OSHA fines over $16 Mil in New Jersey Violations

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.OSHA fines companies for unsafe work conditions in New Jersey

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.

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Fatality in Pallet Factory and 2 other Workers Injured in Sydney

Sydney, Australia- A 30-year-old man was crushed to death at a pallet factory in Sydney’s west, one of three industrial accidents across the city on Wednesday. Ambulance crews were called to a pallet factory at Forrester Road in St Marys about 5:40am, where they found a 30-year-old man with severe head injuries. Paramedics treated the man at the scene but he could not be saved.

As mentioned, this was only one of the multiple recent industrial accidents in this area of Australia this week.

In the city’s east, a man is in a critical condition following a workplace accident at an address in Point Piper. Emergency crews were called to a home on Longworth Avenue about 7:30am, after receiving reports a man had fallen 8 to 10 meters from a scaffolding fall.

In Pyrmont, a worker has been taken to hospital with head injuries after he was struck by falling pipes.

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Three Workers Burned in Arc Flash at Ontario Mall

workers burnedLondon, Ontario – O’Connor Electric Ltd was fined $60,000 this week as a consequence of a Jan 2018 arc flash incident which burned three electrical workers at an Ontario shopping mall. The company plead guilty to failing to establish and implement written measures and procedures to ensure that its workers were adequately protected from electrical shock and burn.

At the time of the arc flash incident, a crew of six were upgrading the service in an electrical room at the mall. The workers were planning on installing a new disconnect switch and wiring. Three O’Connor Electric employees has started installing the disconnect when an arc flash occurred. Canadian Occupational Health and Safety officials determined that the existing service had not been shut down when work began. Mistakenly working on an energized electrical system lead to the arc flash which burned the employees.

In Canadian court proceedings this week, O’Connor Electric Ltd. and one supervisor plead guilty. The supervisor was charged with failing to ensure workers followed OHSA guidelines for properly disconnecting the power supply. The company was charged $55,000 in penalties, and the supervisor was fined $5,000.

Ontario Construction Regulations dictate that power supply “to the electrical equipment, installation or conductor shall be disconnected, locked out of service and tagged … before the work begins, and kept disconnected, locked out of service and tagged while the work continues.” Accordingly, the Ministry of Labour found that O’Connor Electric failed to establish working conditions compliant with that regulation, and that the supervisor failed to ensure that workers followed the regulations.

Arc flashes are violent and lightning-quick. They can cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment. There are many avenues to mitigate or reduce the risk of arc flash incidents and their threat to electrical and maintenance workers. Contact a member of our Electrical and Industrial Safety team today to discuss Arc Flash Assessment and Labeling, Compliance, and/or Training needs of your staff and facility. At Martin Technical, our goal is always to provide practical safety and efficiency services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer, and more efficient.

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NJ Aluminum Plant Announces Layoffs Following $1.9M OSHA Fine

Delair, NJ – Aluminum Shapes LLC announced layoffs effecting 61 employees this month as a consequence of heavy fines incurred under the newly implemented increased OSHA fee structure. A statement from Aluminum Shapes reads: “The size of OSHA’s fine as it stands today has forced the company to take these extreme measures.”

The aluminum parts manufacturer was cited in July for 51 safety and health violations following workplace accidents that hospitalized two employees earlier in the year. At that time, Aluminum Shapes management argued that the new OSHA fee structure “results in higher fine amounts and unfair media attention, even as conditions improve.” The tlayoffsotal penalty for the 51 violations was $1.9 million as fines for repeat violations have increased from $70,000 per infraction to $124,709 per under the new fine structure.

OSHA fines and penalties increased 78% in the fall of 2016 after legislation took effect which required federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation. The last update to OSHA’s penalty/fine structure occurred in 1990, so this recent jump reflects 26 years without increase or update.

The layoff announcement included 51 unionized workers, 6 front-office staffers, and 4 front-office managers. This affects about 13 percent of the company’s 367 unionized workers. Aluminum Shapes LLC had recently grown from 376 to 480 employees.

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