Once again, OSHA has found workers at Basic Marine, Inc. in Escanaba, Michigan exposed to dangerous amputation hazards while operating press brakes because safety mechanisms were not in place. The machines cut large metal pieces weighing up to 450 tons.
In the past six years, agency inspectors have found similar hazards three times at the shipyard and boat fabricating facility where a worker's arm was amputated in 2008.
An August 2014 follow-up inspection at Basic Marine produced penalties of $242,940 for five repeated, three willful and 10 serious safety violations, including fall and respiratory hazards. The company has also been placed in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
Employees are blamed
"Basic Marine continues to maintain an environment where employees are blamed if they're injured by dangerous machinery, and it fosters a culture where safety precautions are considered unnecessary," said Larry Johnson, area director of OSHA's Lansing Area Office. "Even when workers are harmed, the company is reluctant to re-evaluate its safety and health programs, and that's wholly unacceptable."
In 2013, fatal falls, slips or trips took the lives of 699 workers, with falls to a lower level accounting for 574 of those fatalities. Fall and machine hazards are the most frequently cited OSHA standards.
Respiratory protection violations
OSHA also found repeated violations of respiratory protection standards, such as not requiring employees to wear air-line respirators. Crane slings were not inspected every three months, and inspection records were not maintained, as required. OSHA issues repeated violations if an employer was previously cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Basic Marine was cited for these hazards in 2011.
In addition, Basic Marine exposed workers to dangerous operating machine parts because it allowed the machines to be used with inadequate protective devices. The company also failed to provide specific written procedures and training for employees on how to prevent unintentional operation of machinery during service and maintenance, such as applying locking devices and turning equipment off. OSHA inspectors also noted unmarked exit signs and the company's failure to post fire watches during welding activities. A total of 10 serious violations were issued.