Enforcement and Inspection

Recent OSHA Citations Result in Costly Proposed Penalties

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited the U.S. subsidiary of a multinational electrical equipment maker for violations of confined space entry, respiratory protection, and other standards, seeking $119,757 in proposed penalties.

OSHA penalties and citations

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The agency concluded that workers at Schneider Electric’s Oxford, Ohio, production facility were exposed to dangerous asphyxiation hazards and the potential for serious injury.

OSHA compliance officers inspected the Oxford facility in response to a January 2021 complaint and found machine operators and maintenance employees routinely entered powder-coating ovens without testing atmospheric conditions or securing natural gas lines and operating machine parts.

“Confined spaces often expose workers to atmospheric and mechanical hazards,” OSHA Cincinnati Area Director Ken Montgomery said in an agency statement. “OSHA has specific regulations for implementing required training and safety procedures to protect workers who must enter confined spaces, including atmospheric testing and ensuring equipment and energy sources are disabled before workers enter these spaces.”

OSHA determined Schneider Electric exposed workers to multiple safety and health hazards by failing to designate the ovens as permit-required confined spaces. The agency also determined that the employer failed to isolate natural gas lines and mechanical energy to the ovens during maintenance procedures—a violation of the federal lockout/tagout standard.

The agency also found that the company:

  • Did not have an adequate respiratory protection program, including fit testing, training, and medical surveillance, for employees required to wear respirators when working with the dust collectors;
  • Failed to train employees on the hazards of the powder coat used on the company’s products;
  • Failed to clean working areas, allowing epoxy powder coat to accumulate on surfaces, thus exposing workers to methyl imidazole, a potential eye, lung, and skin irritant;
  • Failed to provide required fall protection, exposing employees working on top of ovens to fall hazards of up to 20 feet; and
  • Lacked employee training on safety and health hazards in the facility and required safety procedures.

OSHA cited Schneider Electric for 11 serious violations and 1 other-than-serious violation.

Seneca Foods Forklift, Lockout/Tagout Violations

OSHA cited Seneca Foods Corp. for two repeat and three serious safety violations involving forklift training and machine safety procedures at the company’s Ripon, Wisconsin, canning facility after a forklift struck and seriously injured a 60-year-old seasonal employee as she walked toward a pallet to label products for shipping. The agency proposed $177,490 in penalties.

OSHA found that another employee suffered a fractured finger when it was caught in machinery that the company failed to lock out to prevent unintentional movement, as required. The agency cited Seneca Foods for similar violations in 2019 at its Gillett, Wisconsin, facility.

“OSHA has specific regulations for disabling machines and equipment prior to maintenance and service,” Appleton, Wisconsin, Area Director Robert Bonack said in an agency statement. “Injuries can be prevented by ensuring employees receive required training and follow safety procedures.”

Seneca Foods processes and packages fruits and vegetables for sale under the Aunt Nellie’s, Green Valley, Libby’s, and Seneca labels, according to the agency.