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November 21, 2013
The pitfalls of noncompliance: November 21, 2013

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. Below, you’ll read about seven companies that ran afoul of OSHA regulations and paid the price. Keep reading to make sure you avoid making the same mistakes.

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Fire, explosion lead to citations
Sheet metal manufacturer
Illinois   OSHA Region 5
Serious and repeat violations: On April 1, a dust collector explosion and resulting fire at a sheet metal production facility injured two workers. An OSHA inspection of the facility uncovered 11 safety and health violations. A repeat violation was cited for failing to control hazardous energy, which the facility was also cited for in 2011. The remaining 10 violations were all categorized as serious. One was a general duty clause citation for failing to control hazards from aluminum dust; others included lack of machine guarding, respiratory protection, fall protection, and hazard communication programs; inadequate signage; improperly maintained fire extinguishers; lack of a confined space program; and violations of safe electrical work practices.
Penalty: $51,480 fine

Metal finisher cited for repeat hazards
Metal finishing plant
Connecticut        OSHA Region 1
Serious and repeat violations: A complaint triggered an investigation of a Connecticut-based metal finishing plant that led to 15 safety and health violations, six of which were repeat citations. According to OSHA, the employer failed to provide emergency eyewash stations and eye and face protection for workers around caustic liquids, failed to properly guard machinery, and failed to label containers of hazardous chemicals. OSHA cited the plant for similar hazards in 2010. Nine additional serious citations included failing to monitor exposure to formaldehyde, to provide hand protection, to train workers on fire extinguisher use, to conduct an asbestos survey, and to properly dispose of combustible waste materials.
Penalty: $66,220 fine

Manufacturer cited with 24 violations
Railcar interior manufacturer 
New York              OSHA Region 2
Willful and serious violations: A complaint triggered a March inspection of a railcar interior manufacturer that led to 24 violations, one of which was classified as willful. The willful violation, which carried a $63,000 fine, was for failing to develop, document, and use lockout/tagout procedures to control hazardous energy during machine maintenance. Serious violations included failing to properly store, transfer, and label flammable liquids; lack of machine guarding; failing to train workers on fire extinguisher use; failing to provide workers with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE); and failing to fit-test respirators.
Penalty: $170,100 fine

Repeat violations lead to SVEP placement
Automotive fabric manufacturer
Ohio      OSHA Region 5
Serious and repeat violations: An inspection of an automotive fabric manufacturing plant uncovered amputation, struck-by, and crush hazards and led to 11 citations, three of which were repeat violations. Two of the repeat violations involved lockout/tagout procedures; the third was for failing to record complete injury and illness information in the OSHA 300 logs. Similar hazards were uncovered in a 2011 inspection of another company facility. In addition, the company was cited for inadequate machine guarding and lack of fire extinguisher training. As a result, the company has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), which mandates targeted follow-up inspections.
Penalty: $115,000 fine

Heat fatality leads to general duty clause citations
Ship repair company; Temporary staffing agency
Virginia                 OSHA Region 3
Serious violations: After a temporary worker died from excessive heat while cleaning up debris on the deck of a ship, OSHA cited both the ship repair company and the temporary staffing agency involved under its general duty clause for failing to develop and implement procedures for protecting workers during extreme temperature conditions. Each company has been cited with a serious violation. MaryAnn Garrahan, OSHA’s regional administrator in Philadelphia, commented, “This tragedy underscores how critical it is for employers to ensure frequent access to water, rest, and shade during the hot summer months, and ensure awareness among workers about how to recognize and respond to signs of heat-related illness.”
Penalty: $7,000 fine (ship repair company); $7,000 fine (staffing agency)

Company cited with 7 repeat violations
Wooden pallet manufacturer
Alabama              OSHA Region 4
Serious and repeat violations: An April inspection uncovered seven repeat violations at a pallet manufacturing facility. According to OSHA, workers were exposed to electrical shock, burn, and amputation hazards, and the employer failed to implement a hearing conservation plan. The company was cited for similar hazards in 2009. Three additional serious violations were issued for exposing workers to combustible dust hazards and failing to ensure that powered industrial trucks were in safe operating condition.
Penalty: $76,230

Workers exposed to amputation hazards
Garage door hardware manufacturer
Ohio      OSHA Region 5
Willful and serious violations: An OSHA inspection initiated under the agency’s national emphasis program for amputations and local emphasis program for powered industrial vehicles uncovered numerous hazards at a manufacturing plant and led to 16 safety violations. One willful violation was cited for failing to guard two mechanical power presses. Kim Nelson, OSHA’s area director in Toledo, commented, “Our inspection found that employees were exposed to injury and amputation risk in this facility because of insufficient guarding at the point of operation of various machines. . . . Amputation hazards are one of the leading causes of injury in manufacturing.” The 15 remaining violations, categorized as serious, involved lockout/tagout procedures, forklift training and inspection, electrical hazards, and more.
Penalty: $147,600 fine

Oxygen deficiency causes fatality, OSHA citations
Prevent similar incidents with proper confined space procedures
Avoid six-figure OSHA fines with effective lockout/tagout procedures
OSHA’s hazard communication standard
Common mistakes and tips for compliance
OSHA’s top 10 violations for 2013—and how to avoid them
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