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April 11, 2022
OSHA enforcement roundup: Spotlight on recent cases

Repeat fall hazards lead to $2 million fine
OSHA cited a framing contractor in New Jersey with 8 willful, 10 repeat, and 12 serious violations discovered over the course of 5 inspections beginning December 2019 and ending February 2020. The hazards included failure to use fall, head, and eye protection; unsafe use of stepladders; scaffolding, housekeeping, and fire safety deficiencies; a lack of stair rails; and a lack of forklift training. “[The employer] deliberately failed to pay the fines and displayed a total disregard for the safety of [the] workers and for the law. This ruling sends a clear message that business owners who abuse the system to avoid responsibility will be held legally accountable when they fail to uphold their obligation to provide a safe workplace and think they can ignore federal fines,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker.
Penalty: $2,004,225 fine

Employee suffers serious hand injury
An auto store in New Jersey was cited with 33 workplace safety and health violations, including willful, repeat, and serious citations, identified during a September 2021 OSHA inspection following an employee’s serious and life-altering injury from an accidental machine start-up. The inspection found that the store willfully failed to develop and use lockout/tagout and machine guarding procedures to prevent employees from being hit by the moving conveyor line; willfully did not prevent fires; willfully failed to keep an emergency egress clear; did not protect employees from being caught in automobile lifts; failed to equip employees with personal protective equipment (PPE) or provide fire extinguisher training; and exposed workers to electrical, noise, machine guarding, crushing, and flammable material hazards.
Penalty: $1,260,275 fine

Contractor cited following employee’s fatal fall
Following an employee’s fatal fall from an unprotected skylight in August 2021, OSHA cited a roofing contractor with nine willful violations, including eight egregious per-instance citations, for the company’s failure to provide fall protection for each of the eight employees who worked on the roof of a municipal building. The agency also cited the company for four serious violations for other fall hazards and for violations related to the crane in use on-site. In addition to the unprotected skylight, the employer exposed workers to falls of up to 22 feet from other unguarded roof openings and roof edges and failed to provide employees with any personal fall protection equipment (PPE).
Penalty: $1,201,031 fine

Discount retailer fined over $1 million
In August 2021, following inspections at three Alabama stores, a nationwide discount store was cited with five willful violations for failing to keep receiving areas clean and orderly, as well as stacking materials in an unsafe manner—hazards that expose workers to slips, trips, and being struck by objects—following an August 2021 inspection. The employer also exposed workers to fire hazards by failing to keep exit routes and workspaces around electrical panels clear. That same month, another store in Georgia was cited for two willful violations and one repeat violation similar to those found at the Alabama location.
Penalty: $1,048,309 fine

Company cited for cave-in hazards
OSHA cited a utility company and its successor company in Massachusetts for four willful and three serious violations and one other-than-serious violation following a February 2021 double fatality at a worksite for again failing to provide employees with essential and required safeguards. Specifically, OSHA determined that the companies did not ensure cave-in protection for each employee working in an excavation; provide adequate protection to prevent loose rock or soil from falling into the excavation; instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions; conduct frequent and regular inspections of the jobsite to identify and correct hazards; ensure stability of adjoining buildings, walls, or other structures endangered by excavation operations; ensure that a competent person identified all confined spaces employees were to enter; and provide adequate helmets to protect employees against impact and penetration by falling and flying objects.
Penalty: $624,000 fine

Contractor fails to correct hazards
A construction contractor in Ohio was cited for failure to provide fall protection equipment to workers and train them on its use. In December 2021, OSHA inspectors observed roofers employed by the company working on a residential home. The agency issued three willful, two repeat, and two serious violations. OSHA cited the company for not providing fall protection and training, failing to ensure workers used hard hats and safety glasses, and not providing a ladder extended at least 3 feet (ft) above the landing surface. At the time of the December inspection, OSHA was already investigating the company after observing employees working at heights greater than 10 ft on a commercial building in October 2021. OSHA cited the employer for a lack of fall protection and training and for not providing a ladder or others means to exit elevated surfaces safely.
Penalty: $237,013 fine

Lack of machine guarding leads to fines
OSHA cited a lumber company in Texas following an investigation into fatal injuries suffered by a worker who fell from a stack of pallets in July 2021. OSHA cited the company for willful violations for failing to use energy control procedures and implement a hearing conservation program. The agency also issued citations for serious violations for a lack of machine guarding, failing to use PPE, not addressing the hazards from operating powered industrial trucks, and neglecting to notify OSHA within 8 hours of a work-related fatality, as required. “Sawmill operations can be hazardous work, but it should not be life-threatening,” said OSHA Area Director Basil Singh in Dallas. “[The company] showed a complete disregard for their employees’ well-being. OSHA will hold employers accountable when they neglect their legal responsibility to provide workers with a safe workplace.”
Penalty: $389,706 fine

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