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January 21, 2022
OSHA hits Conn. manufacturer with $236K in fines

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited PM Engineered Solutions Inc. of Watertown, Connecticut, with 40 serious and 8 other-than-serious violations and is seeking $236,201 in proposed penalties. The agency inspected the metal fabrication company after an employee was electrocuted on July 14, 2021, while repairing a portable water heater.

PM Engineered Solutions lacked safeguards to protect employees against electrocution, according to OSHA, as well as mechanical, chemical, fall, and other electrical hazards. Agency inspectors determined that the company failed to develop procedures to lock out the water heater’s power source during maintenance or provide lockout training to the deceased employee. They also found the company failed to periodically check energy control (lockout/tagout) procedures.

“This employee lost his life due to the employer’s failure to implement required energy control procedures,” Dale Varney, OSHA’s Hartford, Connecticut, area director, said in an agency statement.

“Of equal concern is the broad cross-section of hazards throughout the facility. Left uncorrected, they expose employees to being crushed, caught in moving machine parts, burned, chemical exposures, falling and being unable to exit the workplace promptly in the event of an emergency, such as a fire or explosion.”

Safety and health violations identified by the agency during its inspection of the plant included:

  • 62 instances of inadequately guarded machinery, including mechanical power presses, forges, hydraulic presses, and grinding machinery;
  • Failure to periodically evaluate forklift truck operators’ performance; 
  • Improperly located or designed collection systems for combustible dust;
  • Inadequate, improperly altered, and uninspected powered forklift trucks;
  • Improperly stored or unsecured compressed gas cylinders;
  • Lack of a permit-required confined space program for employees who regularly enter a machine pit;
  • Lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees;
  • Missing or inadequate exit signage;
  • Numerous electrical safety violations, including exposed live electrical parts, uncovered electrical boxes, flexible cords used in lieu of permanent wiring, and material stored in front of electrical panels;
  • Open or unlabeled tanks and containers of hazardous chemicals; and
  • Uninspected damaged and unmarked chain slings.

On August 30, 2021, the agency also cited PM Engineered Solutions for failing to electronically file its annual OSHA 300A Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses for the previous year.

OSHA’s lockout/tagout, powered industrial trucks, and machine guarding standards are among the agency’s top 10 most frequently cited standards. The lockout/tagout standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.147) was cited 1,698 times in fiscal year (FY) 2021; the powered industrial trucks standard (§1910.178) was cited 1,420 times; and the machine guarding standard (§1910.212) was cited 1,113 times.

Bronx hospital cited for workplace violence

OSHA also announced it had cited the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx for a lack of adequate safeguards for employees in the pediatric emergency department of the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore.

The agency reported finding that employees, including assistants, nurses, security personnel, and technicians, were exposed to workplace violence. It cited Montefiore for 1 serious violation under the General Duty Clause, with a proposed penalty of $13,653.

The agency cites instances of workplace violence under the General Duty Clause (§5(a)(1)) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 because the agency has never issued a federal workplace violence prevention standard.

However, OSHA does have a rulemaking for a standard concerning workplace violence in health care and social services, which remains in the prerule stage.

The agency also cited the facility for 2 other-than-serious violations, with $3,902 in proposed penalties, for incomplete, inaccurate, and untimely injury and illness incident reports.

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