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September 05, 2023
Failure to correct hazards yields $298K OSHA fine

A Stafford, Texas, engine components manufacturer faces $298,250 in proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties for 2 repeat and 14 new serious violations, the agency announced August 31.

OSHA cited Air Starter Components Inc. with two repeat violations for failing to adjust bench grinders properly and not posting 2022 injury and illness logs, as required. Agency inspectors also identified serious violations for hazards related to:

  • A spray booth;
  • Unguarded projected shaft ends, belts, and pulleys on a horizontal lathe;
  • Air compressors operating at more than 30 pounds per square inch;
  • Electrical equipment used beyond its safe limits and without proper grounding;
  • Exposed electrical wires; and
  • Using extension cords in place of permanent wiring, as required. 

The agency proposed penalties totaling $127,187 for violations identified in its follow-up inspection.

OSHA issued citations for Air Starter Components’ failure to abate hazards identified in the earlier inspection and for not including a 2022 recordable injury on its OSHA 300 log. The employer had entered into an agreement with OSHA to address its violations, but no abatement documentation was provided. The agency proposed penalties totaling $171,063 for the repeat violations.

“Rather than correcting the hazards we identified in 2022, Air Starter Components was still operating equipment without required safety guards, and doing so resulted in another worker suffering a debilitating injury,” Mark Briggs, OSHA’s Houston area director, said in an agency statement.

Colorado contractor awaiting sentencing in trench collapse

A Colorado construction contractor is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the 2021 trench collapse death of an employee, OSHA announced August 30. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) made a criminal referral after Peter Dillon, owner of the now-defunct company A4S LLC, refused to require the use of proper safety equipment to protect his workers.

A4S received citations for three willful OSHA violations in May 2022 for not ensuring the excavation was inspected by a competent person, failing to instruct employees on recognizing and avoiding unsafe conditions, and not having a trench protective system in place. OSHA also issued a serious citation for not having a safe means of exit within 25 lateral feet of employees working in a trench.

OSHA proposed penalties totaling $449,583 and placed A4S in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). A4S has since been shuttered, and Dillon agreed to forfeit any future ownership, leadership, or management position involving trenching, excavation, or oversight of workplace safety and health.  

 “We deeply appreciate the work of the Summit County District Attorney’s office in holding Peter Dillon accountable and will continue to work closely with OSHA and local, state, and federal prosecutors to bring employers who fail to protect employees as the law demands to justice,” John Rainwater, the DOL’s Denver regional solicitor, said in an agency statement.

OSHA has an ongoing National Emphasis Program (NEP) to address trenching and excavation hazards and announced plans last year for 1,000 excavation inspections following a spike in early 2022 in trenching and excavation fatalities.

Texas contractor cited in crane collapse, worker’s death

A Farmersville, Texas, construction contractor faces $262,977 in OSHA penalties following an employee’s death in a crane collapse, the agency announced August 24.

Employees of S&D Erectors Inc. were constructing a metal building when the crane collapsed in March 2023.

OSHA cited the employer for four willful violations related to:

  • Not using temporary alternative measures when the crane’s load and radius cell didn’t work,
  • Operating a mobile crane in excess of its rated capacity, and
  • Requiring the crane operator to operate the crane in a manner that exceeded its rated capacity.

The agency also cited S&D Erectors with serious violations for failure to create and employ an accident prevention program; perform frequent and regular worksite inspections; and meet federal safety standards for crane inspections, wire rope inspections, and other hazards.

“S&D Erectors disregarded the safety of their employees, and one worker suffered the deadly consequences of the company’s failures,” Timothy Minor, OSHA’s Fort Worth area director, said in an agency statement.

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