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OSHA watch

Cell tower deaths trigger letter and webpage

In response to recent deaths related to communication tower collapses, OSHA has sent a letter to industry employers urging adherence to safety standards. Thirteen worker deaths occurred in the communication tower industry in 2013, most of them caused by falls, and four workers died in the first five weeks of 2014. The Feb.10 letter also notes that OSHA will be paying close attention to contractor and subcontractor oversight issues and contractor selection should include safety criteria.

A webpage covering issues surrounding communication tower work is also available.

2014 inspection plan released to reduce injuries and? illnesses at high-hazard workplaces

The Site-Specific Targeting 2014 annual program aimed at directing enforcement resources to workplaces where the highest rates of injuries and illnesses occur has been released.

Small-farm inspector guidance document withdrawn

OSHA has withdrawn from its website a guidance document for compliance officers who inspect grain storage facilities, stating that it is working on a new version to ease concerns expressed by members of Congress that the guidance ignored a law exempting family farms from OSHA inspections.

Deadline extension for crane certification proposed

On February 10, OSHA proposed a three-year extension to the crane operator certification deadline to November 10, 2017 and requested public comment on or before March 12, 2014.

Food industry whistle-blower protections issued

New whistle-blower protections and new procedures for handling retaliation complaints for food industry workers as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act were published in the Feb. 13, 2014, Federal Register.

Shipyard guidance updated

The guidance document on the enforcement of shipyard safety and health standards has been updated. The Directive provides information on the various requirements and offers answers to commonly asked questions relating to the shipyard industry. Many of the revisions in the new rule are updates to existing requirements; however, the final rule establishes, for the first time, requirements for the control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout) in the shipyard industry.

Updated educational resources: cold stress; whistleblower complaints under the ACA

An updated QuickCard provides tips for employers of all industries on how to protect workers from cold stress. It addresses common types of cold stress, risk factors and recommendations.

In addition, the Fact Sheet on Filing Whistleblower Complaints under the Affordable Care Act (pdf) has been updated and is available in both English and Spanish. The revised fact sheet includes a summary of the Affordable Care Act, types of retaliation, coverage, and the process of filing a complaint.

Recent fines and awards

Wire manufacturer fined more than $109,000 - Connecticut

Radcliff Wire Inc. was fined more than $109,000 for serious and repeat violations of workplace safety standards after an inspection of the Bristol, Conn., wire products manufacturer. Conducted under the Site-Specific Targeting Program, the inspection found hazards that could expose workers to electric shock, arc flashes, fire, eye and crushing injuries.

Manufacturer faces $700,000 in fines following fatality - Florida

Following an investigation of the death of a 32-year-old machine helper, Wire Mesh Sales LLC was cited for eight per-instance willful violations as well as a number of other repeat, serious and other-than-serious citations. The light curtain that would have automatically turned the machine off before the helper entered the danger zone had been disabled. Proposed penalties total $697,700 and the company has been put into OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

Contractor fined for exposing workers to cave-in hazards - Massachusetts

Excavation and utilities contractor Joseph P. Cardillo & Son Inc. was cited for willful and serious violations of excavation safety standards at a Milton work site as a result of an inspection prompted by a complaint. Cardillo faces $144,400 in proposed fines and the company has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

Roofing company fined $52,800 for workplace safety violations - Missouri

Andres Roofing Co. Inc. was cited for four repeat safety violations with proposed penalties of $52,800. The employer repeatedly exposed workers to fall hazards at a residential construction site in Kirkwood. Since 2010, the Des Peres-based company has been cited in four inspections for similar violations.

Plumbing company cited after worker fatally injured in trench collapse - Missouri

Larry Strate Plumbing & Heating was cited after a foreman was fatally injured while working in an excavated trench in Lee's Summit. The worker was installing sanitary sewer lines at a residential home under construction when the incident occurred. Five serious violations have been issued to the Holden-based company.

Contractors fined at Canastota Wastewater Treatment Plant - New York

Serious workplace safety violations were found in connection with the explosion at the Canastota Wastewater Treatment Plant that killed one worker and injured another. Two contractors, Joy Process Mechanical Inc. of East Syracuse and M. Hubbard Construction Inc. of Mottville face fines of $14,700 and $31,020 respectively for violations related to working in a confined space.

Recycler cited for heat-related death - New York

Cooper Tank & Welding Corp., doing business as Cooper Tank Recycling, was cited for eight serious health and safety violations following the heat-related death of a 64-year-old worker at the Brooklyn recycling facility. The inspection found that the company failed to inform and train workers on the recognition, prevention and treatment of heat-related illnesses and did not provide temperature controls in the work area or implement a work/rest regimen. The company faces $40,500 in fines.

AT&T sued after 13 workers suspended for reporting workplace injuries - Ohio

OSHA has filed a lawsuit against The Ohio Bell Telephone Company, which operates as AT&T, after 13 workers were suspended without pay for reporting workplace injuries. The workers were disciplined and given one- to three-day unpaid suspensions for reporting injuries that occurred on the job, which violates whistleblower provisions.

Pasta manufacturer faces more than $75,000 in fines - Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Macaroni was cited for 13 alleged workplace safety and health violations-five of them repeat-at its Warminster facility. The inspection, initiated under the Site-Specific Targeting Program that directs enforcement resources to workplaces with the highest injury and illness rates, resulted in proposed penalties of $75,483.

Manufacturer faces $106,000 for serious safety violations at metal stamping plant -Wisconsin

E.R. Wagner Manufacturing Co. has been cited for 14 safety violations, carrying proposed penalties of $106,000. The inspection was initiated under the Site-Specific Targeting Program.

Iron foundry cited for 10 safety violations after furnace operator fatally injured - Wisconsin

Torrance Castings Inc. has been cited for 10 safety violations after a furnace worker was fatally injured at the La Crosse-based iron foundry while working alone conducting maintenance in a permit-required confined space. Proposed penalties are $47,700.

Aluminum co. faces $77,472 in fines after worker exposed to chlorine gas at smelting plant - Wisconsin

Beck Aluminum Alloys Ltd., which operates Beck Aluminum Racine, has been cited for 13 serious violations, carrying proposed penalties of $77,472. OSHA initiated an inspection of the Racine aluminum plant in September 2013 after receiving a referral that a worker was sickened by exposure to hazardous chlorine gas while changing cylinders. The inspection also found that company officials did not remove other workers from the area after exposure to the gas was known and failed to evaluate the danger to life and health.

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