Articles | Cases

OSHA watch

Reminder: Deadline for training OSHA for first phase of Hazcom compliance is December 1

The first phase of the new OSHA requirements for Hazard Communications goes into effect December 1. (see article in last month's eBulletin)

Preliminary list of top ten violations

The preliminary list of OSHA's top 10 violations for FY2013 (Oct. 1, 2012 to Sept. 30, 2013) announced at the National Safety Council's 2013 Congress and Expo are:

  1. Fall Protection (1926.501): 8,241
  2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 6,156
  3. Scaffolding (1926.451): 5,423
  4. Respiratory protection (1910.134) 3,879
  5. Electrical, wiring methods (1910.305) 3,452
  6. Powered industrial trucks (1910.178) 3,340
  7. Ladders (1926.1053) 3,311
  8. Lockout/tagout (1910.147) 3,254
  9. Electrical, general requirements (1910.303) 2,745
  10. Machine guarding (1910.212) 2,701.

The same 10 standards made up the top 10 in 2012 - the order was just slightly different. The top 4 were exactly the same. Ladders fell two places from No. 5 to No. 7. Electrical wiring methods moved up three spots from No. 8 to No. 5.

Web tools for limiting chemical exposures

A toolkit offers a step-by-step guide on transitioning to safer chemical substitutes, while an annotated PEL table lists voluntary limits from other organizations, including NIOSH's recommended exposure limits and American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists' threshold limit values. These limits are often lower than OSHA's.

Recent fines and awards

OSHA wins jury trial regarding whistleblower violations by Manatee School for the Arts - Florida

A trial by an eight-member jury in U.S. District Court found that Renaissance Arts and Education Inc., (RAE) doing business as Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, and its principal, Dr. Bill Jones, violated the whistleblower protection provisions of Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act when the charter school terminated a worker for engaging in protected activity and voicing and reporting concerns regarding work-related safety hazards. The verdict calls for Manatee School and Jones to pay the worker $55,000 in back wages and $120,000 in punitive damages. One of the issues involved was whether the privately run charter schools was subject to OSHA; the court determined RAE [Manatee] is not a political subdivision of the state and, therefore, not exempt from OSHA's definition of employer.

Contractor and five subcontractors face $280,000 in fines - New Hampshire

The general contractor and five subcontractors working on the construction of the Berlin Power Plant in Berlin were cited for 31 willful, serious and repeat violations of workplace safety standards. The employers face a combined $280,880 in proposed fines following inspections conducted in response to complaints. Violations included cave-in, fall, scaffold collapse, crushing, lead and electrocution hazards.

Rebecca Minkoff LLC cited for exit access hazards at company's Manhattan office and showroom - New York

Rebecca Minkoff LLC was cited for willful and serious violations of workplace safety standards at the fashion retailer's corporate office and showroom in Manhattan. The company, which manufactures handbags, accessories and apparel for women, faces $77,000 in fines for hazardous conditions that include impeding a swift and safe exit in case of emergency. The citations and fines follow an inspection that was prompted by a worker complaint.

Metal hatch manufacturer cited for 13 serious safety hazards - New York

EJ USA Inc., a metal hatch manufacturer, faces $56,000 in fines for 13 violations of workplace safety standards at its Cicero plant. The inspection was conducted under OSHA's Site Specific Targeting Program, which directs enforcement resources to high-hazard workplaces with the highest rates of injuries and illnesses.

Violations include failure to institute a hearing protection program; prevent an overexposure to metal fumes, including hexavalent chromium; provide a handrail on stairs; cover containers of flammable liquids; lockout machinery while performing maintenance or conducting inspections of the lockout/tagout procedures and adequately guard machinery and guard live electrical parts among others.

Pipe manufacturer cited for 16 serious health and safety violations after worker fatally struck by forklift - New York

National Pipe and Plastics Inc., of Vestal, was cited for 16 serious violations of workplace health and safety standards after an incident in which a truck driver working for a separate company was fatally struck by a forklift driven by a National Pipe employee. OSHA inspectors determined that two of the 16 violations found related to the truck driver's death; the forklift had an inoperative backup alarm, and the forklift driver did not have a clear view of the travel path. The total proposed penalties are $67,000.

Hazzard Marine cited with 32 safety and health violations - South Carolina

Hazzard Marine LLC was cited with 32 safety and health violations and $59,200 in proposed penalties following a May inspection prompted by a complaint at the marina in Georgetown. Hazzard Marine provides services for boat repair, cleaning, storage, dock rental and refitting. Violations included failure to develop and implement a written respiratory protection program, identify and evaluate respiratory hazards in the workplace, and develop, implement or maintain a written hazard communication program.

West Fertilizer Co. faces $118,000 OSHA fine for April blast - Texas

The parent company of a fertilizer storage facility has been issued $118,300 in proposed OSHA penalties for violations in connection with an April explosion that killed 15 people in West, TX. Adair Grain Inc., doing business as West Fertilizer Co., was issued 24 serious safety violations for allegedly exposing workers to fire and explosion hazards of ammonium nitrate, as well as chemical burns and inhalation hazards from anhydrous ammonia storage and servicing.

Manufacturing plant fined for exposing workers to airborne hazards - Wisconsin

Fiberdome Inc. has been cited for 10 health violations and $49,500 in penalties following an investigation of the Lake Mills fiberglass manufacturing plant. Workers were exposed to styrene - a chemical used extensively in the manufacture of plastics, rubber and resins-in excess of permissible limits. OSHA initiated the inspection after receiving a referral alleging workers were experiencing respiratory irritation due to chemical exposure.

Engulfment in grain bin leads to proposed penalties of $140,000 and placement in SVEP Program - Wisconsin

United Ethanol LLC has been cited for 15 health and safety violations after a worker was fatally engulfed in corn inside a grain storage bin at the Milton ethanol manufacturing facility. Due to the nature and severity of violations, the company has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.

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