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OSHA watch

Campaign to prevent heat illness in outdoor workers launched

The fourth annual Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers aims to raise awareness and educate workers and employers about the dangers of working in hot weather.

Machine Guard Standard upheld by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (St. Louis)

In a split decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in St. Louis, has sided with OSHA on its interpretation of a machine guarding standard, 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(1).

Perez v. Loren Cook Company, involved an employee of a manufacturer of air circulating equipment who was killed when he was struck on the head by a 12-pound work piece, which flew from an unguarded lathe he was operating. The lathe once had protective guards, but they had been removed. OSHA contended the lathes should have been guarded and issued seven violations at $70,000 apiece, totaling $490,000.

The Missouri-based company appealed, in part claiming OSHA's interpretation was novel and thus unreasonable. An administrative law judge (ALJ) issued a decision siding with the employer, saying the standard did not apply because it pertained to ejected debris, not ejected work pieces and the standard was intended to apply to normal operations, not malfunctioning situations. The Secretary of Labor appealed and the decision of the ALJ was overturned.

New "We Can Do This" video explains the value of Injury and Illness Prevention Programs

"We Can Do This!" is a new seven-minute video that explains how injury and illness prevention programs enhance workplace safety and health. The video explains the basic elements of these programs and how employers have implemented them.

Whistleblower suits in Missouri and Massachusetts

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. on behalf of four employees who received disciplinary action and unsatisfactory performance appraisals for reporting workplace injuries that occurred in Missouri and Kansas in 2011 and 2012. The company alleged the four employees violated safety policies but an OSHA investigation found that the employees were illegally disciplined for reporting their injuries.

The U.S. Department of Labor also has sued Donald Pottern, doing business as Crown Furniture, of West Springfield, Mass., for firing a worker who filed a safety complaint with OSHA. The worker alleged safety and health hazards in the basement of Crown Furniture including the presence of asbestos, mold and rodents. Pottern discharged the employee after questioning him as to why he filed the complaint. The worker then filed a discrimination complaint with OSHA, which investigated and found merit to the complaint.

Recent fines and awards

Contractor faces $196,000 in fines - Connecticut

Stamford-based contractor, Cesar Mendoza, d.b.a. KI Management LLC faces $196,000 in fines following an inspection at a Bridgeport work site, which found that workers demolishing and rehabbing a building allegedly were exposed to potentially fatal crushing injuries and other hazards "due to their employer's failure to brace the building's walls and adhere to basic, legally required safeguards."

3-D printing firm faces $64,000 in fines - Massachusetts

Triggered by an explosion and fire, which inflicted third-degree burns on a company employee, the inspection found that Powderpart Inc., a Woburn 3-D printing company, failed to prevent and protect its workforce from the fire and explosion hazards of reactive, combustible metal powders, such as titanium and aluminum alloys, which are used in the company's three-dimensional printing process.

Contractor cited for "needless and avoidable" fatal fall - Massachusetts

A 51-year-old roofer fell 17 feet to his death while performing roofing work on a condominium in Stockbridge, Mass. An investigation found Lee-based Fairview Contractors Inc., failed to provide fall protection and guardrails that would have prevented the fall from occurring. The company faces $119,350 in proposed fines.

Safety hazards at healthcare manufacturer lead to $93,200 in fines - Massachusetts

Andover Healthcare Inc., a maker of coated fabrics and adhesives for the health care industry, faces $93,200 in proposed fines for two repeat and seven serious violations. The inspection conducted under the Site-Specific Targeting Program, which focuses on facilities with a higher than average illness and injury rate, discovered that the company inadequately trained employees to implement lockout/tagout procedures and that workers at a Salisbury manufacturing plant were at risk of being caught in machinery or crushed.

Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co. cited after worker fatally struck by forklift - Michigan

Following the death of a worker who was hit by a forklift at the Detroit marine terminal, Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co. was cited with nine violations, including two willful. The company has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Proposed penalties are $168,700.

Workers exposed to dangerous silica dust at Omaha stone-cutting facility - Nebraska

Baltazar's Stone Inc. was fined $40,921 for exposing workers to dangerous silica dust levels and other hazards at the Omaha stone-cutting facility. Prompted by a complaint, the inspection resulted in 15 violations.

General construction company cited for 'entirely preventable' fatal fall - New York

Watertown-based general construction contractor MTL Design Inc., faces $88,900 in proposed fines following the death of a 23-year-old construction worker at a Pulaski work site as a result of a fall.

Manhattan jewelry and accessories chain faces $47,000 in fines - New York

A Manhattan-based women's jewelry and accessories maker faces $47,600 in proposed penalties for exposing workers to blocked exits, fire and safety hazards. In response to a complaint alleging unsafe workplace conditions, Natasha Accessories Ltd. was cited for eight serious and three repeat violations.

Workers exposed to fall hazards at residential construction site - Pennsylvania

Residential builder and remodeler, Custom Valley Builders LLC, located in Lykens, was cited for exposing workers to safety hazards at a work site in Hegins. Workers were exposed to a fall hazard while replacing the roof, siding and windows on a two-story residence. Following an inspection initiated under the agency's Fall Protection Regional Emphasis Program, the company faces proposed penalties of $33,200.

Failing to protect workers from toxic chemical hazards leads to fines over $50,000 - Wisconsin

Power Coatings LLC, a company that specializes in powder coating metal parts, was cited for 14 serious safety violations, including failing to protect workers from toxic substances. Proposed penalties of $51,800 resulted from a complaint inspection of the Janesville facility.

Cooper Power Systems fined $166,000 after multiple workers injured by acid mixture - Wisconsin

Following injuries to seven workers at Cooper Power Systems LLC, including chemical burns to the skin and irritation to their respiratory tracts requiring urgent medical treatment, the company was cited for failing to provide workers with required protective equipment to prevent exposure and failure to provide required training in hazardous material cleanup procedures.

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