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July 15, 2021
OSHA enforcement roundup: Spotlight on recent cases
By Amanda Lavelle, Editor - EHS

Fall hazard violations lead to citations
OSHA collectively cited six contractors building luxury single-family homes in New Jersey with four willful and 35 serious violations for putting workers at risk of serious or fatal injuries by failing to comply with federal requirements to prevent falls. The violations included exposing workers to falls greater than 6 feet and not providing personal protective equipment (PPE). OSHA initiated three of the inspections as part of its Regional Emphasis Program on Falls in Construction. During the first inspection on October 20, 2020, the compliance officer observed workers exposed to falls and other hazards. Inspectors observed the same hazards during a second inspection two days later, prompting the third inspection on October 31.
Penalty: $244,397 

Auto body manufacturer fails to correct hazards
An auto body manufacturing company was cited with two willful and 10 serious violations for failing to correct fall and noise hazards repeatedly reported by employees at its Maine facility. During a 2020 inspection in response to a complaint, OSHA found plant employees working atop truck bodies without fall protection and others exposed to excess noise levels while steam cleaning. OSHA also issued citations for serious violations stemming from the plant's failure to guard employees against struck-by and crushing hazards from homemade attachments used on auto lifts and provide adequate training to employees, failure to guard machinery to prevent employees from coming in contact with machine operating parts, and failure to conduct a hazard assessment to determine and select appropriate PPE  for employees.
Penalty: $393,992

Lack of fall protection leads to citations
OSHA cited a water technology company in Wisconsin for fall hazard violations, including one willful and eight serious safety violations. OSHA inspected the company’s facility after an employee suffered an injury when a guardrail loosened, causing him to fall and strike his head on a support beam as he lowered himself into a nearly 30-foot-deep water test pit. Inspectors determined that the company exposed employees to walking-working surfaces hazards, failed to provide employees with fall protection before they entered a 100’ x 24’ water test pit, and failed to follow specific permit-required confined spaces safety procedures prior to entering the water test pits.
Penalty: $234,000

Company fined for inadequate machine guarding
A bath and shower manufacturer was cited with 19 willful and repeated violations for failing to use required machine guards and fall protection at its Texas facility following a 2020 inspection. The company was previously cited in 2018 for safeguarding equipment and fall protection violations. “OSHA will cite employers who disregard their legal responsibility to provide workers with a safe workplace,” said OSHA Area Director Timothy Minor in Fort Worth.
Penalty: $558,821

Variety store cited for repeat violations
Following a 2020 inspection, a chain discount variety store in Florida was cited for exposing employees to fire, entrapment and struck-by hazards, blocked exit routes, and improperly stacked boxes and other materials that might fall and injure workers. Since 2016, OSHA has inspected company locations more than 300 times. Since 2018, inspections at stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee have resulted in proposed penalties of more than $1.3 million. Nationwide, inspections in the past 5 years have resulted in proposed penalties of more than $9.3 million. “Until appropriate precautions are taken to protect their employees from these well-known and frequent hazards, OSHA will continue to hold them accountable,” said OSHA Area Director Danelle Jindra in Tampa, Florida.
Penalty: $265,265

Grain-handling hazards lead to six-figure fines
OSHA cited an agricultural processing company in Wisconsin with four willful and 10 serious safety citations involving requirements for safe entry into grain storage structures. An investigation of a 2020 fatality where a manager of the company was found engulfed in a silo determined that the manager entered the unsafe grain bin despite recently having an external process underway to remove corn from the clogged silo. OSHA also determined that the external process should have continued for several more days before allowing anyone to enter the grain bin. “Six of every 10 workers trapped in a grain bin don’t make it out alive. This is a frightening and tragic reality. Safety standards are in place to protect workers from serious and fatal injuries,” said Acting OSHA Regional Administrator William Donovan in Chicago. The company was previously cited in 2017 following an investigation of an explosion that killed five workers and injured 15 others.
Penalty: $676,000

Construction company cited for fall hazards
Following an inspection at a New York City worksite where a laborer fatally fell 50 feet as he installed a supported tubular welded frame scaffold during construction of a 7-story building, OSHA cited the construction company with two willful and two serious safety violations. OSHA found the company failed to evaluate the feasibility of using fall protection, failed to use feasible fall protection during the erection of a supported scaffold, did not properly train employees on fall hazards associated with scaffold work, failed to inspect fall arrest systems before use, and did not determine if the anchorage for employees' personal fall arrest systems could support at least 5,000 pounds.
Penalty: $300,370

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