Last week in OSHA activity:
Dangerous overpass painting, lunching with cadmium and where's the eyewash?
From unnecessarily dangerous overpass painting to workers storing their lunches at cadmium-contaminated workstations, OSHA's recent citations and orders were directed at a range of employers including a construction company, a gun manufacturer, a sponge processor and a trucking company.
Whistleblower protection in Knoxville, Tennessee
OSHA ordered Knoxville-based Heartland Transportation Inc. to reinstate a former employee and pay him $62,090 in compensatory and punitive damages plus more than two years of back wages, interest, benefits and reasonable attorney's fees. The worker was fired after complaining about mechanical failures in trucks he was assigned to drive for his employer, a contract mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. The order issued by OSHA also requires the trucking company to expunge any adverse references from the complainant's personnel records relating to the discharge.
Fall hazards in Champaign, Illinois
After four separate safety inspections, Gire Construction Inc. was cited for six violations -- five of them willful for failing to provide fall protection to roofers working on commercial and residential projects. The Champaign-based company faces penalties totaling $144,100. OSHA initiated an inspection under a local emphasis program for fall hazards on May 27 at a Gire worksite in Decatur, where 21 workers were observed removing shingles from a commercial building without fall protection. Two willful violations were cited for the lack of fall protection as well as related training.
On June 3, Gire Construction employees were observed at two separate residential sites in the same Champaign neighborhood performing roofing work without fall protection, which resulted in citations for two more willful violations. Another willful violation was cited for failing to have a ladder extended 3 feet over the roof's eave.
Failing to require workers at a site in Rantoul to use eye protection earned the company a serious violation.
Gire Construction is no stranger to OSHA. The company has been inspected five times since 2004 by, resulting in citations for 12 violations related to fall protection, personal protective equipment training and ladder usage.
Dangerous overpass painting in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
After observing a bridge painter straddling the parapet of a highway bridge overpass, an OSHA compliance officer inspected the worksite and found that United contracting of Forest Junction, Wisconsin failed to provide scaffolds designed by a qualified person and to provide fall protection for workers painting road overpasses at two separate Fond du Lac job sites. Proposed fines total $149,200. The parapet -- a device intended to prevent users from falling off where there is a drop -- was less than 42 inches high.
The company was also cited for failing to block parapet hooks to prevent movement, not securing parapet hooks, allowing employees to sit on a parapet wall without adequate fall protection and not properly securing personal fall arrest system snap hooks.
United Contracting also was inspected on June 28, after local law enforcement notified OSHA that a worker had fallen from a scaffold being erected on an overpass at a different location. In addition to failing to have scaffolds designed by a qualified person and to provide fall protectionthe company wracked up violations for failing to provide forklift training, block parapet hooks from movement, secure parapet hooks and secure the scaffold platform used as a ladder access point, as well as for making alterations to a forklift.
Prior to these inspections, United Contracting had been inspected by OSHA 15 times since 1993. Previously known as United Painting Inc., the company was cited for violations of fall protection and scaffolding standards on four other occasions.
No machine guarding for table saws in Troy, Texas
Ameri-Tech Industries LLC, doing business as Ameri-Tech Building Systems, has been cited for 16 serious safety violations at its manufacturing facility in Troy. Proposed penalties total $52,200.
A complaint about unsafe working conditions led to an inspection that uncovered a lack of fall protection -- such as horizontal lifelines used with full-body harnesses and lanyards; a lack of machine guarding for table saws as well as anti-kickback features; failure to maintain portable fire extinguishers fully charged and accessible for immediate use; failure to provide illuminated exit signs; failure to require the use of hand protection while working with sheet metal; failure to ensure that power tools and electrical cords were maintained in a safe, working condition; failure to utilize electric equipment is a safe manner and to ensure electrical paths to ground are permanent, continuous and effective.
Center, Texas-based Ameri-Tech, specializes in manufacturing portable metal buildings and employs about 200 workers.
Chemicals but no eyewash station in Paterson, New Jersey
Supply Plus NJ, Inc. faces proposed penalties totaling $126,000 after OSHA inspections resulted in more than two dozen safety violations at the company's Paterson facility.
One willfull violation was for failing to provide machine guarding.
Violations including failing to provide machine guarding, failing to keep work areas and passageways free of litter; provide guardrail protection, guard machines and electrical boxes; provide an eyewash station; provide personal protective equipment for workers handling chemicals; provide industrial truck and hazardous communication training; ensure exit routes were unobstructed and visibly marked; make sure exit doors could open properly; cover electrical panel boards supplying power for equipment and lighting; properly use flexible cords; implement a lockout/tagout program for energy sources to prevent machines from accidentally starting up during servicing and maintenance; perform workplace hazards assessment and develop a written hazardous communication program. There were also several record-keeping violations cited.
Supply Plus is a sponge processing company that employs about 40 workers at its Paterson location.
Unsafe conditions at well-known gunmaker in Ilion, NY
The Remington Arms Co., Inc. has notched nearly three dozens citations for serious violations involving mechanical, electrical and chemical hazards at its Ilion, NY manufacturing plant. Proposed fines total $170,000.
Specifically, OSHA found violations involving a lack of personal protective equipment; accumulations of toxic substances lead and cadmium on surfaces in the plant; food and beverages stored and consumed at cadmium-contaminated work stations; failing to provide workers with training and information on lead and cadmium; and not determining cadmium exposure levels. The inspection also identified numerous electrical hazards and instances of unguarded moving machine parts; improper storage and transfer of flammable liquids; a lack of procedures to lock out machines' power sources to prevent their unintended startup during maintenance; unguarded openings and defective ladders; defective powered industrial trucks and untrained drivers; inadequate fire extinguisher training and availability; unlabeled permit-required confined spaces; no continuous, effective extermination program for vermin; unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals; and several exit deficiencies including a locked exit door, obstructed exit routes, umarked exits, and non-functioning emergency and exit lighting.