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August 22, 2023
OSHA reveals a pair of six-figure fines

Employers in Arkansas and Pennsylvania are facing six-figure Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines, the agency announced August 16.

OSHA cited Anthony Timberlands Inc., proposing $218,759 in penalties after an employee at the company’s timberland and sawmill facility in Bearden, Arkansas, suffered fatal injuries from an automated lumber stacking machine.

Avila’s Roofing LLC of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, was cited for two willful and two serious safety violations and an other-than-serious violation, with proposed penalties totaling $328,143. OSHA inspectors observed employees of Avila’s Roofing working without fall protection at heights of up to 27 feet on the roof of a commercial building in Honesdale.

Inspectors also learned the company hadn’t provided employees with effective training on fall hazards and allowed them to work without eye and face protection when potential risks of eye or face injury existed.

In five inspections of Avila’s Roofing worksites in Honesdale and Scranton, OSHA cited the employer for repeated failures to comply with federal fall protection requirements, proposing $178,649 in penalties.

“OSHA will not tolerate this company’s continued failure to protect its employees against potentially deadly and disabling hazards,” Mary Reynolds, OSHA’s Wilkes-Barre area director, said in an agency statement. “Falls are the leading cause of death in construction work, and employers are legally required to plan ahead, provide workers with effective tools and training, and conduct frequent inspections to make sure jobs are done safely.”

OSHA’s construction industry fall protection standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1926.501) remains the agency’s most frequently cited standard, cited 5,260 times in fiscal year (FY) 2022. The agency’s fall protection training standard (§1926.503) is its eighth most frequently cited standard, cited 1,556 times last year.

Sawmill fatality

During OSHA’s inspection of the Anthony Timberlands facility following a worker’s fatal injuries, the agency learned the worker was cleaning around and beneath the lumber stacking machine in February 2023 when its hoist table fell on the worker. Inspectors learned the company had the lumber stacking system installed in July 2022 without any barrier devices to prevent employees from entering the area beneath the stacker hoist.

The agency cited the employer for four serious violations, including:

  • Failing to provide lockout/tagout procedures to prevent a machine from starting and moving during maintenance,
  • Not ensuring guards were in place beneath the stacking system,
  • Failing to provide barriers to stop employees from entering the danger zone, and
  • Not having signage in place to warn employees about crushing hazards.

OSHA’s general industry control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout) standard (§1910.147) is the agency’s sixth most frequently cited standard, cited 1,977 times in FY 2022.

The agency previously cited Anthony Timberlands following an amputation injury at the same facility and a fatal injury at another location. OSHA cited the employer in January 2020, when an employee in the Bearden facility suffered a thumb amputation when the worker’s finger made contact with an unguarded chipper feeder. In August 2022, OSHA cited the company after an employee at its Malvern facility suffered fatal injuries when an unguarded sharp chain activated.

“This is not the first time an employee of Anthony Timberlands Inc. has died due to the company’s failure to follow established safety requirements for working near automated machinery,” Kia McCullough, OSHA’s Little Rock, Arkansas, area director, said in an agency statement. “This company’s continued disregard for the safety and well-being of its employees is inexcusable and must stop. Ensuring workers’ safety is not optional, it’s the law.”

Anthony Timberlands Inc., based in Beirne, has approximately 800 employees at seven Arkansas locations, according to OSHA.

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