EHS Administration, Enforcement and Inspection

OSHA Cites NJ Manufacturer, Places It in Severe Violator Program

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced May 17 it cited United Hospital Supply Corp. of Burlington, New Jersey, after an employee suffered the amputation of three fingers while operating a press brake without required safety guards on his first day at work. OSHA cited the employer with 3 willful violations, 17 serious violations, and 1 other-than-serious violation; proposed $498,464 in penalties; and placed the company in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).

Employers in the SVEP are subject to mandatory follow-up inspections.

OSHA cited United Hospital Supply for a willful machine guarding violation because supervisors and employees deliberately bypassed the press brake’s light curtain, which led to the amputation. The agency also cited the employer for willfully failing to remove and repair an inoperable forklift and provide hazard communication training for chemicals used in the facility. OSHA also cited the company for chemical training and forklift violations in inspections dating back to 2010.

The agency also found the company exposed workers to welding fumes above the permissible exposure limit (PEL), didn’t provide respirators when needed, failed to develop a lockout/tagout program to prevent accidental machine start-up, and didn’t provide lockout/tagout training.

“Despite previous citations and penalties, United Hospital Supply Corp. has ignored its responsibility for protecting the safety and health of its employees,” Paula Dixon-Roderick, OSHA’s Marlton, New Jersey, area director, said in an agency statement. “Machine guarding is a basic safety measure for reducing dangerous hazards for machine operators which, in this case, could have prevented a new employee from suffering a traumatic life-changing injury.”

OSHA’s standards for hazard communication (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.1200), respiratory protection (§1910.134), lockout/tagout (§1910.147), powered industrial trucks (§1910.178), and machine guarding (§1910.212) are among its top 10 most frequently cited standards.

Colorado contractor cited in teen’s fatal trench injury

On May 17, OSHA also announced it cited GoldStar Excavation and Sewer of Keenesburg, Colorado, after a trench collapse in Greeley led to the death of a teenage employee.

In the incident, a 17-year-old worker suffered fatal injuries after being struck in the head by a large chunk of asphalt, and a company foreman was injured when an unprotected section of an excavation wall caved in on them while they were working on a residential sewer connection.

OSHA issued a serious citation for the violation in the August 13, 2022, trench collapse and proposed $15,625 in penalties—the maximum allowed by law.

On March 8, 2023, the agency opened another inspection of Goldstar after learning employees were again exposed to trenching hazards on a project in Fort Collins, including the foreman injured in the August cave-in.

The agency cited the company with willful violations for exposing workers to cave-ins and failing to train workers to recognize trenching hazards. GoldStar now faces $206,698 in proposed penalties and has been placed in the agency’s SVEP.

“GoldStar Excavation and Sewer’s indifference toward the safety and well-being of its employees cost a young man his life,” Amanda Kupper, OSHA’s Denver area director, said in an agency statement. “With a teenager’s family and friends still grieving, the company again allowed its workers to enter an unprotected trench. GoldStar must comply with required federal safety standards designed to prevent another tragedy.”  

OSHA announced plans last year for 1,000 excavation inspections following an uptick in trenching and excavation fatalities. It also has an ongoing National Emphasis Program (NEP) of targeted enforcement to address trenching and excavation hazards.

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