Latest OSHA Activity

HR & Safety

Bristol trash-to-energy plant faces $80,000 in fines

OSHA has cited Covanta Energy Bristol Inc. for 16 serious violations of workplace safety and health standards. These include:

  • Allowing combustible dust to accumulate on ledges, conduits, floors, guardrails, work platforms and catwalks
  • Failing to determine employees’ exposure level to ash containing toxic metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic
  • Inadequate training and protective clothing for an employee performing testing on live electrical parts
  • Inadequate safeguards for employees working in confined spaces
  • Lack of an emergency eyewash for employees working with batteries
  • Fall, fork truck, air pressure and mechanical hazards

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known

“Covanta Energy Bristol Inc. needlessly exposed its employees to the hazards of electrocution, fire, falls, slips and trips, crushing, being trapped or overcome in a confined space, eye injuries, and cancer, lung, or kidney damage,” said Terence McEvily, OSHA’s acting area director in Hartford. “It must take effective steps to eliminate these hazards and prevent them from happening again.”

OSHA and NIOSH Issue Hazard Alert on Protecting Workers from Silica Exposure During Countertop Manufacture and Installation

OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have jointly issued a hazard alert about protecting workers from significant crystalline silica exposure during manufacturing, finishing, and installing natural and manufactured stone countertops.

The hazard alert follows reports of 46 workers in Spain and 25 workers in Israel who developed silicosis–an incurable, progressively disabling, and sometimes fatal lung disease–as a result of exposure to crystalline silica in their work manufacturing stone countertops. Ten of the workers in Israel required lung transplants as a result of their condition.

OSHA and NIOSH have identified exposure to silica as a health hazard to workers involved in stone countertop operations in the United States, both in fabrication shops and during in-home finishing/installation. The alert jointly issued by OSHA and NIOSH explains how this hazard can be mitigated with simple and effective dust controls.

Crystalline silica is found in granite, sandstone, quartzite, various other rocks, and sand. Workers who inhale very small crystalline silica particles are at risk for silicosis. Symptoms of silicosis can include shortness of breath, cough, and fatigue and may or may not be obviously attributable to silica. Workers exposed to airborne crystalline silica also are at increased risk for lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease.

The hazard alert details what can be done at stone countertop fabrication and installation worksites to protect workers from exposure to silica. This includes monitoring the air to determine silica exposure levels; using engineering controls and safe work practices to control dust exposure; and providing workers with respiratory protection when needed, training, and information about the hazards of silica.

Massachusetts Roofing Contractor Cited for Fourth Time for Exposing Employees to Potentially Fatal Falls; Faces $43,560 in Fines

William Trahant, Jr., Construction, Inc., of Lynn, Mass., was cited by OSHA for one willful, one repeat, and three serious violations of workplace safety and health standards. These include: lack of fall protection for employees repairing an asphalt shingle roof on a three-story house, inadequate anchorage points for fall arrest lines, and not training employees to recognize and address fall hazards.

An additional fall hazard stemmed from using a damaged portable ladder, with split rails and bent rungs, to access the roof. Finally, an employee working on the ground beneath the roofers lacked a hardhat, exposing him to falling objects.

The willful and repeat citations stem from this employer’s history of fall protection violations. William Trahant, Jr. Construction, Inc., was previously cited by OSHA for similar violations in August 2014 for a worksite located in Revere, Mass., September 2012 for a site in Peabody, and July 2011 for another site in Peabody.

“Trahant Construction continues to demonstrate a wanton disregard for employee safety, exposing its employees to deadly or disabling injuries on multiple occasions,” said Anthony Covello, OSHA’s acting area director in Andover. “Falls are the leading cause of death in construction work. This employer must take steps to effectively train and enforce a culture of safety for himself and his employees.”

Central Transport LLC Shipping Exposes Terminal Employees in Multiple States to Injuries and Death from Defective Forklifts

Employees at Central Transport LLC’s 170 freight shipping terminals nationwide use forklifts daily to move, handle, load, and unload freight and other materials. These vehicles must be maintained according to recognized safety standards, so that workers are not crushed, struck by, or injured by defective forklifts.

Multiple inspections during the last several years by OSHA have found that Central Transport has repeatedly left dangerously defective forklifts in service in at least 11 shipping terminals in nine states: Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

As a result, the department has filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission seeking an order to require the freight shipper to remove damaged, defective and unsafe powered industrial trucks from service at all its locations nationwide.

“A systemic problem demands a systemic solution,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Central Transport’s corporate safety managers participated in several OSHA inspections and were aware of the widespread nature of these hazards, but have not corrected them across the board. This means that employees at many Central Transport terminals continue to be exposed to deadly or disabling injuries day after day. This must change.”

The department’s complaint alleges that Central Transport has been aware of the need to remove damaged, defective, and unsafe forklifts from service since 2006. Several OSHA inspections resulted in 11 citations and final orders, which required Central Transport to remove damaged forklifts from service. However, OSHA inspections in 2014 of company freight terminals in Billerica, Massachusetts, and Rock Island and Hillside, Illinois, found that the company, despite its awareness of the hazards involved, knowingly allowed this dangerous practice to continue at multiple locations.

“When a company operates in multiple locations and workers face similar hazards at many, if not all, locations, their safety can’t be addressed in a piecemeal fashion. Given the breadth and severity of the hazards these workers face, and Central Transport’s failure to respond proactively, we are seeking an order requiring correction at all of the company’s locations where these hazards exist,” said Michael Felsen, the department’s regional solicitor of labor in Boston, whose office filed the complaint.

Central Transport, based in Warren, Michigan, employs about 4,300 workers at 170 locations nationwide.

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