Lawrence Township, NJ- BWay Corp.—doing business as Mauser Packaging Solutions—received a citation from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for workplace safety and health hazards after an employee suffered an amputation on Sept. 26, 2019, at its Lawrence Township facility. The company now faces $151,329 in penalties.
OSHA inspected the facility after being notified that an employee was cleaning a machine when the amputation occurred. The agency cited BWay Corp. for failing to use lockout/tagout procedures to protect employees from hazardous energy. OSHA cited the company for similar violations at multiple facilities between 2016 and 2019.
“Workers servicing or maintaining machines are at risk of serious injury, including amputations, if hazardous energy is not properly controlled,” OSHA Marlton Area Office Director Paula Dixon-Roderick said in the statement. “This company must correct the hazards identified to protect workers’ safety.”
The company had 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s Area Director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.
New Orleans, LA- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration found numerous safety violations at the site of the 18-story Hard Rock Hotel construction site in New Orleans, which partially collapsed in October, killing three and injuring dozens.
The top floors of the high-rise building on the edge of the French Quarter collapsed unexpectedly on the morning of Oct. 12, sending debris cascading into the streets and injuring workers and bystanders. The bodies of two of the workers killed in the accident remain trapped in the rumble.
OSHA fined 11 contractors on the project for life-threatening violations, with the largest fines imposed against Heaslip Engineering. Heaslip Engineering, based in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, was found to have committed both “serious” and “willful” violations and was fined $154,214.
OSHA’s findings included that “floor beams on the 16th floor were under-designed in load capacity” and “structural steel connections were inadequately designed, reviewed or approved,” the latter a “willful” violation.
OSHA defines a “serious” violation as one that could “cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm.” A “willful” violation is one where “the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement (purposeful disregard) or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.”
Besides the 11 previously stated, other contractors working on the Hard Rock Hotel project were cited for safety violations that included a lack of training, not providing protective equipment and failing to keep exits clear.
Kansas City, MO — A federal agency has opened an investigation after conveyor belt death at a UPS facility in Kansas City, Missouri. A spokeswoman for UPS said Tuesday afternoon that the man, who was transported to North Kansas City Hospital in life-threatening condition on Monday night, died Tuesday morning. The man was an employee of a UPS vendor and was maintaining equipment at the facility when the incident occurred.
Authorities have not released the man’s name or any other details about what led to the incident.
In a statement, UPS said it was continuing to work with authorities.
“We are saddened for the loss of a vendor’s employee, who was maintaining equipment at one of our facilities,” the statement read. “We are working with the responding authorities, and extend our heartfelt condolences to the individual’s family, friends and coworkers.”
According to a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Labor, compliance officers with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have opened an investigation at the UPS facility at 1010 N. Century Ave.
The spokesperson said that no further details will be released until OSHA completes the investigation, which it has six months to do by law.
Understanding OSHA’s regulations and having proper employee training is essential in avoiding hazardous situations, such as this conveyor belt death.
The agency, which has jurisdiction over 7 million work sites across the U.S., prioritizes inspections at places that present “imminent danger situations” or where “severe injuries and illnesses,” including work-related fatalities, have occurred.
Emergency crews responded to the facility, which is just south of Front Street and east of Interstate 435, around 6 p.m. Monday. Crews performed CPR on the man on the way to the hospital.
Police initially reported that the man had been pronounced dead at the UPS facility, but said about an hour later that he was alive but had life-threatening injuries. UPS confirmed his death on Tuesday afternoon.
Houston,TX- A massive explosion rocked a northwest Houston neighborhood Friday morning, breaking windows, collapsing ceilings and even knocking houses off their foundations up to two miles away, resulting in two fatalities.
Houston fire officials say the chemical involved in the explosion was propylene.
As a hazardous chemical, propylene is covered by a number of federal environmental and worker safety regulations.
Companies have to file those inventories with the state, its local emergency planning committee and the local fire department.
On its 2015 inventory, Watson Grinding and Manufacturing did not include propylene. It only listed liquefied oxygen.
If a company releases propylene into the air, it is required to report that release in the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory. Most releases of propylene occur at larger chemical companies. Propylene is used in plastic manufacturing to make polyproplyene which is used in countless household products. It’s also used as a fuel in large and small facilities.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers propylene a hazardous material. There’s a number of worker safety rules that apply to the storage and handling of propylene and other liquefied petroleum gases that are similar to it.
The OSHA regulations related to propylene all likely applied to Watson Grinding and Manufacturing. The company was fined in 2013 for failing to properly control hazardous energy. Propylene would likely be covered by those rules.
According to the company’s website, Watson Grinding and Manufacturing provides machining, grinding, lapping & thermal spray coatings to customers. It claims to specialize in the turning and milling of exotic alloys, hard metals and large parts.
“The quality of our in-house manufacturing processes is assured by our ISO 9001:2008 certification, team of QA/QC certified professionals and our fully equipped in-house Metallurgical Laboratory,” the website states.
At 9:30 am, Houston Fire Department says HazMat crews have secured the 2,000 gallon tank of propylene gas that was leaking at the blast site. There is still reportedly a small fire burning.
According to a news released dated November, 2015, the company is located in more than 84,000 square feet of facilities, and employs more than 125 people.
Buford, GA- A Buford distribution center has received over $190,000 in fines for safety violations that put its employees at risk, the U.S. Department of Labor said.
The $191,895 fine was levied against Mavis Southeast — the company better known as Mavis Discount Tire — on Dec. 23, following a routine inspection by the Occupational Safety and Heath Administration done on Sept. 11. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
Inspectors found some warehouse emergency exits were blocked with items including stacks of tires, putting employees at risk in case of a fire or other instances when an urgent exit would be required. The facility also lacked emergency exit signs in required positions, a repeat offense, the agency said in its citation report. The repeat violations stem from issues first recorded in 2016, the report says.
Employees were seen without required safety equipment while working at elevations up to 25 feet, and multiple industrial storage racks had visible damage, presenting a risk to warehouse workers, the report said. Aisles where workers walk near trucks and other industrial machinery were not properly labeled, risking workers being struck by machinery, the report said. Congested and narrow aisles also presented a danger to forklift operators, according to the report.
Fire extinguishers were not easily accessible and did not undergo required monthly inspections or an annual maintenance check, the report said. Multiple violations regarding a lack of employee safety training were also noted in the report.
The company must respond the citation within 15 business days and include certifications that show the violations have been fixed. Mavis Southeast has the right to contest the citations and fines, but must do so within the 15-day period.
Kentucky, USA- The family of a Kentucky man killed in a workplace incident has filed a lawsuit against his employer, GE Appliances, as well as other parties.
Steve Herring, who has worked for GE Appliances for more than two decades, died in February after being pinned by machinery while working on a refrigerator-building assembly line. News sources are reporting that the state OSHA’s investigation into the workplace incident found that it could have been caused by an inadvertent activation of an improperly positioned gate interlock control.
The lawsuit filed in Jefferson Circuit Court last week names General Electric Company, Design Safety Engineering Inc., Doerfer Corperation, Doerfer Acquisition Company, JR Automation Technologies LLC, Haier US Appliance Solutions Inc. and Kentucky resident Mark Miller as defendants.
The lawsuit claims that the assembly line Herring was working on was “unreasonably dangerous” and in “defective condition.” It alleges that there were no instructions or warnings about the hazards on the line — and that the companies being sued were aware of the defects. The suit requests punitive and compensatory damages.
According to Kentucky OSHA, GE made changes to the safety programming on an assembly line that was identical to the one at which Herring was pinned following a 2014 incident. However, the company didn’t fix the line where Herring worked until after Herring died.
An inspection conducted by the agency after the fatality resulted in GE being cited for seven safety violations and fined $98,000, which the company is appealing.
Athens, GA- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited national discount retailer Dollar Tree Stores Inc. at its store on Atlanta Highway in Athens, Georgia. The company faces $125,026 in proposed penalties for exposing employees to safety hazards.
OSHA cited the company for exposing employees to struck-by, trip and fall hazards by failing to keep passageways and walking surfaces in a clean, orderly and sanitary condition. OSHA found unsafely stacked cases of merchandise and blocked emergency exits, and cited Dollar Tree for not maintaining access to portable fire extinguishers.
“These hazardous conditions unnecessarily exposed employees to potentially life-threatening injury,” said OSHA Area Director William Fulcher, in Atlanta-East. “There is no reason why the employees in this store should have been subjected to the same hazards previously identified and cited at other Dollar Tree locations.”
Dollar Tree Stores has a long history of serious and repeated violations related to unsafe stacking of merchandise and blocked exits. Since 2015, OSHA has cited the Chesapeake, Virginia-based company for similar violations at locations in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Wisconsin, Idaho, Texas, New York, and Rhode Island.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance.
New Jersey- Nearly one-third of the employers in the state hit with initial safety violation fines of $40K or more are government agencies. But many cases are settled for lesser amounts.
New Jersey employers have been hit with at least $16.6 million in fines since 2015 for having unsafe workplaces and conditions.
Fines levied by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration against employers in the state over the past five years peaked in 2017. In 2017, the federal agency levied more than $4.9 million in fines against at least 60 companies.
All told, the Network reviewed OSHA data of more than 200 enforcement cases with initial penalties of $40,000 and higher. Data for enforcement cases with penalties less than $40,000 were not available.
Most of the reviewed cases involved private employers. However, almost 30% of the penalties involved local, state or federal government agencies, the Network’s analysis shows. The initial penalties in those cases totaled more than $4 million.
The Network ‘s ranking of the data is based on the initial penalties OSHA levied against employers, not the final amount paid. Many of the cases the Network reviewed are still under appeal. Employers frequently enter into settlement agreements with OSHA for reduced penalties that require the employer to address the agency’s safety concerns.
For contractors and companies to avoid such fines, proper training and up-to-date standards practiced is essential.
Orlando, FL- A coworker of two men who fell to their deaths at a hotel construction site near Walt Disney World’s Epcot last year has sued Marriott and others in Orange Circuit Court, saying the companies acted with “gross negligence” by not providing sufficient safeguards for workers. The incident left Brown shaken, leading to his taking medication for depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, and suing for $15,000 in damages.
A scaffold 80 feet up supporting the men collapsed on Aug. 29, 2018, under the weight of concrete being poured during the 16-story hotel’s construction. The hotel remains on schedule to open early next year, according to Marriott’s website.
In March, OSHA found that the accident occurred after supports collapsed while workers were pouring concrete on the seventh floor of the hotel structure. OSHA said that PCL and Universal Engineering did not inspect formwork, shoring, working decks and scaffolds to ensure compliance with formwork drawings and that PCL did not make sure the formwork brace was able to support vertical and lateral loads.
OSHA fined both PCL and Universal in connection with the accident but ended up withdrawing the citations and fines issued to Universal a few weeks later. PCL is contesting the three OSHA violations — two serious and one willful— and the $144,532 in fines.
Eau Claire, WI – A cookie dough manufacturing facility in Eau Claire, Wisconsin faces $782,526 in penalties for “continually exposing employees to machine safety hazards.” Choice Products USA LLC was cited for similar machine safety violations following an OSHA inspection in 2016, and as a consequence has now been placed in OSHA’s severe violator enforcement program.
Choice Products was cited for five egregious willful violations for their failures to implement an effective lockout/tagout (LOTO) program. OSHA also found that employee training on lockout/tagout was inadequate to prevent worker’s from unintentional contact with machinery during service and maintenance activities. Federal workplace safety inspectors also determined that Choice Products failed to install proper machine guarding.
Choice Products had been cited in a 2016 inspection for exposing employees to similar lockout/tagout and machine safety hazards.OSHA’s severe violator enforcement program targets employers who have demonstrated what they term an “indifference” workplace safety obligations by committing “willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.”