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.
Houston, TX – OSHA has issued fines over $500,000 for amputation hazards found at a Houston-area rubber products manufacturing facility. Federal workplace safety investigators documented machine guarding failures that could result in employee injury or possible amputation hazards at Custom Rubber Products LLC.
According to OSHA, the rubber fabrication company has “continually failed” to properly guard machinery. As a result of what were deemed “egregious” willful violations, Custom Rubber Products LLC remains on OSHA’s Severe Violator list for continuing to expose workers to amputation hazards and Custom Rubber Products was issued $530,392 in penalties. This amount represents the maximum OSHA can fine based for these health and safety violations.
Custom Rubber Products was cited for four egregious willfull violations for machine guarding and caught-in hazards. The company has been the focus of OSHA investigators since receiving reports of a worker injury in 2014. At that time, OSHA fined Custom Rubber Products for similar hazards. In this 2019 inspection, OSHA officials found that those hazards had not yet been addressed.
OSHA’s acting regional administrator stated that “Employers are required to assess potential hazards, and make necessary corrections to ensure a safe workplace…The inspection results demonstrate workplace deficiencies existed [at Custom Rubber Products which put] workers at serious risk of injury.”
Wichita, KS – Air Sampling and PPE violations found at Wichita’s largest employer have generated fines of close to $200,000 for Spirit Aerosystems. OSHA officials allege that the Kansas aircraft manufacturer exposed employees to carcinogenic hazards, failed to conduct periodic air monitoring, and failed to ensure employees were wearing effective equipment that would have protected them from dangerous exposure.
Spirit Aerosystems Inc faces penalties of $193,218 for six violations: two repeated and four serious, including allegations that Spirit failed to monitor levels of the carcinogenic substance after a prior documented violation. OSHA claims that painters at the manufacturing facility were exposed to up to 44 times the permissible exposure level of airborne chromium concentration.
Federal workplace safety inspectors documented failures to implement “feasible engineering controls” which would limit Spirit Aerosystem workers’ exposure to carcinogenic hexavalent chromium during aircraft painting and sanding. Additionally, OSHA found a lack of periodic monitoring or air sampling to detect exposure and respiratory hazards.
Spirit Aerosystems is also alleged to have failed to establish protocols to ensure that employees removed contaminated personal protective equipment (PPE) and clothing before exiting affected work areas and that they failed to ensure that worker’s respirators fit properly. OSHA claims that some workers’ facial hair prevented their respirators from making a safe and effective seal.
By failing to prevent exposure to hexavalent chromium during aircraft painting and sanding, OSHA determined that Spirit Aerosystems allowed the accumulation of this carcinogen on surfaces throughout the facility. According to OSHA’s Wichita-Area Acting Office Director, “Inhaling excessive levels of hexavalent chromium can cause asthma, and damage to the kidneys, liver, and respiratory system…It is important for employers to take the appropriate steps necessary to prevent excessive exposure.”
According to OSHA, hexavalent chromium compounds are used as pigments or anti-corrosive agent in paints and other products. Also, they can be used to electroplate chromium onto metal parts. Employees can be exposed to this carcinogen during hot work activities like welding stainless steel or other alloy steels that contain chromium.
In response to these allegations, Spirit made a statement that the company “disputes the accuracy of some of OSHA’s findings,” and will meet with OSHA to discuss the citations and possibility of reduction in the associated penalties.
Natchez, MS – OSHA has cited paper products manufacturer von Drehle Corporation for multiple workplace safety hazards and issued $303,657 in potential penalties, including one for the maximum amount allowed by law.
OSHA’s Area Office Director stated that “employers are required to assess potential hazards, and make necessary corrections to ensure a safe workplace…[This] inspection results demonstrate workplace deficiencies existed, putting workers at serious risk of injury or death.”
Von Drehle Corp issued a statement regarding the citations at their Natchez facility: “Employee safety is the utmost important priority for von Drehle, which is why we fully cooperated with OSHA throughout the inspections.”
Von Drehle is headquartered in Hickory, North Carolina, and manufacturers industrial and commercial paper products like tissue and paper towels at facilities in North Carolina, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee.
In an interview with the Miami Herald, Higgins general manager Andres Perea stated that OSHA “showed up with four inspectors for the first inspection…Then they came back four more times.” The Herald described Perea’s reaction as stunned. He also stated that the North Miami facility had “never had a death, never had an amputation. In the last five years, we’ve had five injuries. The worst was a sprained knee.”
Records indicate that prior to the fall 2018 inspections, OSHA hadn’t inspected the Higgins pet food facility in the past 10 years. In the case of a location, industry, or company without a history of OSHA transgressions, inspections are generally triggered by an incident or complaint. In this instance, the two inspections of the Higgins facility were initiated by worker complaints and referral of another agency.
In their statement on the charges against Higgins, OSHA’s Area Director said that the violations found at the pet food manufacturing facility “put employees at risk for serious or fatal injuries. OSHA also stressed in that same statement that “employers must assess their workplace for potential safety and health hazards, and are encouraged to contact the local OSHA office for assistance with establishing and improving safety and health programs.”
The Miami Herald predicts that as this is Higgins first OSHA offence, it is possible that OSHA and Higgins will be able to settle the fines for less than the initially imposed $95,472. Higgins Premium Pet Foods makes natural pet foods for birds and small animals, and is operated by a company called The Higgins Group.
Montgomery, AL –Sabel Steel Service Inc faces $320,261 in federal fines for unsafe working conditions, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Sabel Steel, which was honored just two years ago for its safety record by the Alabama Department of Labor, disagrees with the findings and will be meeting with OSHA to discuss.
In terms of failures to meet federal Lockout Tagout standards, OSHA inspectors found that the written lockout procedures at Sable were vague, generic, and did not state clearly how to shut down the machine, apply the lock, and restore service. Further, OSHA cited failures to conduct and document periodic inspection of the lockout/tagout (or energy control) procedures. OSHA also fined Sable Steel for failures in regard to lockout training. Employees were found to have been authorized to lockout equipment without first having been trained on how to properly perform lockout/tagout on the machines.
Additionally, OSHA’s statement claims that Sable Steel failed to provide fall protection; failed to conduct medical evaluations to determine an employee’s ability to use a respirator; and improperly stored oxygen, propane, and acetylene cylinders.
Sable Steel is notable as a 162-year-old family-owned company, currently lead by the fifth generation. They supply steel scrap and rebar, and are reported to have quadrupled in size since 1990.
Medford, NJ – DuBell Lumber has been issued $106,432 in OSHA penalties following a federal workplace safety investigation that revealed multiple failures to protect the health and safety of workers at its New Jersey facility.
Lockout, or lockout/tagout, procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment. These written procedures help to prevent the unexpected startup of machinery or equipment that may result in a worker injury.
Millions of American workers service equipment each day – these employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. It is estimated that compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.
OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures. Training is done to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program are understood by employees and that the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls are acquired by employees.
Mount Laurel, NJ – Lockout/tagout training and machine guards could have saved the life of 23-year-old Dakota LaBrecque. That’s the finding of federal workplace safety inspectors following a 2017 worker fatality at Springfield Power LLC’s Springfield (NH) biomass plant.
EWP Renewable (doing business as Springfield Power LLC) faces $125,460 in fines following the employee fatality. OSHA has cited EWP Renewable Corp. for 25 safety violations after 23-year-old employee Dakota LaBrecque was pulled into a conveyor and died from his injuries.
In investigating the facility after the worker’s death, federal workplace safety inspectors found that the conveyor and other machinery lacked required safety guarding, and employees were not trained in lockout/tagout procedures to prevent equipment from unintentionally starting.
Springfield Power was also cited for fall hazards; electric shock and arc flash hazards; and a lack of adequate emergency evacuation, fire prevention, and hazardous energy control programs.
Rosemarie Cole, OSHA’s New Hampshire area director, stated that EWP Renewable’s “failure to protect employees resulted in a tragedy that could have been prevented if training was provided and machinery was appropriately guarded.”
OSHA requires equipment specific lockout procedures for each piece of equipment. These lockout/tagout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment. Martin Technical’s Rapid LOTO lockout procedure development program is designed to provide high quality procedures that are easy to follow.
Additionally, OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures. Proper training ensures that the purpose and function of the lockout/tagout or energy control program are understood by employees and that the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls are acquired by the workforce.
Martin Technical is a leading provider of practical safety and efficiency services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer and more efficient. Our experts can help simplify the complex by applying real-world solutions for Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Training, Machine Safety & Safety Consulting Services. Contact a member of our professional safety services team today.
Hatfield, PA – OSHA has cited Prime Packaging Partners for exposing employees to 19 different safety and health hazards at its Hatfield (PA) dog treat manufacturing facility following an industrial accident in which an employee suffered amputation due to an unguarded saw blade.
The proposed fines for these 19 violations of federal workplace safety standards total $180,685.
OSHA conducted an inspection of the Hatfield (PA) facility following a complaint that an employee suffered an amputation from unguarded saw blades.
According to OSHA, “moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries, such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, or blindness. Safeguards are essential for protecting workers from these preventable injuries. Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact injure the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled.”
During a professional machine safety inspection, each individual machine is registered; and defects are detected and documented. Most importantly, safety hazards are discussed with the staff involved to raise awareness and gain buy-in on the suggested solution.
Following inspection, Martin Technical prepares a report outlining the various deficiencies including photo documentation and a description of necessary changes. Often, this report becomes a cornerstone document for the staff tasked with implementing the safety solutions.
Fostoria, OH – The amputations and injuries that resulted from inadequate lockout tagout procedures and practices at a northwestern Ohio vinyl tile manufacturer have now also resulted in over half a million dollars in fines for federal safety violations.
Nox Corporation has been cited for five “willful” and two “serious” violations related to inadequate lockout tagout procedures. OSHA issued Nox $514,236 in fines on Dec 21, 2017 and has placed the corporation on its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
An investigation into the South Korean vinyl tile manufacturer was triggered by two incidents in 2017 and led to the discovery of eight machine safety violations. One employee required surgery after a tile machine crushed his hand, and shortly afterward, an employee suffered partial amputations of two fingers while working on a recycle material system.
OSHA cited Nox Corp for failing to use adequate lockout/tagout procedures and devices to prevent unintentional machine movement, failure to train employees, and exposing employees to fall hazards. Nox has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
In a statement from OSHA’s Toledo office, the area director stated that “when dangerous machines are not properly guarded or de-energized, employees face an increased risk of serious injuries…Employers must monitor their facilities continuously to ensure workplace safety and health procedures are adequate and effective.”