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Posts Tagged ‘Dr. David Michaels’

Wisconsin: OSHA Fines near $500,000 for Highway Technologies Inc.

Wisconsin: On Sept. 17, 2012, a worker employed by Highway Technologies Inc. was fatally injured while working with equipment that came into contact with overhead power lines during highway work in western Wisconsin. OSHA issued 10 safety violations with proposed penalties totaling $448,000 and placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

Highway Technologies Inc. was performing guardrail and sign installation for a 13-mile stretch of I-94 near Menomonie, Wis., under contract with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation when the incident occurred.

“Highway Technologies failed to protect its workers from serious electrocution hazards,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Multiple instances of the same violation over a period of time clearly demonstrate a willful failure to comply with basic safety and health standards. Employers must take steps to eliminate hazards and provide a safe working environment.”

OSHA issued citations for six willful violations of failing to ensure that parts of the equipment being operated were not within 10 feet of a power line, exposing workers to electrical shock and electrocution hazards. These citations also include instances of failing to ensure that any part of the machinery was not within 6 feet of an overhead power line while the machinery was traveling beneath the power lines.

Four serious violations also cited include failing to identify electrical work zones, determine if any part of the equipment being operated would be closer than 20 feet of a power line, train each worker on safe clearance distances from power lines and evaluate that each employee understood the training and risks of working near overhead power lines.

Due to the nature of the hazards and the violations cited, Highway Technologies Inc. has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure future compliance with the law. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer’s facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.

Houston-based Highway Technologies Inc. employs about 1,500 workers in 13 states installing highway guardrails, crash attenuators, barrier walls and signage. Prior to this investigation, the company had been inspected by OSHA 10 times since 2007, resulting in citations for nine serious violations. One of these inspections was initiated based on employee injuries sustained from contacting an overhead power line while installing a highway sign.

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.

Story via ehstoday.com

 

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LA: Seafood company hit with $248,000 in fines and back/lost wages

Breaux Bridge, LA: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on July 24 issued findings from investigations of C.J.’s Seafood Inc. in Breaux Bridge, La. OSHA cited C.J.’s Seafood, a former Wal-Mart supplier, with 11 serious and one other-than-serious safety violation for exposing workers to blocked exit, fire, electrical and chemical hazards. Additionally, the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division found that the company failed to pay minimum wage and overtime compensation to 73 workers as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and to comply with provisions of the H-2B temporary foreign worker visa program established under the Immigration and Nationality Act.   OSHA proposes more than $34,000 in fines for C.J.’s Seafood of Breaux Bridge, La., for exposing workers to workplace hazards. The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is seeking nearly $214,000 in back wages and penalties.

“It is imperative that employers comply with applicable laws that protect the health and safety of their workers,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Every worker deserves to go home safe at the end of a workday, and the employees at C.J.’s Seafood are entitled to nothing less.”

OSHA’s Baton Rouge Area Office conducted an investigation of the company’s facility in Breaux Bridge, where employees peel and boil seafood. Some of the serious violations cited pertain to the building not being equipped with fire extinguishers, exit signs or emergency eyewash stations. In addition, electrical breakers were not labeled, electrical outlets were not covered, an exit was blocked and temporary wiring was being used instead of permanent wiring. Finally, the employer did not have a written hazard communications program and did not make material safety data sheets available to employees to inform them of hazards in the workplace. These citations carry proposed penalties of $32,200. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The other-than-serious violation involves failing to maintain the OSHA 300 log, in which employee injuries and illnesses must be recorded. This citation carries a monetary penalty of $2,100. 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.

C.J.’s Seafood has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s Baton Rouge area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Story via ehstoday.com