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October 09, 2015
The pitfalls of noncompliance

Following safety regulations isn’t just the right thing to do—it keeps employers on the right side of OSHA enforcement and saves money by avoiding fines, legal fees, and more. Keep reading to learn about six companies that ran afoul of OSHA regulations and paid the price.

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Workers exposed to amputation hazards
Logging company
West Virginia     OSHA Region 3
Willful and serious violations: An inspection of a logging worksite led to two willful, eight serious, and one other-than-serious safety violations for the company. OSHA determined that employees were operating chainsaws without cut-resistant boots or socks and were drop-starting the chainsaws while felling trees, exposing them to severe lacerations and amputation hazards. Inspectors also found that employees were not working within visual or audible contact of each other, and the employer failed to provide first-aid kits at the worksite. “Logging has been recognized as one of the most hazardous industries, and has been the source of seven fatalities in West Virginia since January 1, 2013,” said Prentice Cline, OSHA’s area director in Charleston. “A serious incident can happen in an instant. That’s why it’s vital that employers take all of the necessary steps to protect their workers.”
Penalty: $46,825 fine

Amputation leads to citations
Food manufacturer
Ohio      OSHA Region 5
Repeat and serious violations: After a 55-year-old worker lost part of his right middle finger while unjamming a dough-cutting machine, OSHA inspected the facility where the incident occurred and cited the employer with one repeat and two serious safety violations. Inspectors found the dough-cutting machine lacked adequate guarding to protect employees from moving parts; the company was cited for a similar violation at the same facility in 2010. The serious violations were issued for failing to turn off the machine during maintenance and not training employees on safety procedures to prevent exposure to operating parts. The facility produces cookies and crackers for several large national brands.
Penalty: $52,500 fine

Workers exposed to dust, silica
Drywall manufacturer
Wisconsin            OSHA Region 5
Serious violations: After receiving a complaint, OSHA inspected a company that produces stucco and drywall compound for commercial and consumer use. The inspection resulted in 15 serious safety violations for hazards including exposure to excessive silica and airborne dust, lack of a respiratory protection program, use of damaged forklifts, lack of training about the hazardous chemicals in the workplace, exposure to fall hazards in mixing tanks without standard railings, and unsafe walking and working surfaces. “Exposure to silica can be deadly, and limiting that exposure is essential. Every year, many exposed workers lose their ability not only to work, but also to breathe,” said Ann Grevenkamp, OSHA’s area director in Madison.
Penalty: $60,200 fine

Distribution center cited for forklift hazards
Home furnishing retailer
Texas                    OSHA Region 6
Repeat and serious violations: OSHA cited a home furnishing retailer with two repeat and three serious safety violations after uncovering hazards during inspections of two of the company’s distribution centers. The repeat violations were for failing to provide forklift operator training. Serious violations were cited for failing to ensure proper training for forklift operators, failing to conduct proper inspections for forklifts, and using damaged storage racks. OSHA began the inspection after being notified that an electric pallet jack had struck a worker who was subsequently hospitalized.
Penalty: $86,100 fine

Worker suffers heat-related fatality
Petroleum refinery contractor
Louisiana             OSHA Region 6
Serious violation: After receiving notice that a 45-year-old pipefitter at a petroleum refinery had died on the job, OSHA inspected the facility and cited the worker’s employer with one serious violation for failing to implement a heat management program. According to OSHA, the pipefitter was cutting pipe outdoors in four layers of clothing, including a chemical suit, while the outdoor temperature was 83 degrees. The worker’s employer, which was contracted by the petroleum refinery to demolish piping in its sulfuric acid alkylation unit, specializes in turnaround activity at chemical and refinery plants. “A life was needlessly lost because the employer failed to implement a heat management program to protect workers,” commented Dorinda Folse, OSHA’s area director in Baton Rouge.
Penalty: $7,000 fine

Ammonia leak leads to citations
Food processing plant
Kansas                  OSHA Region 7
Serious violations: A food processing facility was cited with 13 serious safety and health violations after OSHA opened an investigation in response to a complaint about an ammonia leak. Inspectors found that about eight pounds of ammonia were released in March from a compressor seal leak at the facility. Eight of the violations involved OSHA’s process safety management standard, which contains requirements for the management of hazards associated with processes using highly hazardous chemicals. OSHA also found the company did not properly mark doors for emergency exit and did not adequately protect workers from operating machinery parts during service and maintenance.
Penalty: $71,700 fine

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