OSHA has fined a Louisiana-based contractor $179,900 for alleged safety violations related to the injury of a 19-year-old worker at an Atlanta, Texas, worksite in November 2005. The teen lost both his legs as a result of a workplace incident.

Merrick Construction Co., of Cottonport, La., was cited for two alleged willful, 13 alleged serious, and two alleged other-than-serious violations of safety standards following an inspection prompted by the double-leg amputation of a teen laborer who was performing maintenance on a tire shredding machine. The company, which also performs highway construction, reclaims rubber from tires for inclusion with asphalt products.

"Hazardous conditions in the workplace had been brought to this employer's attention by a number of employees, and yet this employer took no action to safeguard workers," said Kathryn Delaney, OSHA's area director in Dallas. "If the company had followed OSHA standards, it is possible the injuries sustained by this young man, as well as others, could have been avoided."

The two willful citations were issued for failing to provide lockout/tagout procedures for equipment during maintenance activities and for failing to train workers.

Among the 13 alleged serious violations were failures to:
  • repair brakes on heavy equipment;
  • safeguard employees against falls from elevated equipment;
  • protect employees from excessive noise;
  • guard moving parts on machinery;
  • repair broken welding equipment;
  • protect employees from electrical hazards; and
  • protect employees from exposure to bloodborne diseases.