Enforcement and Inspection

The Reign of OSHA Six-Figure Penalties Continues Unabated

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continues to hand out six-figure penalties to employers across industries, including construction, manufacturing, poultry processing, and wholesale trade.

Money, fines, citations, penalties

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OSHA cited two construction contractors at the Port of Wilmington, Delaware, that now face $687,619 in penalties.

Enerfab Process Solutions & Fabricated Products, Inc., and Industrial Services Group Inc. were renovating a 1.5-million-gallon aboveground storage tank at an orange juice processing facility at the port when an employee suffered a fatal 40-foot fall from a scaffold.

Five Amputations in a 14-Month Period

Missouri Cooperage Company, a Lebanon, Missouri, barrel maker, faces $413,370 in federal penalties after an employee suffered a finger amputation.

The employee’s hand was caught between a belt and pulley system. This was the fifth amputation injury the company reported in a 14-month period. Inspectors cited the company for a repeat machine guarding violation.

The agency also cited the company for exposing employees to electrical and occupational noise hazards, failing to implement adequate lockout/tagout procedures, and creating a potential fire hazard by allowing combustible dust to accumulate on floors and surfaces.

Severe Violator, Special Emphasis Programs

The agency cited Payne Enterprises Inc., a Dayton, Ohio-based plumbing contractor, for exposing employees to multiple trenching and excavation hazards following an employee fatality. The company faces penalties of $145,860. OSHA added the company to its Severe Violator Enforcement Program because the company was cited for similar violations in 2017 and 2018.

The agency cited Optima Stantron Corp. for exposing employees to amputation, combustible dust, and other hazards at its Lawrenceville, Georgia, manufacturing facility. The designer and manufacturer of electronic cabinets faces $161,020 in penalties. OSHA inspected the facility under its National Emphasis Program for Combustible Dust and its Regional Emphasis Program for Powered Industrial Trucks.

Produce Wholesaler Failed to Respond

Paris Produce failed to respond to citations issued after an August 2017 inspection and was reinspected this year. The agency cited Paris Produce for failing to correct workplace hazards identified in the August 2017 inspection at its Pleasantville, New Jersey, facility. The company faces $236,089 in penalties for failure-to-abate violations for allowing employees to operate forklifts without proper training and failing to develop and implement a hazard communication program for employees using chemicals for cleaning and sanitation.

Inspectors also identified two repeat violations involving blocked exits and failing to train employees on hazardous chemicals.

Anhydrous Ammonia Leak

OSHA cited Laurel, Mississippi, poultry processor Wayne Farms LLC for exposing employees to hazardous chemicals after 12 employees were transported to hospitals following the release of 2,100 pounds of anhydrous ammonia.

The agency cited Wayne Farms for failing to:

  • Provide an operating alarm system to indicate the release of hazardous chemicals;
  • Equip an ammonia refrigeration system with a pressure relief device referenced in the manufacturer’s operating manual;
  • Train technicians to use an alternative overpressure safety procedure to prevent pipes from rupturing and releasing anhydrous ammonia;
  • Perform management-of-change procedures to determine the effects of removing safety relief devices from condensers;
  • Make medical surveillance available for response team members exposed to hazardous substances above the permissible exposure limits;
  • Inspect Level B respiratory protection equipment; and
  • Provide a medical evaluation to determine each employee’s ability to use a respirator.

The agency conducted its inspection under two special emphasis program: the Regional Emphasis Program for Poultry Processing Facilities and Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals National Emphasis Program. OSHA is seeking $119,341 in penalties.

Employer Takeaways

You can learn from these employers’ mistakes:

  • Be aware of special emphasis programs for your industry or the hazards and processes in your facilities;
  • Consider utilizing OSHA’s compliance assistance resources, which are not part of the agency’s enforcement program;
  • Ensure you have a fall protection program in place and that all your employees follow the program’s procedures;
  • If your facility has been inspected and cited for OSHA violations, respond to the agency’s citations, follow up on abatement, and examine the compliance measures you have in place; even though the agency has limited enforcement staff, it has robust information management systems—OSHA will be back; and
  • Track accidents, amputations, other injuries, and near hits, and reevaluate hazards in your facility and the hazard controls you have in place.