint alleging that a Dollar Tree store in Boise was exposing employees to unstable stacks and piles of boxes in the store’s stockroom. Soon after, OSHA received another complaint alleging similarly unsafe conditions at Dollar Tree locations in Caldwell, Nampa and Meridian.

At the four stores, inspectors found boxes stacked improperly, often with heavier boxes on top of lighter ones, and blocked aisles and exit routes. In one store, inspectors found an employee who suffered injury and needed help after boxes fell on them. While an inspector shot video of conditions during another inspection, a stack of boxes fell and nearly injured an employee. During their investigation, inspectors learned that falling boxes had injured other employees.

OSHA cited Dollar Tree for violations related to blocked aisles and exit routes, unsafe storage and stacking of boxes, blocked electrical panels, improper use of a ladder, and exposing workers to falls from heights. The citations can be viewed here.

“Dollar Tree Stores has a history of exposing their employees to safety and health hazards,” said Loren Sweatt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health. “Improper storage of merchandise creates unnecessary risks for employees, while blocked exits pose serious risks to the safety of employees and customers in an emergency.”

OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs includes information on how to identify and assess hazards in the workplace.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.