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April 10, 2024
OSHA enforcement roundup: Spotlight on recent cases

‘Severe violator’ cited again for machine hazards
An Alabama sawmill was again found endangering employees in August 2023 after an employee got caught in a woodchipper after climbing on top of an auger to unclog the machine and was fatally injured. OSHA cited the company with 22 willful violations, 1 repeat violation, and 5 serious violations. Specifically, the agency found the employer failed to:

  • Ensure employees used energy control procedures to prevent the unexpected start-up of machines while performing maintenance and servicing activities like clearing jams.
  • Ensure the use of lockout/tagout devices on machinery when performing maintenance.
  • Provide training to employees on the purpose and function of the energy control program, as well as ensure they have the knowledge and skills required for the safe application of energy control measures.
  • Maintain guarding on machines that posed amputation hazards to employees.
  • Require fall protection to be used in work areas above 4 feet.
  • Require employees operating a forklift to wear a seatbelt.
  • Maintain fire extinguishers in a fully charged and operable condition.
  • Ensure an electrical disconnect was located in direct line of sight from the equipment being locked out.

Before these citations, the sawmill had been inspected 4 times in the past 5 years, including a fatality inspection in 2020 that caused OSHA to cite the company with 4 willful and 10 serious violations and resulting in the company’s addition to the agency's Severe Violators Enforcement Program (SVEP).
Penalty: $2,471,683

Contractor fined $1 million
OSHA cited a New Jersey contractor for again exposing workers to fall hazards. OSHA initiated an inspection of the company under a local emphasis program for falls in construction. The agency issued six willful violations for a lack of fall protection and failure to ensure the use of eye protection and four serious violations for unsafe scaffolds and failure to provide hard hats for overhead hazards. The company has been inspected five times since 2016, and in each instance, OSHA cited the company for failure to provide workers with fall protection. The company has been added to the SVEP due to the egregious nature of the fall violations.
Penalty: $1,017,248

Repeat hazards lead to six-figure fine
A New Jersey frozen food manufacturer with an extensive history of violating federal safety and health standards was cited again by OSHA after a worker suffered an amputation in August 2023. OSHA determined the company exposed workers to lockout/tagout hazards—where energy may be inadvertently released—and cited it for four willful, one repeat, and three serious violations. Including this inspection, OSHA has inspected the company 6 times in the past 5 years and placed the company in the SVEP after an inspection produced a significant case in 2021.
Penalty: $551,719

Transportation company cited for safety hazards
OSHA cited a transportation company in New Jersey after an investigation found workplace safety and health hazards at the facility. The agency cited the company for one willful violation because it didn’t properly maintain safety data sheets for chemicals, including corrosives. Three repeat violations involved chemical container labels that weren’t updated, and therefore, workers weren’t made aware of the names of new chemicals; eyewash stations that weren’t properly maintained; and worker medical evaluations that weren’t conducted before respirator use. OSHA previously cited the company in 2019 and 2023 for similar violations. Four serious citations were also issued because the company failed to inspect hoists, establish a written hazard communication program, and ensure safety requirements were met during use of a lifeline fall protection system.
Penalty: $437,860

Complaint investigation leads to citations
A food manufacturer in New Jersey was cited with one willful, two repeat, and four serious violations following a complaint investigation. OSHA determined the company violated federal safety laws by failing to:

  • Develop and follow a lockout/tagout program and written procedures for maintenance and sanitation staff who worked on and cleaned production equipment in the canning and filling department.
  • Keep the work floor in a clean and dry condition after food waste and water leaked onto the floor.
  • Provide proper guarding on a conveyor system.
  • Train workers on lockout/tagout procedures.
  • Conduct annual lockout/tagout audits on machines.
  • Provide baseline and annual audiograms.

Penalty: $463,224

Machine and fall hazards lead to fines
An Ohio chicken processing plant with a long history of violations continues to expose workers to multiple hazards while they process chickens for commercial sale. After a follow-up inspection, OSHA cited the company for three repeat, seven serious, and four other-than-serious violations. Specifically, the company failed to use required lockout/tagout procedures, train workers in lockout/tagout procedures, provide adequate machine guarding to protect workers from contact with operating machine parts, and protect workers against fall and electrical hazards. Since 1988, OSHA has cited the company 70 times at its facilities in North Carolina and Ohio, resulting in about 450 violations. Most of those violations related to machine guarding, lockout/tagout procedures, fall and electrical hazards, and processing safety management.
Penalty: $393,449

Steel fabrication company fined for safety hazards
OSHA cited a steel fabrication business in New Jersey after finding the company willfully exposed workers to safety and health hazards at its facility. Following an investigation in response to a complaint, OSHA issued four willful and seven serious violations. The violations involved the company’s failure to:

  • Medically evaluate new employees who were required to wear respirators.
  • Conduct annual inspections of overhead cranes.
  • Ensure proper use of welding screens.
  • Train new hires on chemical safety.
  • Ensure grounding and bonding of a spray finishing process.
  • Label containers and maintain safety data sheets for chemicals.
  • Install the correct circuit breakers to operate lights.
Penalty: $348,683
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