Posts Tagged ‘Occupational Safety and Health Administration’

Company Given Max Penalty for Fall Hazards

This employer in Massachusetts let its fall safety hazards fester–and now will pay a steep monetary price exacted by the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Northeast Framing Inc. – based in Lunenberg, Massachusetts – for exposing workers to falls and other hazards following an employee’s fatal fall at an East Boston, Massachusetts, worksite in May 2018. The company faces $311,330 in penalties, the maximum allowed by law.

OSHA inspectors determined that Northeast Framing Inc. failed to provide adequate fall protection for employees, despite repeated notifications from the project’s general contractor. The company also failed to train employees to recognize and avoid fall, ladder, electrical, and other hazards; provide adequate documentation regarding the safety of forklifts; perform regular jobsite safety inspections; notify OSHA of the employee’s work-related death; and provide injury and illness logs to OSHA in a timely manner.

“Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. Employers must provide fall protection and adequately train workers to identify occupational hazards that can cause injury,” said OSHA Braintree Area Office Director James Mulligan.

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

Missouri Contractor Fined for Safety Lapses

Federal regulators have called out another employer for failing to protect its workers from trench hazards.

Arrow Plumbing LLC has ­admitted to willfully violating the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety standards ­by failing to require and enforce the use of trench boxes or other trench protection techniques ­at a home construction site in Belton, Missouri. An employee suffered fatal injuries when an unprotected trench collapsed on him as he worked.

Under terms of a stipulation and settlement agreement entered before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, the Blue Springs, Missouri, company ­– and its successor company R2 Plumbing LLC ­– agreed to implement several safety enhancements. These include hiring a safety consultant to design and implement a trench safety program, and conduct safety and health audits; providing extensive training for employees; reporting trenching-related incidents and near misses to OSHA; conducting meetings at new worksites to address hazards; and completing OSHA construction, and trenching and excavation training courses. The company will also pay a civil monetary penalty of $225,000.

“Trenching and excavation work can be extremely dangerous,” said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Bonita Winingham. “This settlement serves as a commitment by the employer to abate the identified workplace hazards, and implement additional safety measures to make their workplaces safer. The employer has also committed to ensuring continuous compliance with OSHA safety standards to prevent tragedies such as trench collapses from recurring.”

The agreement resolves similar violations cited following a December 2016 trench fatality and a January 2017 inspection where OSHA observed company employees working in an unprotected trench.

High Injury Workplaces Target for OSHA

Federal workplace safety officials are putting high injury businesses under the microscope.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is initiating the Site-Specific Targeting 2016 (SST-16) Program using injury and illness information electronically submitted by employers for calendar year (CY) 2016. The program will target high injury rate establishments in both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors for inspection. Under this program, the agency will perform inspections of employers the agency believes should have provided 300A data, but did not for the CY 2016 injury and illness data collection. For CY 2016, OSHA required employers to electronically submit Form 300A data by December 15, 2017. The CY 2017 deadline was July 1, 2018; however, employers may still provide this information to the database.

Going forward, establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, and establishments with 20-249 employees that are classified in specific industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses will be required to provide this information each year by March 2.

OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program offers employers with up to 250 workers with free, confidential safety and health advice on complying with OSHA standards, and establishing and improving safety and health programs.

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 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 www.osha.gov.

My thanks to Jon Hyman for choosing this blog post for his weekly roundup on the Ohio Employer Law Blog.

Pa. Contractor Dinged Over Fatal Electrocution

Construction companies, take note: There’s a price to be paid for exposing your workers to electrocution hazards

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Insight Pipe Contracting LLC for workplace safety and health violations following an employee electrocution at a worksite in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The Harmony-based contractor faces $331,101 in proposed penalties.

OSHA initiated a safety investigation after an employee suffered a fatal electrocution. Two employees who attempted to assist him were hospitalized after receiving electrical shock. The employees were making a trenchless sewer repair when the incident occurred. OSHA conducted a subsequent health investigation upon referral from the OSHA safety compliance officer who investigated the fatality. OSHA cited the company for failing to develop and implement procedures for confined space entry; train employees on confined space hazards; conduct atmospheric testing before permitting entry into a sewer line; use a retrieval line; and complete proper permits. The Agency placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

“Electrocution is one of the leading causes of death in the construction industry,” said OSHA Pittsburgh Area Office Director Christopher Robinson. “Complying with OSHA safety and health standards is not optional. Employers are required to take necessary precautions to prevent tragedies such as this.”

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. View the citations here and here.

OSHA Dings Ohio Employer $213K for Crushed Arm Caused by Unintentional Machine Start-Up

Federal regulators sent a message this month to employers that don’t operate their machines safely.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited American Excelsior Company – based in Norwalk, Ohio – for machine guarding hazards after an employee required hospitalization when he suffered a crushed arm. Proposed penalties total $213,411.

OSHA investigators determined that the employee sustained injuries when the machine began operating while he removed product build-up. OSHA cited the company, which manufactures biodegradable erosion control blankets, for failing to develop or implement energy control procedures to prevent unintentional machine start-up during maintenance, and train employees in energy control procedures. American Excelsior Company received citations for similar violations at its Rice Lake, Wisconsin, plant in 2017. OSHA has also placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

“This employer failed to implement safety procedures to prevent known hazards,” said OSHA Toledo Area Office Director Kimberly Nelson. “This injury could have been avoided if machine locking devices had been installed.”

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.

[Thanks to Jon Hyman of the Ohio Employer Law Blog for referencing this blog post in his weekly roundup of Oct. 5.]

OSHA Targets Trench-Related Injuries in New Series of Compliance Assistance Resources

The hazards associated with trenching in construction are well-known, and I have written about them extensively.

Now, federal regulators are upping their commitment to eliminate those hazards.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from trenching and excavation hazards. OSHA’s goal is to increase awareness of trenching hazards in construction, educate job creators and workers on safe cave-in prevention solutions, and decrease the number of trench collapses. These resources, which continue the goals of the Department’s recently announced Office of Compliance Initiatives (OCI), encourage and facilitate compliance evaluations.

Trench-related injuries are preventable when workers are properly trained and the required protections are in place. OSHA is working with industry stakeholders and providing new compliance assistance resources.

  • U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta recorded audio public service announcements in English and Spanish that highlight effective ways to stay safe when working around trenches and excavations. A 45-second video, “5 Things You Should Know to Stay Safe,” also highlights well-known and proven safety measures that can eliminate hazards and prevent worker injuries.
  • An updated trenching operations QuickCard provides information on protecting workers around trenches, including daily inspections, and trench wall safety.
  • OSHA’s revised “Protect Workers in Trenches” poster provides a quick reminder of the three ways to prevent dangerous trench collapses: SLOPE or bench trench walls, SHORE trench walls with supports, or SHIELD trench walls with trench boxes. The poster is available in English and Spanish.
  • An updated trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions.

OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program provides valuable services for job creators that are separate from enforcement. OSHA recently published an analysis demonstrating how the agency’s On-Site Consultation Program contributes $1.3 billion to the national economy each year. Job creators who implement workplace improvements can reduce lost time due to injuries and illnesses, improve employee morale, increase productivity, and lower workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

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.

OCI – housed within the Department of Labor’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy – fosters a compliance assistance culture within the Department designed to complement its ongoing enforcement efforts. This Office focuses on helping enforcement agencies more effectively use online resources to deliver information and compliance assistance to help the American people. In August 2018, OCI launched Worker.gov and Employer.gov to provide information about workers’ rights and the responsibilities of job creators toward their workers.

Florida Bridge Collapse Triggers OSHA Fines

You may recall this incident over the summer when a pedestrian bridge collapsed in Miami.

Now the construction companies that build the bridge are being called to account for their alleged recklessness and indifference to safety standards.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Friday, September 14, cited multiple contractors for safety violations after one employee suffered fatal injuries and five other employees sustained serious injuries when a pedestrian bridge at the Florida International University campus in Miami collapsed. The five companies collectively received seven violations, totaling $86,658 in proposed penalties.

OSHA cited Figg Bridge Engineers Inc., a civil and structural engineering company; Network Engineering Services Inc. (doing business as Bolton Perez & Assoc.), a construction engineering and inspection firm; Structural Technologies LLC (doing business as Structural Technologies/VSL), specializing in post-tensioning in bridges and buildings; Munilla Construction Management LLC, a bridge and building construction company; and The Structural Group of South Florida Inc., a contractor specializing in concrete formwork.

OSHA’s investigation determined that the companies failed to protect workers when indications of a potential bridge collapse were evident. Violations included exposing employees to crushing and fall hazards; and allowing multiple employees to connect to an improperly installed lifeline.

“Collectively, these employers failed to take appropriate action and provide the necessary protections to their employees while they were working on the bridge on the day it collapsed,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt A. Petermeyer.

Read the citations for Figg Bridge Engineers Inc., Network Engineering Services Inc., Structural Technologies LLC, Munilla Construction Management LLC, and The Structural Group of South Florida Inc.

The companies have 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.