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March 26, 2024
New York contractor stops contesting fall violations

A New York roofing contractor stopped contesting egregious willful and other citations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced March 21. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission affirmed OSHA’s citations of ALJ Home Improvement, including three per-instance egregious willful fall protection violations, a willful unsafe ladder violation, and four serious violations, as well as the agency’s $687,536 penalty.

During an August 2022 OSHA inspection at a residential construction site in Ho Ho Kus, New Jersey, an agency compliance officer observed multiple ALJ Home Improvement employees working on a steep-slope roof without fall protection. OSHA found violations related to fall protection deficiencies, unsafe ladder use, additional ladder-related hazards, and a lack of head protection at the Bergen County worksite.

Less than 6 months earlier, an ALJ employee suffered a fatal workplace fall in Spring Valley, New York. The incident led company founder and principal Jose Lema to plead guilty in February 2024 to willfully violating OSHA regulations. Sentencing is scheduled to take place in May.

Since 2019, OSHA has inspected the company 10 times and cited multiple fall-related violations, including after company employees suffered fatal falls in 2019 and 2022.

“By affirming our investigative findings and upholding ALJ Home Improvement’s penalties, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has sent a clear message to employers whose egregious actions show continuous disregard for worker safety,” Lisa Levy, OSHA’s Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, area office director, said in an agency statement.

Last fall, OSHA announced its construction industry fall protection standard was its most frequently cited standard for the 13th straight year.

Sausage plant cited in follow-up inspection

Dean Sausage Co. Inc., an Attalla, Alabama, sausage manufacturer that was cited in a follow-up, now faces $116,153 in new OSHA penalties, the agency announced March 20. OSHA found workplace safety hazards similar to ones identified in a December 8, 2022, inspection that included violations of the lockout/tagout, machine guarding, hazard communication, and exit route standards.

OSHA cited Dean Sausage with seven repeat violations for exposing employees to struck-by and caught-in hazards by failing to develop and use machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures and by not maintaining machine guarding. The employer also failed to maintain clear exits and implement a written hazard communication program, including worker training, for those working with hazardous chemicals. Investigators found that Dean Sausage also didn’t maintain required safety data sheets for the materials. It cited the company with two serious violations for lacking lockout/tagout procedures to protect employees before they cleared a machine’s bread cutter.

In an initial 2022 inspection, OSHA cited Dean Sausage Co. for a total of 14 violations and assessed the company with more than $37,000 in proposed penalties.

“The fact that Dean Sausage Co. has allowed employees to be exposed to hazards for which we cited them in the past raises real concerns,” Joel Batiz, OSHA’s Birmingham, Alabama, area office director, said in a statement. “Their latest failure is unacceptable and OSHA will hold the company accountable.”

Last fall, OSHA announced its lockout/tagout, hazard communication, and machine guarding standards were among its top 10 most cited regulations.

Alabama manufacturer faces $96K OSHA fine in worker fatality

Cullman Casting Corp., a Cullman, Alabama, manufacturing plant, faces $95,981 in OSHA fines after a worker suffered fatal injuries from getting caught inside a molding machine—a fatality the employer could have prevented by following established safety rules, the agency announced March 21.

On August 31, 2023, a second-shift production supervisor attempted to adjust a plastic film on a mold machine that produces forklift counterweights when the machine cycled, pinning the worker between the moving components inside.

Investigators determined the company repeatedly failed to de-energize and lock out the automated molding machine while workers were performing maintenance and cleaning. OSHA also found the company exposed workers to caught-in hazards by failing to do the following:  

  • Develop and use written lockout/tagout procedures. 
  • Conduct periodic inspections of lockout/tagout procedures.
  • Ensure employees are trained on lockout/tagout procedures.
  • Ensure employees are placing locks when conducting lockout/tagout procedures.
  • Ensure machine guarding was in place for employees working in the pit.

“Manufacturing companies use complex, high-powered, industrial-sized equipment and every precaution must be taken, and every safety procedure followed,” Batiz said.

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