Company faces $330,800 in OSHA fines

Employees at the Central Transport LLC freight shipping terminal in Billerica, Mass., were exposed to electrocution, falls, crushing and other injuries due to their employer's knowing and repeated disregard for basic worker safeguards, OSHA has found. The company faces $330,800 in fines for these hazards.

"Several hazards were brought to management's attention, but the company took no corrective action, while other conditions were strikingly similar to violations for which Central Transport was previously cited at its locations in Illinois and Mississippi. The cited conditions put employees at risk of deadly or disabling injuries," says Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA's acting deputy regional administrator for New England. "It's clear that Central Transport must systematically and effectively address and eliminate hazards at all its locations. The safety and well-being of its employees, now and in the future, depend on it."

OSHA found that the building's roof leaked water on to the work floor where electrical cabinets and forklift battery chargers were located. Employees stood in water while plugging in battery chargers and drove forklifts in slippery conditions. This exposed workers to possible electrocution, forklift tip-overs, and slipping hazards.

Employees also were exposed to falls from the loading dock entrance ramp, which lacked required guardrails. Crushing or struck-by injuries arose from the use of defective forklifts, which were not removed from service. Given the company's knowledge of and failure to address these conditions, OSHA cited Central Transport for four willful safety violations, carrying $242,000 in fines. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing, or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Two repeat violations, with $44,000 in fines, were issued for hazards similar to those cited in 2012 at company facilities in Hillside, Illinois, and Pearl, Mississippi. These violations involved unstable and insecure stacking of materials and failure to inform employees of the dangers associated with hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Eight serious violations, with $44,800 in fines, were issued for inadequately evaluating workers' ability to operate forklifts; unattended forklifts; lack of fire extinguishers; and tripping and electrical hazards.

A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility 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 citations can be viewed here.

Central Transport, based in Warren, Michigan, employs about 4,300 workers at 170 locations nationwide, including 18 employees at the Billerica location. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.