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.
Gary, IN- A worker was seriously injured in an industrial accident at Gary Works Wednesday.
The steelworker suffered multiple injuries and was taken to Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus in downtown Gary. Information on his condition was not immediately available but he is expected to survive.
“We had a worker that got seriously hurt with several injuries but none life-threatening,” United Steelworkers District 7 Director Mike Millsap said. “All I know is he is a maintenance technician and was working on (a blast furnace) and he got hit by something.”
U.S. Steel’s OSHA Recordable Incident Rate has been 0.14 per 200,000 hours so far this year, down from 0.17 in 2017.
Though the United Steelworkers union and steelmakers have worked for years to prioritize workplace safety at the industrial mills, the hulking factories where metal is forged post many inherent hazards that include hot temperatures, catwalks over great heights, and moving equipment that weighs tons. Steelworker ranks as the sixth most deadly job nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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.
Kansas City, MO- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited a Kansas City-area construction company for multiple violations observed during a May jobsite visit.
According to KSHB, OSHA fined Blue Nile Contractors Inc. $210,037 for failing “to protect employees from trench collapse and electrical hazards.” Inspectors reported four repeat and five serious safety violations during the visit to a site where water lines were being installed.
Blue Nile is a minority-owned wet utility contractor that specializes in trenchless sewer and water construction. The Birmingham, Mo., company was selected as one of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Top 10 Small Businesses in 2018.
Blue Nile has been placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program, KSHB reports. The company has 15 days to comply with OSHA demands or contest the findings.
Proper training and education regarding OSHA violations and accident prevention are is one way for companies to combat these high fines.
Waukegan, IL- An OSHA investigation into the deaths of four employees of an Illinois chemical plant has resulted in more than a million dollars in proposed penalties against AB Specialty Silicones LLC.
The company has been cited for a dozen willful federal safety violations in the explosion and fire at its Waukegan facility on May 3, 2019 that caused deaths of four employees.
The silicon chemical products manufacturer faces $1,591,176 in penalties and has been placed in the in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
OSHA investigators determined AB Specialty Silicones failed to ensure that electrical equipment and installations in the production area of the plant complied with OSHA electrical standards, and were approved for hazardous locations. The company also used forklifts powered by liquid propane to transport volatile flammable liquids, and operated these forklifts in areas where employees handled and processed volatile flammable liquids and gases, creating the potential for ignition.
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.