Posts Tagged ‘Occupational Safety and Health Administration’

Fla. Roofing Company Hit With $1.5M OSHA Fine for Failing to Protect Workers From Fall Dangers

Everyone with a job works to some degree at risk. The risk of being fired or the risk of being injured, among others.

Construction workers for a North Florida roofing company take on more risk than most, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA said on Aug. 9 it has again cited a North Florida roofing contractor for failing to protect its workers from the risks of dangerous falls and other hazards at two St. Augustine work sites.

On Feb. 3, 2017, an OSHA inspector observed employees – without the use of proper fall protection – removing shingles and plywood sheeting from the roof of a multi-story residential structure in the city’s Crescent Beach area. Although the employees wore harnesses, they were not tied off to the rope grabs and roof anchors. After noticing other Great White employees working under similar conditions at a nearby site, a second inspection was initiated immediately as part of OSHA’s regional enforcement program for falls in construction.

OSHA cited Great White Construction Inc., based in Jacksonville, with 14 violations and proposed penalties totaling $1,523,710. Given the employer’s extensive prior history of violations and OSHA’s egregious citation policy, the agency issued 11 separate willful citations for failing to protect employees from fall hazards. OSHA also cited the company for three repeat violations for failing to ensure employees used eye protection while operating nail guns and for ladders used to access roof sites, again exposing employees to fall hazards.

“In the past five years, Great White Construction’s series of willful, serious, and repeat violations has demonstrated indifference towards the safety of their employees,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer. “The company allowed their employees to work without fall protection and made no reasonable effort to eliminate the hazard.”

As a result of these investigations and citations, Great White is now in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program due to high-gravity willful, egregious violations related to fall hazards.

OSHA has investigated Great White 12 times since 2012, and issued 22 citations related to improper fall protection, ladder safety, and eye protection.

Click here and here for the recent citations that OSHA issued to Great White.

Great White specializes in residential and commercial roofing. The company’s workforce consists of approximately 150 employees.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint; or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities, or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Jacksonville Area Office at 904-232-2895.

OSHA: Monorail Hoists Exempt From Crane and Derricks Rule If Meet Other Safety Regulations

Employers that use monorail hoists can get out of one set of safety obligations if they meet other requirements.

That’s the gist of an announcement by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of  a new enforcement policy that excludes monorail hoists from the requirements of Subpart CC – Cranes and Derricks in Construction, as long as employers meet other OSHA requirements.

The policy change was made in response to comments from stakeholders and in recognition that a monorail hoist–which is attached to a fixed monorail mounted on equipment such as trucks, trailers, or scaffolding systems–is significantly different from other cranes and derricks in construction.

Some monorail hoists can be extended and contracted in only a fixed horizontal direction. They do not rotate, swing on a hinge, or boom out much farther than the equipment on which they are mounted. They are often used in construction to hoist precast concrete components, storage tanks, and mechanical equipment.

Under the new policy, the agency will not cite employers for failing to meet the requirements of Subpart CC if they meet the requirements of the overhead hoists and general training standards.

The general industry requirements for monorail hoists remain intact.

“This enforcement policy is a commonsense approach to addressing industry concerns while also ensuring workers are protected,” said Dean McKenzie, director of OSHA’s Directorate of Construction.

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.

Web Form Coming Aug. 1 For Reporting Workplace Injury and Illness Data to OSHA

Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration extended the deadline for submitting workplace injury and illness data, employers can get a jump start on how that data submission process will work.

OSHA will launch on Aug. 1, 2017, the Injury Tracking Application (ITA), the agency announced. The Web-based form allows employers to electronically submit required injury and illness data from their completed 2016 OSHA Form 300A. The application will be accessible from the ITA webpage.

Last month, OSHA published a notice of proposed rulemaking to extend the deadline for submitting 2016 Form 300A to Dec. 1, 2017, to allow affected entities sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the electronic reporting system, and to provide the new administration an opportunity to review the new electronic reporting requirements prior to their implementation.

The data submission process involves four steps: (1) Creating an establishment; (2) adding 300A summary data; (3) submitting data to OSHA; and (4) reviewing the confirmation email. The secure website offers three options for data submission. One option will enable users to manually enter data into a web form. Another option will give users the ability to upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time. A third option will allow users of automated recordkeeping systems to transmit data electronically via an application programming interface.

The ITA webpage also includes information on reporting requirements, a list of frequently asked questions and a link to request assistance with completing the form.

Fla. Utility Cited in 3 Workers’ Deaths

A confined space in which employees of a South Florida utility company were working turned out to be deadly. They paid for the company’s disregard of safety with their lives. Now federal safety watchdogs are making the company pay some recompense for their negligence.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a South Florida utility company and related contracting company after the agency’s investigation into the deaths of three workers who succumbed to toxic gases in a manhole on Jan. 16, 2017.

Elway Gray, a 34-year-old pipe layer, entered the manhole – a confined space – and quickly became unresponsive. Louis O’Keefe, a 49-year-old laborer, entered the hole and attempted to rescue Gray. After O’Keefe also became unresponsive, Robert Wilson, a 24-year-old equipment operator, followed to help his fallen coworkers. All three men died. Post-incident atmospheric testing in the manhole revealed lethal levels of hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide. Two other employees and a volunteer firefighter were also exposed to the toxic gases in the manhole during rescue attempts but survived.

OSHA investigators cited Douglas N. Higgins, Inc. and its related contracting company, McKenna Contracting, LLC with 10 serious violations totaling $119,507, in penalties. The incident-related serious violations are for failing to purge or ventilate the confined space before entry, exposing the workers to an asphyxiation hazard, and not providing necessary rescue and emergency equipment for employees that were overcome inside a permit-required confined space.

In addition, OSHA issued serious citations to Higgins and McKenna Contracting for failing to:

  • Develop and implement a written hazard communication program for a worksite in which employees were exposed to dangerous chemicals and gases.
  • Use a calibrated direct-reading device to test for toxic gases, creating an asphyxiation hazard.
  • Create and document the confined space entry permit.
  • Provide training to employees in the safe performance of their assigned duties in permit-required confined spaces.
  • Provide a guardrail around the manhole opening, exposing employees to a fall hazard.

“The hazards of working in manholes are well established, but there are ways to make it safe,” said Condell Eastmond, the OSHA area director in Fort Lauderdale. “Three employees needlessly lost their lives and others were injured due to their employer’s failure to follow safe work practices.”

The citations for D.N. Higgins can be viewed at: https://www.dol.gov/sites/default/files/newsroom/newsreleases/OSHA20171001.pdf

Founded in Ann Arbor, Michigan, D.N. Higgins expanded in 1989 with the opening of its Naples office. The company specializes in underground installations of mechanical systems, pump stations, storm water drainage systems and municipal infrastructure. McKenna Contracting, LLC was formed in 2012 and is a related company that provides contract administration and labor to Higgins’ jobsites in Florida.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Fort Lauderdale Area Office at 954-424-0242.

Can’t Take the Heat? Here’s OSHA’s Advice on Staying Safe While Working in Hot Weather

If your job requires you work outdoors, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has advice on staying safe in extreme heat conditions such as much of the United States is experiencing now.

Follow this link for OSHA’s list of heat-related tips:

https://twitter.com/hashtag/HeatSafety?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.osha.gov%2F

The advice includes how to recognize the onset of heat-related illness; keeping water handy at all times to ward off dehydration; and being a buddy and recognizing heat illness in others.

 

OSHA Halts Injury Electronic Reporting Rule

With all the media attention on Trump and Russia and special counsels, what’s going on in the weeds of government gets lost.

Case in point: Yesterday the Labor Department suspended the Obama administration rule requiring that employers electronically report their worker injury and illness records.

The rule took effect on Jan. 1 and covered nearly 441,000 workplaces. Employers were obligated to send in their summary data by July 1 to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. However, OSHA never launched the website for companies to submit the information, and it posted language Wednesday with an existing fact sheet that it “is not accepting electronic submissions of injury and illness logs at this time.”

Many business groups objected to the rule on the grounds that it could unfairly damage the reputation of their members

But the rule’s supporters pointed out that companies in high-hazard industries such as manufacturing and nursing homes already are required to submit their summary data by mail–so making companies submit the information online was no big stretch.

But for now the industry arguments prevailed.

Here’s some background on the final rule.

Railroad Liable for $260,000 in Damages to Whistleblower, Federal Appeals Court Affirms

Recall that the Occupational Safety and Health Agency’s reach isn’t limited to investigating complaints of unsafe workplaces. It is also responsible for enforcing whistleblower provisions of dozens of federal statutes.

OSHA’s finding that a railroad company in Maine retaliated against an employee for reporting an injury in the rail yard has been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

The court affirmed that Pan Am Railways, Inc. must pay $260,000 in punitive and compensatory damages to–and take corrective action on behalf of–an employee who was subjected to retaliation for filing a Federal Railroad Safety Act whistleblower complaint.

OSHA  investigated the complaint, filed in 2011, against the North Billerica-based commercial railroad and found the railroad retaliated against the employee, who works in a rail yard in Waterville, Maine, when it charged him with dishonesty in connection with his FRSA complaint. The employee had tried to report an injury.

The department ordered the railroad to take corrective actions and pay the affected employee $10,000 in compensatory damages and $40,000 in punitive damages. Pan Am Railways appealed, and in 2014, an administrative law judge upheld the agency’s finding of retaliation and increased the amount of punitive damages to $250,000.

The railroad again appealed, to the department’s Administrative Review Board, which affirmed the judge’s order. It then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which denied the railroad’s petition on April 21, 2017.

“This case is a strong reminder that our whistleblower laws prohibit reprisals against employees who file whistleblower complaints, report workplace injuries and illnesses, or raise awareness of hazardous safety or security conditions,” said Galen Blanton, OSHA’s New England regional administrator

“A safe and healthy workplace is a goal we should all aspire to achieve. Discriminatory actions by employers, including but not limited to retaliation, can freeze employees into silence. Hazardous conditions can go unreported as a result, and lead to avoidable human and financial costs,” said Michael Felsen, the department’s regional solicitor of labor for New England.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the FRSA and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, worker safety, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws.