Two Connecticut Firms Face OSHA Fines
Both cited in previous years for safety violations
Two Connecticut companies were recently cited by OSHA for serious safety violations. One, a manufacturer, was found to have committed repeated and serious violations of workplace safety standards at its facility. The company faces $56,430 in proposed fines following an inspection by OSHA’s Bridgeport Area Office begun Dec. 3, 2013, in response to a worker complaint.
Inspectors found several hazards similar to those cited in June 2010 at another of the company’s facilities, including failing to provide a program to ensure workers are trained to power down and lockout industrial saws prior to conducting maintenance; provide a chemical hazard communication program and training on the risks and safeguards associated with chemicals, such as paints and gels; and prevent usage of unapproved electrical equipment in areas that generate and accumulate combustible wood dust.
“Left uncorrected or allowed to recur, these conditions expose employees to hazardous chemicals, fire, and lacerations and amputation by activated machinery,” said Robert Kowalski, OSHA’s area director in Bridgeport. “An employer must ensure hazards are consistently and effectively addressed to provide employees a safe and healthful work environment.”
The conditions resulted in the issuance of eight repeat citations, with $53,460 in proposed fines. Additionally, one serious citation, with a fine of $2,970, was issued for an inadequately guarded radial arm saw.
A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited previously for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule, or order at any of its facilities in federal enforcement states within the last five years. 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.
The second company, also a manufacturer, was cited for serious and repeat violations of workplace safety standards following an inspection by OSHA’s Hartford Area Office. An inspection began on July 23, 2013, under OSHA’s Site Specific Targeting Program, resulting in $109,340 in proposed fines.
“The sizable fines proposed here reflect the breadth and gravity of these hazards and the fact that this employer has been cited previously for several of these conditions,” said Warren Simpson, OSHA’s area director in Hartford. “Left uncorrected, plant employees are exposed to hazards, such as electric shock, arc flashes, fire, eye and crushing injuries. It’s imperative that employers not just correct hazards, but effectively prevent their recurrence.”
Inspectors found similar violations to those cited in October 2009, including failing to train maintenance personnel on the practices of using the personal protective equipment required for protection against electric shock, arc flashes or arc blasts while trouble-shooting or working on live electrical equipment; use fixed wiring, rather than extension cords, to power equipment and prevent blocked access to an electrical disconnect; provide designated workers with annual hands-on fire extinguisher training; and review the hazardous energy control program annually to prevent machine startup during maintenance. These violations resulted in $53,900 in proposed fines.
The company was given 15 serious citations, with $55,440 in fines, regarding new violations, including failing to prevent the plant electrician from working on live electrical equipment before it was deenergized; provide a program to inspect the hydrogen piping systems for defects or hazards; inspect protective gloves every six months; and store flammable chemicals properly. Additional serious citations include failing to dispose of flammable rags properly; provide a written chemical hazard communication program; label hazardous chemical containers; guard moving machine parts; prevent excess air pressure for a cleaning hose; provide protective goggles while operating a cleaning hose; provide eye protection for those working with corrosive chemicals; periodically inspect slings used to lift dies; and additional electrical hazards.
Both companies have 15 business days from receipt of its failure-to-abate notices, citations, and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Information about controlling electrical hazards is available at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3075.pdf.
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