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OSHA watch

Federal appeals court slaps OSHA on "look back" period

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has ruled that companies may be held liable for reporting violations for only six months-not five years, as the agency had ruled in a case involving Volks Constructors of Prairieville, LA. The law requires employers to retain their illness and injury logs for five years, and destruction or loss of those records remains a violation within the five-year limit.

The government argued that all the violations for which Volks was cited were "continuing violations" and that "such violations continue every day that an unmet record-keeping obligation remains unsatisfied." Both the dissenting commission judge and the court called that line of reasoning an attempt to "tie this straightforward issue into a Gordian knot."

OSHA launches regional outreach campaign to protect employees from workplace 'Struck By' vehicle accidents

A regional outreach initiative in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska is designed to educate workers and their employers about preventing "struck by" vehicle accidents in the workplace. "Struck by" injuries and fatalities are caused by conventional traffic/passenger vehicles, forklifts and other moving powered industrial equipment such as cranes and yard trucks. OSHA has developed educational materials called "Evaluate Your Entire Surroundings," or E.Y.E.S., that are available in both English and Spanish.Materials and additional information regarding this initiative can be obtained by contacting OSHA's offices in St. Louis at 314-425-4249; Wichita, Kan., at 316-269-6644; Kansas City, Mo., at 816-483-9531; Omaha, Neb., at 402-553-0171; or Des Moines, Iowa, at 515-284-4794.

OSHA announces new National Emphasis Program for nursing and residential care facilities

OSHA has a new National Emphasis Program for Nursing and Residential Care Facilities to protect workers from serious safety and health hazards that are common in medical industries. OSHA develops national emphasis programs to focus outreach efforts and inspections on specific hazards in an industry for a three-year period. Through this NEP (.pdf), OSHA will target nursing homes and residential care facilities in an effort to reduce occupational illnesses and injuries.

Information for employers and employees in nursing homes and residential care facilities, including guidance on ergonomics and workplace violence, is available at

Recent fines and awards

Complaint leads to proposed fines of $192,000 for Alabama Farmers Cooperative - Alabama

Following an inspection initiated by a complaint, OSHA has cited Alabama Farmers Cooperative with 17 safety and health violations for exposing workers at its Decatur facility to combustible dust and other hazards.

Follow up Severe Violator Enforcement Program inspection results in fines of $118,700 for Chicago meat plant - Illinois

OSHA has cited Anaheim, Calif.-based Bridgford Foods Corp. with 22 safety and health - including four repeat - violations at its Chicago meat processing plant. The company was placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program in 2010. This OSHA inspection was the fifth since 2007 of the Chicago facility and two other facilities in Texas have faced substantial fines.

Shipbuilder faces more than $171,000 in fines - Maine

Bath Iron Works, a General Dynamics company, is facing $171,000 in fines for exposing workers to fall, mechanical and electrical hazards at its Bath shipyard in Augusta, Maine. The inspection was conducted under OSHA's Site-Specific Targeting (SST) program and a local emphasis program focusing on hazards in ship and boat building and repair.

Contractor cited for fall hazards in three states - Massachusetts

Plainville, Mass.-based framing contractor, Shawnlee Construction LLC, faces a $50,000 proposed fine after an inspection by OSHA found employees exposed to falls of up to 11 1/2 feet. The sizable fine proposed in this case reflects this employer's history of fall protection violations, having been cited for similar hazards in three different states over the past five years.

Company placed in severe violator enforcement program - Ohio

Knowlton Manufacturing Co. Inc. in Cincinnati was cited with 10 safety violations - including three willful and one repeat - after an employee's arm was amputated, while the individual was performing maintenance on a mechanical power press that did not have its energy source properly secured. Due to the willful and repeat violations and the nature of the hazards, OSHA placed Knowlton Manufacturing in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations and mandates targeted follow-up inspections.

Proposed penalties of $84,150 for chocolate company after serious injury - Pennsylvania

OSHA has cited Tsudis Chocolate Co. for two repeat and 14 serious safety violations at its Pittsburgh candy manufacturing facility after a worker sustained head injuries while setting up operations on a machine that started up inadvertently. The violations focus on safe energy control and electrical work practices.

Site-Specific Targeting Program leads to fines of more than $45,000 - Pennsylvania

Cylinder caps and related compressed gas cylinder products manufacturer American Cap Co. LLC, faces fines of more than $45,000 for serious violations involving guarding machinery, providing proper equipment and safe tools as well as others.

20 safety violations lead to penalties of more than $71,000 - Wisconsin

An inspection following a complaint at Duraframe Dipnet's facilty in Viola found repeat violations regarding combustible dust and machine guarding as well as serious violations regarding training, sanitary conditions, and various electrical and respiratory hazards.

Contractor faces fines of $121,600 for failing to protect workers from falls - Wisconsin

Neenah-based GTO Contractors LLC was cited with six safety - willful, repeat and serious - violations for failing to protect workers from falls. OSHA began an inspection under a local emphasis program on fall protection after inspectors witnessed workers exposed to fall hazards at commercial roofing work sites in Janesville and Middleton.

Detailed descriptions of the citations above and other OSHA citations can be found here. here.