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.”
Decatur, GA – Last week OSHA announced $132,604 in penalties for safety violations documented at Atlanta Kitchen LLC. According to their press release, Atlanta Kitchen employees were exposed to health hazards from silica used in the facility and safety hazards from amputation risks and electrical dangers found at the Decatur kitchen countertop manufacturer.
Federal workplace safety investigators claim that Atlanta Kitchen exposed workers to unsafe levels of silica. Silica is a mineral used in construction materials which, according to OSHA, can be dangerous if inhaled. OSHA found the manufacturer failed to conduct monitoring to determine employees’ exposure to silica.
In addition, Atlanta Kitchen was cited for Lockout/Tagout failures. OSHA documented failures to develop written procedures for a hazardous energy control and failures in implementing the facility’s lockout/tagout program.
Bluffton, IN – Valero Renewable Fuels was the site of a workplace death this month caused by a lockout accident. A 42-year-old contractor was found dead at the plant, his body trapped in a piece of machinery.
Ryan West became trapped in machinery while working as a contractor at the Valero Renewable Fuels ethanol plant in Bluffton, IN. Local police have stated that Valero employees called 911 saying they couldn’t find West and feared he had been in an accident. When emergency responders arrived, they found his body caught in a piece of equipment. West was employed by Diversified Industrial Services, a grain equipment supplier, and was performing maintenance work on a large auger.
Lockout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the startup of machinery or equipment that may result in worker injury. Lockout/Tagout is also known as LOTO or Control of Hazardous Energy. These terms refers to the same safety standard and procedures and practices designed to prevent the unexpected start up or movement of equipment, especially crucial during maintenance or service work.
A study conducted by the United Auto Workers revealed that 20% of fatalities among their membership were attributed to inadequate hazardous energy control or lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures. An estimated 3 million workers service equipment as a part of their work duties. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard is said to prevent approximately 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year at facilities across the US.
Indiana’s arm of OSHA is investigating this latest incident, while local news media are reporting a history of safety violations at the ethanol plant. Earlier this year, Valero’s Bluffton plant was fined for “serious safety violations” involving machinery safety and lockout/tagout.
Tragedies such as this lockout accident in Indiana are preventable. Please contact a Lockout Specialist at Martin Technical today to discuss how we can help to make your plant or facility better, safer, and more efficient with the support of our suite of Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessment, Training, Machine Safety, and Safety Consulting services.
Napoleon, OH – Failure to lockout a machine at Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corp. was found to have been the cause of a worker’s broken arm. Federal workplace safety agents inspected the aluminum can manufacturing facility following a lockout/tagout accident, and Silgan Containers now faces proposed penalties of $106,080 for one repeat and three serious safety violations of lockout/tagout standards.
The fines were the result of an OSHA investigation triggered by an employee who suffered a broken arm while servicing a machine at Silgan Containers’ Ohio facility. An estimated 3 million workers service equipment at their jobs. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout (LOTO) is not properly implemented. Compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents approximately 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries annually in this country alone, and saves an average of 24 workdays that would be needed for recuperation in the case of a lockout accident.
According to OSHA’s Area Director, “Employers are required to train their employees on proper lockout/tag out procedures to prevent the release of stored energy or unexpected startup of equipment.”
It has been reported that OSHA cited Silgan Containers for similar violations at its Wisconsin plant in 2015.
Contact a Lockout/Tagout Specialist at Martin Technical today to discuss how we can provide practical safety and efficiency services to make your plant or facility a better, safer, and more efficient place to work.
Houston, TX – Machine safety violations found at Custom Rubber Products resulted in over half a million dollars in fines this month. OSHA reported failures in machine guarding which exposed employees to severe injury, amputation, and caught-in hazards. Custom Rubber Products has been fined for similar violations in the past and remains on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
OSHA issued $530,392 in penalties and cited Custom Rubber Products, LLC, for four egregious willful machine safety violations for exposing workers to amputation, machine guarding, and caught-in hazards. The company was cited for similar hazards in 2014 after a worker suffered a severe injury at the rubber fabrication facility. This hefty fine represents the maximum penalty allowable under current federal workplace safety laws.
According to OSHA’s general requirement for all machines, guards must be used to protect operators and other employees from hazards like nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks which might be present during operation of machinery.
As stated by OSHA’s Acting Regional Administrator in Dallas, “Employers are required to assess potential hazards and make necessary corrections to ensure a safe workplace…The inspection results demonstrate workplace deficiencies existed putting workers at serious risk of injury.”
At Martin Technical, our team of machines safety specialists combines the talents of electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, maintenance professionals, and safety experts. We understand that while machines must be safe to use, safety procedures should not hinder production or reduce the capacity of the machine. Our multi-functional teams address safety not only from an engineering perspective, but also from a production line and maintenance perspective. This unique combination of expertise provides our customers the best combination of safety and efficiency. Contact us today to discuss machine and worker safety solutions to make your facility or plant better, safer, and more efficient.