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October 10, 2023
OSHA enforcement roundup: Spotlight on recent cases

National discount retailer fined $1.35 million
OSHA entered a corporatewide settlement agreement with the operators of one of the nation’s largest discount retail chains to significantly improve workplace safety. The settlement agreement requires the company to conduct a comprehensive, nationwide assessment of the root causes of the violations OSHA has repeatedly cited at multiple stores, with a plan to identify causes and make operational changes to correct them within a 2-year period. To ensure prompt abatement of any future violations related to blocked exits, access to fire extinguishers and electrical panels, and improper material storage at stores nationwide, the company must correct hazards—within 48 hours of OSHA notifying them—and later submit proof the hazards were corrected. Failure to do so subjects the company to monetary assessments of $100,000 per day of violation, up to $500,000, as well as OSHA inspection and enforcement actions.
Penalty: $1.35 million

Repeat fall hazards lead to seven-figure fine
OSHA cited a building construction company in American Samoa for 21 violations, including 9 serious, 6 willful, and 6 repeat serious violations. Specifically, OSHA determined the company failed to use guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems; equip stairways with one stair rail system along each unprotected side or edge; ensure workers used appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially hazardous light radiation; and install equipment safely as instructed by the manufacturer.
Penalty: $1,088,681

Contractor cited for deadly fall hazards
Following its March, April, and June 2023 investigations at various locations, OSHA cited an Ohio roofing contractor for eight willful and two repeat violations. At all worksites, inspectors observed roofing workers at heights greater than 6 feet without fall protection—despite having fall protection equipment on-site—and lacking eye protection while using pneumatic nail guns. The company also allowed workers to work without properly extended ladders.
Penalty: $548,801

Employee suffers finger amputation
A vinyl tile manufacturer with a history of failing to protect workers from hazards at its Ohio plant has been cited by OSHA for three willful violations, two repeat violations, three serious violations, and two other-than-serious violations. OSHA opened an inspection after the report of a machine operator’s finger amputation in February 2023 resulting from the employee’s gloved finger becoming caught in a chain and sprocket system that didn’t have required safety guards in place. After the inspection, OSHA determined that the company exposed workers to machine hazards by failing to employ adequate lockout and tagout procedures and failing to train workers properly and guard machinery.
Penalty: $545,853 

Company cited for unsafe work conditions
OSHA cited a Pennsylvania manufacturer of steel containers for 2 willful, 3 repeat, 23 serious, and 2 other-than-serious violations for exposing its employees to a wide range of safety and health hazards. Following a March 2023 inspection, OSHA found that the company failed to provide welders with personal protective equipment (PPE) at no cost to employees; establish and implement a respiratory protection program and medical evaluations and training related to employees’ use of respirators; provide a hearing conservation program and hearing conservation training; store flammable materials properly; complete assessments for PPE; establish an energy control program; ensure proper machine guarding on metal working machinery; use a rated powered industrial truck in a flammable atmosphere; and maintain welding leads and not expose live electrical parts.
Penalty: $484,401

Chemical plant fined for toxic substances exposure
Following a January 2023 inspection, a Missouri chemical plant was cited for four repeat and nine serious safety and health violations, including those that put employees at risk of exposure to toxic substances such as ethylene oxide. Specifically, OSHA investigators found that the company had inadequate process safety management (PSM) procedures and monitoring; failed to develop an emergency evacuation plan; failed to train workers on actions to take in the event of a chemical release; exposed respirators to ethylene oxide while in storage; and allowed electrical safety hazards. In October 2021, OSHA cited the same facility for 24 serious safety and health violations.
Penalty: $393,798

Fatal fall leads to fines
An Oklahoma construction contractor entered into a deferred prosecution agreement to avoid federal prosecution on one count of ignoring federal safety regulations that resulted in a worker fatality in 2019. The action follows an investigation by OSHA that found the company did not require employees to use fall protection while working on the roof of the 56-foot soybean storage tank or provide fall protection training. In October 2019, an employee on the roof died after falling more than 50 feet to the ground. OSHA's inspection also revealed that the company provided inaccurate safety information to its employees by telling them that wearing fall protection presented a greater hazard than not wearing it.
Penalty: $370,680

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