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October 12, 2021
OSHA enforcement roundup: Spotlight on recent cases
By Amanda Lavelle, Editor - EHS

Grain-handling violations lead to citations
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited a central Illinois grain-handling cooperative with three willful, one serious, and one other-than-serious safety citation for exposing workers to serious engulfment hazards when soybeans collapsed inside a Monticello, Illinois, grain bin and engulfed an employee up to the employee’s waist. The cooperative violated grain-handling standards by allowing workers to enter the bin without first locking out or de-energizing hazardous equipment, failing to post an attendant outside the bin to respond in case of emergency, and allowing employees to enter a grain bin when there was 10–15 feet (ft) of grain buildup on the sides of the bin. OSHA also issued a serious citation for directing employees to work on top of railcars without fall protection and an other-than-serious citation for failing to test oxygen levels in a grain bin before directing employees to work inside the bin.
Penalty: $303,510

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Masonry company fails to correct hazards
A masonry company was cited for nine repeat and six serious violations for once again exposing workers to falls and silica hazards at its Denton, Texas, worksite. The violations included failure to ensure that scaffolding was properly planked and secured, provide a ladder for safe egress, and inspect scaffolding. OSHA cited the company for similar violations in 2018 and 2019. "Employers should never put profits before the safety of their workers. OSHA will do everything in its power to protect workers and hold serial violators like this accountable," said OSHA Area Director Timothy Minor in Fort Worth, Texas.
Penalty: $216,265

Inadequate machine guarding leads to six-figure fines
A milk packaging plant in Denver, Colorado, was cited with two willful and five serious violations and one other-than-serious violation after an employee lost four fingers while operating a molding machine that lacked required safeguards. OSHA cited the company for failing to implement procedures for the control of hazardous energy, including failing to develop and implement lockout/tagout procedures to prevent machines from operating unintentionally; inadequate machine guarding; inadequate numbers of locks to perform lockout/tagout and inadequate lockout/tagout training; and oil leaks on the floor exposing workers to slip and trip hazards.
Penalty: $339,379

Food processing facility cited for respiratory hazards
After an investigation following 2 chemical releases, OSHA cited a poultry processing facility with 23 safety and health violations at the company’s Gainesville, Georgia, facility. The company was cited for exposing workers to dermal and respiratory hazards associated with the potential unexpected release of anhydrous ammonia and for failing to install a system that protected employees. Additionally, OSHA cited the company for failing to guard horizontal shafts on conveyors, which exposed workers to caught-in hazards; provide adequate training and ensure workers used locks to isolate hazardous energy while servicing conveyors; label electrical breakers, cover unused openings in electrical boxes, and use electrical devices as designed; provide fall protection while working from equipment at heights over 4 ft; require employees to use eye protection while working with compressed air; provide adequate hearing protection, testing, and training; and maintain drainage in areas of wet processes.
Penalty: $154,674

COVID-19 violations lead to citations
OSHA cited a central New Jersey medical facility and temporary staffing agency for failing to ensure the safety and health of nurses giving flu shots and testing potentially infectious patients for COVID-19 in early 2021. The medical facility was cited for two willful violations when it failed to provide medical evaluations to determine each employee's ability to use a respirator before it required workers to use them and failed to fit test employees required to wear respirators. OSHA cited the staffing agency for two serious citations when it failed to ensure medical evaluations were done and failed to provide fit tests for workers required to use respirators. 
Penalty: $273,064 (medical facility); $13,653 (staffing agency)

Roofing contractor violates OSHA agreement
A Bergen County, New Jersey, roofing contractor—which agreed to make safety improvements after federal safety inspections in 2019 identified 9 fall protection and other safety violations—has violated its settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In 2020, the company agreed to establish a comprehensive written safety and health program, provide training to managers and workers, and create daily safety checklists to identify and remove any hazards. OSHA’s follow-up inspection in 2021 determined that the company failed to comply with the agreement and continued to expose workers to dangerous safety hazards. OSHA cited the company with one failure-to-abate violation for not complying with the settlement agreement terms and not submitting documentation required to show compliance.
Penalty: $600,741

Electrical shock hazards lead to citations
OSHA cited a sign contractor following the electrocution of an employee who made contact with live wires when the employee climbed down into a trench to splice electrical wires to power streetlights at an Orlando, Florida, worksite. The company was cited with two willful violations for exposing workers to electrical-shock hazards by failing to de-energize or guard circuits and exposing workers to cave-in hazards by neglecting to ensure the use of protective measures to safeguard employees. OSHA also cited the company with two serious violations for not ensuring workers had a safe means to exit excavations and allowing employees to work in a trench with accumulated water.
Penalty: $237,566

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