On June 30, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced citations for two repeat, four serious, and two other-than-serious violations found during a Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) follow-up inspection.
Employers included in the agency’s SVEP are subject to mandatory follow-up inspections and increased agency pressure to abate cited hazards.
General Aluminum Mfg. Company was placed in OSHA’s SVEP last year after the agency investigated a worker’s death at the company’s Ravenna, Ohio, facility; issued citations for 38 safety and health violations; and fined the employer $1.6 million.
On March 30, 2021, a 43-year-old worker was fatally injured when the barrier door closed on his head while he was loading a part into a machine. Following the fatality, OSHA cited General Aluminum for lockout/tagout, machine guarding, process safety management, and other violations.
The company has contested those citations, according to OSHA.
On January 3, 2022, OSHA served warrants and opened an inspection at the company’s Conneaut, Ohio, facility. Inspectors found workers were exposed to some of the same machine hazards. Inspectors found indexing tables, sand core machines, and tilt mold devices at the plant lacked adequate machine guarding and workers performed service and maintenance tasks on machinery without following lockout/tagout procedures, exposing them to amputation and caught-in hazards.
“General Aluminum’s continued failure to protect its workers is unacceptable, and its refusal to follow industry safety standards and the company’s policies and procedures to prevent injuries or fatalities is incomprehensible,” William Donovan, OSHA’s Chicago regional administrator, said in an agency statement.
In addition to the absence of guarding on the mold machinery, OSHA identified problems with machine guarding and a lack of protective procedures throughout the Conneaut facility. The agency also found General Aluminum provided workers with insufficient personal protective equipment, including face shields and aprons, and exposed workers to electrical hazards.
“OSHA will continue to take necessary steps to hold General Aluminum accountable for failing to comply with safety and health requirements until the company takes action and demonstrates it is serious about preventing debilitating injuries and saving lives,” Donovan added.
OSHA has had a long history with General Aluminum. The company signed formal settlement agreements with the agency to resolve citations for machine guarding and lockout/tagout violations found during inspections conducted between 2015 and 2017. It hired a third-party consultant to conduct comprehensive machine guarding and lockout/tagout audits between 2017 and 2019, according to OSHA. The audits identified specific machine guarding and lockout/tagout program deficiencies and provided recommendations, but the company failed to fully implement the consultant’s recommendations.
Lockout/tagout (control of hazardous energy) and machine guarding are among the agency’s most frequently cited standards. The lockout/tagout standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.147) was cited 1,698 times in fiscal year (FY) 2021, and the machine guarding standard (§1910.212) was cited 1,113 times.
General Aluminum Mfg. Co., owned by Park Ohio Holdings Corp. in Cleveland, produces engineered automotive castings, according to OSHA. The company employs about 1,200 workers nationwide and 180 employees at the Conneaut location. General Aluminum has locations in Wapakoneta, Ohio, and Freemont and Huntington, Indiana, in addition to the facilities in Ravenna and Conneaut.