The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited a West Texas metal fabricator for repeatedly exposing employees to fall, machine, and other safety hazards, placing the employer into the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) and seeking proposed penalties totaling $364,078.
On October 18, 2021, OSHA opened an inspection of Kyoei Steel LTD, operating as Vinton Steel LLC, after receiving notification from the employer that a worker was treated at a medical facility for second-degree burns to his left hand. Agency inspectors determined that the employee was using a heat torch when oxygen leaked from a hose that was in poor condition, causing a fire flash in the roll and bearing shop at the facility. The agency determined the company failed to provide safety devices for welding equipment and exposed workers to fire hazards.
On January 10, OSHA received an employer report of an amputation injury. On January 26, the agency received a complaint alleging that employees were forced to jump approximately 3 feet from a ladder onto a crane platform that had no safety rail system, exposing workers to fall hazards.
OSHA placed Kyoei Steel into its SVEP after 10 incidents in 5 years, including 5 amputation injuries.
Kyoei Steel LTD, based in Osaka, Japan, operates as Vinton Steel in El Paso, where the company employs approximately 400 employees represented by United Steelworkers Local 9424, according to the agency.
Employers included in the SVEP are subject to mandatory follow-up inspections and increased agency pressure to abate cited hazards.
Fall hazards cited at two separate jobsites
A Waukegan, Illinois, contractor faces proposed penalties of $360,531 for exposing workers to deadly fall hazards at two separate jobsites, according to OSHA. Joshua Herion, who does business as ECS Roofing Professionals Inc., has a history of violating federal safety standards and ignoring safety citations, the agency said.
An agency inspector reported observing a foreman and two roofers atop a Hoffman Estates, Illinois, commercial building, working at heights of up to 20 feet off the ground with inadequate fall protection. Ten days later, an OSHA inspector observed a crew of 3 working at heights greater than 12 feet atop a residential building in Waukesha, Wisconsin, without fall protection equipment.
“In both of these incidents, the foreman left the site and directed others to do so when OSHA inspectors began asking questions about their safety procedures,” OSHA’s Chicago North Area Director Angeline Loftus said in an agency statement.
“This defiant act demonstrates Joshua Herion and his company’s disregard for the safety and well-being of workers and the law,” she added.
The agency’s construction industry fall protection standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1926.501) topped the list of OSHA’s most frequently cited standards again last year. Inspectors cited 5,295 violations in fiscal year (FY) 2021.
OSHA will hold its annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls May 2–6.
Maine contractor facing over $501K in penalties
OSHA also alleged a Maine roofing and siding contractor willfully exposed its employees to fall hazards at a Hampden, Maine, residential construction site on multiple occasions. The agency has proposed a total of $501,376 in penalties for ARP Renovation LLC/A.R.P. Roofing & Siding LLC due to the companies’ refusal to provide fall protection and other safeguards for their employees. The Maine company, A.R.P. Roofing & Siding LLC, operates as a single entity with Medford, New Jersey-based ARP Renovation LLC, both solely owned, controlled, and operated by Andrew Raymond Pollock.
OSHA inspectors responded to reports of workers being exposed to fall hazards while working on the roofs of buildings in Hampden, finding at least 5 employees exposed to falls of 10 to 18 feet to the ground and pavement below.
OSHA said it repeatedly informed Pollock of the fall protection requirement. After the employer continually refused to correct the hazard, OSHA posted an imminent danger notice at the site.
“How dangerous is working without fall protection? Falls are the leading cause of death in construction work in the U.S., the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports,” OSHA’s Boston Regional Administrator Galen Blanton said in a statement.
“In 2020, falls accounted for more than one-third of all construction fatalities nationwide.”