Archive for the ‘Lock Out Tag Out’ Category

Florida Nonprofit facing $228K fine

January 24, 2014 Leave a comment

Pensacola, FL: OSHA is proposing $228,600 in fines for Teen Challenge of Florida Inc., a nonprofit rehabilitation program, after the agency said it found 25 safety and health violations at the organization’s facilities in Pensacola, Fla.

The Pensacola Teen Challenge Men’s Center says its mission is to help men 18 and older “who are struggling with drug addiction, alcoholism and other life-controlling issues.” The organization, which is part of Teen Challenge International, runs a screen-printing operation, a detail shop, a wood shop and two thrift stores, according to a report on the website of WEAR ABC 3 in northwest Florida.

OSHA said it initiated the July 2013 inspection after receiving a complaint alleging safety and health hazards.

“This employer willfully disregarded worker safety by exposing workers to amputation hazards,” said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA’s area director in Jacksonville, Fla. “The hazards found during our inspection must be eliminated from this workplace immediately.”

Three willful violations, with $162,000 in penalties, allegedly involve Teen Challenge exposing workers to amputation hazards by not providing machine guarding on the hand-fed ripsaws, the cutting heads of the routers and the abrasive wheels on the grinding wheel, according to OSHA.

Eighteen serious safety and health violations, with $66,600 in penalties, include allegedly failing to:

  •                               Provide workers first aid training in case of an emergency.
  •                               Provide a suitable eyewash facility.
  •                               Close unused openings in boxes, raceways, cabinets and equipment cases.
  •                               Have uniform step heights on a standard stairway and keep exit routes unobstructed.

The employer also exposed workers to numerous instances where the machines had no guarding, several electrical deficiencies were present and various tripping hazards were observed, according to OSHA.

OSHA cited Teen Challenge for four other-than-serious violations, stemming from the organization’s alleged failure to: illuminate exit signs; certify forklift operators as competent to operate powered industrial trucks safely; establish a respiratory protection program; and have forklift nameplates and markings in place and in legible condition. No monetary penalties were assigned for the other-than-serious violations.

Teen Challenge has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply or contest OSHA’s findings.

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NH: $280K Fine Handed Out by OSHA

January 14, 2014 Leave a comment

Berlin, NH: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the general contractor and five subcontractors working on the construction of the Berlin Power Plant in Berlin, New Hampshire for 31 willful, serious and repeat violations of workplace safety standards. The employers face a combined $280,880 in proposed fines following inspections by OSHA’s Concord Area Office, which started in March in response to complaints.

“Workers at this site were exposed to serious and potentially fatal injuries from a variety of hazards. These included cave-in, fall, scaffold collapse, crushing, lead and electrocution hazards,” said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA’s area director for New Hampshire. “While it is fortunate no one was killed or seriously injured, worker safety cannot and must never be left to chance. For the safety and well-being of their employees, these employers must supply and ensure the use of proper safeguards on their job sites.”

Northeast Utilities Enterprises Inc., doing business as E.S. Boulos Co., of Lewiston, Maine, an electrical contractor that installed the primary electrical wiring and transmission lines, was issued one serious citation with a $5,000 fine, for exposed live electrical wiring, unlabeled electrical panels and not closing unused electrical cabinet openings effectively.

Vaillancourt Electrical Service of Berlin, which installed and maintained temporary power throughout the job site, was issued five serious citations, with $11,600 in fines. It allowed workers to be close to an energized 480-volt electrical panel, which exposed workers to arc flash and blast hazards; it did not ensure the use of personal protective equipment; and it overlooked deficiencies involving temporary lighting, electrical cords and a panel, and did not guard an energized electrical panel from water.

Virginia Transformer Corp., of Roanoke, Va., which furnished and installed the main power transformer, was issued one serious citation, with a $7,000 fine, for allowing workers to be close to an energized electrical panel.

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NE: Nebraska Beef Fined $61,084: Electrical Safety

OMAHA, Neb. – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Nebraska Beef Ltd. with eight safety violations, including one repeat, for failing to guard open stairs and platforms to prevent a fall hazard at its Omaha beef processing plant. Proposed penalties of $61,084 resulted from the November local emphasis program inspection for high-hazard general industry establishments, as identified by injury and illness rates in Nebraska.

“Nebraska Beef has a responsibility to recognize the hazards that exist in the workplace and to install barriers, signage and make appropriate repairs to ensure a safe working environment,” said Bonita Winingham, OSHA’s area director in Omaha. “Employers who are cited for repeat violations demonstrate a lack of commitment to employee safety and health.”

The repeat violation was cited for failing to provide standard railings and toe boards on open-sided floors and platforms 4 feet or above an adjacent floor or ground level. This violation was noted on a crossover platform in the scale room. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. A similar violation was cited in 2011.

Seven serious violations were cited for failing to post warning signs indicating permit required confined spaces, use lockout/tagout devices for purposes other than controlling energy sources, and provide an eyewash station and a clear path to safety showers for employees exposed to corrosive chemicals, such as bleach, and properly adjust machine guarding. Three of the violations involve electrical safety standards, including operating machinery with visible electrical hazards, such as broken wires and damaged junction boxes, and failing to cover outlet boxes and use permanent wiring instead of flexible electrical cords. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Nebraska Beef has been inspected 12 times since 1998, resulting in several citations for violations, such as lack of fall protection, inadequate machine guarding and electrical safety hazards. The company has 15 days from receipt of the citation and proposed 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.

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WA: Electrical Surge on Docked Boat Motor, Lockout Tagout Procedures in Question

November 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Bainbridge Island, WA:  A massive charge of electricity accidentally entered a motor under maintenance on board the M/V Walla Walla on Sunday while the vessel was docked at the Washington State Ferries (WSF) maintenance facility on Bainbridge Island, known as Eagle Harbor.

No one was injured in the electrical accident, yet a source with detailed knowledge of the event told the KING 5 Investigators that people could have easily died.

“In all my years in the maritime industry I’ve never seen anything like this. It sent chills up my spine because of the potential to kill somebody. I can’t put enough emphasis on how close they came to killing someone,” said the source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

On Friday the WA State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) announced four separate entities are investigating to get to the bottom of what happened.

“Due to the severity of the damage, the investigation has been elevated to a third party contractor, Cadick Corporation. They will be assisted by WSDOT ferries division’s senior port engineers, safety systems managers, and electrical engineers. WSDOT has also reached out to the Department of Labor and Industries and the U.S. Coast Guard for assistance to ensure that all employee safety requirements were met. Detailed results of the investigation are expected within two to three weeks,” said Marta Coursey, Washington State Ferries Director of Communications.

The accident caused huge chunks of steel and copper to melt, as well as holes to be blasted through what is known as the commutator portion of the motor. A commutator provides the power to turn the shaft and propellers that ultimately move the ferry.

“It looks like it exploded,” said the source. “It has chunks blown out that look like someone took an ice cream scoop and scooped it out.”

Ferries officials issued a press release on Friday saying initial findings show no actual explosion occured.

“Immediately following the incident, the Washington State Department of Transportation Ferries Division started an internal investigation per standard protocol. Preliminary findings indicate that there was no explosion,” said Coursey.

“This is a serious incident and we’re going to do a very thorough and detailed investigation into what happened,” said David Moseley, WSDOT assistant secretary, ferries division. “We hope to return the vessel to service as soon as possible.”

WSF is working with General Electric to ascertain if a spare drive motor owned by the ferry system which is currently stored in a warehouse. If testing shows that part can be used, sources tell KING the Walla Walla would most likely be out of service for four to six additional months. If a new commutator has to be built by General Electric, the Walla Walla could be out of service for up to two years.

The vessel is part of the Jumbo Class of boats and is one of the largest in the fleet. It has been out of service for several months while undergoing maintenance, including a new paint job, at Vigor Industrial Shipyard in Everett. After the stint at Todd, the boat was towed to Eagle Harbor for additional procedures before going back into service. One of the jobs was to clean out the commutators due to excess paint, or “overspray,” which accidentally entered into the machinery.

That’s when things went dangerously wrong. According to two sources most likely human error is to blame. KING 5 has learned this type of unexpected release of hazardous electricity would not happen if employees performing the maintenance would have employed the legally mandated safety procedures to prevent an electrical explosion or electrocution.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has termed the procedure “Lockout/Tagout.” When work is being performed in an electrical environment such as that, Lockout/Tagout procedures ensure the machinery is turned off and disconnected from its energy source. A padlock is used to make sure the power cannot be turned back on. Experts say the process takes about five minutes.

Ferry managers would not confirm nor deny that proper safety protocols were not in place prior to the event.

“On Sunday, November 4, the propulsion drive motor on the Walla Walla failed.  This failure left the vessel inoperable until the propulsion drive motor or its components can either be repaired or replaced.  We are conducting a full investigation into the incident and probable causes per standard WSF protocol.  We are also working with the manufacturer to trouble-shoot the problem,” said Coursey.

The motor that was left in an unsecured state is located in what is called Motor Room #1 of the Walla Walla. Sources told us that on Sunday an employee on the other end of the boat turned the power on inside Motor Room #2. That would be okay if proper safety steps had been taken. Instead, massive amounts of electricity traveled across the boat from Motor Room #2 to Motor Room #1. That caused the commutator to overheat, portions of it to melt, and pieces of it to pop out. Fortunately no one was working inside the unsecured Motor Room #1 drive motor.

According to OSHA the event could have had catastrophic results.  “Employees can be seriously or fatally injured if machinery they service or maintain unexpectedly energizes, starts up, or releases stored energy. OSHA’s standard on the Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout)…spells out the steps employers must take to prevent accidents associated with hazardous energy,” wrote OSHA Assistant Secretary John Henshaw, in a memo outlining the Lockout/Tagout requirements.

The Walla Walla is a relief boat in the system. It can carry 2,000 passengers and 188 vehicles. It typically sails on the Seattle/Bremerton run or the Edmonds/Kingston run.

Ferry managers said they are working to get the boat back to work and that service will hopefully not be interrupted..

“Our current estimates are that the vessel will be out of service for the next few months while crews work to repair the issue.  There will be vessel moves throughout the system as we work to keep service levels maintained and we are working to return the Walla Walla to service as soon as possible,” said Coursey.

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OH: Lockout/Tagout Fines for TFO Tech Co. LTD; $51,000

November 8, 2012 Leave a comment

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ohio — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safetyand Health Administration has cited TFO Tech Co. Ltd with 13 safety violations at the company’s auto parts manufacturing facility in Jeffersonville. The violations include a lack of machine guarding and allowing workers to perform maintenance on machinery without first isolating the equipment’s energy source. OSHA opened an inspection in July under the agency’s National Emphasis Program on Amputations after receiving a complaint alleging hazards. Proposed fines total $51,000.

‘TFO Tech has a responsibility to ensure that employees are properly protected from known workplace hazards – such as machinery becoming unintentionally energized during maintenance – that can result in amputations and other serious injuries,’ said Bill Wilkerson, OSHA’s area director in Cincinnati. ‘OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so.’

Twelve serious violations involve a lack of guarding for the points of operation on automated mechanical forging presses, not having machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures, a damaged metal guard on a conveyor, inadequate strain relief and insulation for electrical cords, a lack of periodic inspections, unguarded floor openings, failing to train workers, and failing to lock out the energy sources of machinery during servicing and maintenance. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

One other-than-serious violation is failing to evaluate forklift operator performance at least once every three years. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

This is OSHA’s sixth inspection of the company; the last inspection was conducted in June 2003 and resulted in a citation for a serious violation involving a lack of machine guarding.

TFO Tech is based in Toyko, Japan, and employs about 140 workers at its Ohio facility. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its 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.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Cincinnati Area Office at 513-841-4132.

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 ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

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IL: Lock Out Tag Out Fines for Flex-N-Gate Corp.

November 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Urbana, IL: Flex-N-Gate Corp. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for four “serious” violations at its Guardian West plant in Urbana.

The citations, issued Tuesday, claimed the auto parts plant did not adequately protect workers from combustible dust explosion hazards or protect them from robots and conveyors that were unexpectedly energized.

The company faces $21,000 in penalties for the citations. OSHA Area Director Thomas Bielema said Flex-N-Gate has 15 working days to choose one of three possible responses:

— Accept the citations, pay the penalties and show the problems have been resolved.

— Ask for an informal conference with Bielema in hopes of settling the dispute.

— Formally appeal the citation by contesting it before a review commission magistrate.

Flex-N-Gate, through its public relations firm, issued a statement that “OSHA citations contain allegations which have not been proven, and Guardian West looks forward to providing its detailed responses to each OSHA allegation.”

The statement said, “Guardian West is a safe and responsible employer” that is serious about workplace health and safety.

It added that Guardian West invests in required protective gear, training, monitoring and specialized safety equipment.

According to one OSHA citation, seven indoor dust collectors in Guardian West’s metal polishing department lacked methods of protection from explosions and burning. The collectors handle dust generated from a metal polishing process.

The other three citations involve robots and conveyors being unexpectedly energized while people were maintaining or servicing them. Those citations allege:

— The company didn’t have procedures in place for controlling hazardous energy, such as a robot that was suddenly energized while workers were cleaning or changing the welding tips.

— Energy-isolating devices weren’t located so they could isolate equipment from its energy source.

— Energy-isolating devices didn’t have lockout or tag-out devices affixed to them.

The company has until Nov. 6 to abate the robot and conveyor problems and until Dec. 13 to abate the dust collector problem.

Guardian West, at 601 Guardian Drive, U, was cited for nine violations in June for failing to monitor workers’ exposure to nickel, chromium, hydrochloric and sulfuric acid following a December 2011 inspection. A total of $57,000 in fines were proposed for those violations.

According to the United Auto Workers, employees at several Flex-N-Gate plants are trying to form a union with the UAW, which represents workers at six company facilities in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Ontario.

“We are optimistic that Flex-N-Gate plant managers will see the OSHA citations as a wake-up call,” said Cindy Estrada, a UAW vice president who is also director of the union’s parts and suppliers department.

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