Posts Tagged ‘Severe Violator Enforcement Program’

OSHA: Fines Totaling $228,900 – Logout Tagout Included

March 12, 2013 Leave a comment

OSHA has cited a facility that produces retail frozen pizzas, retail dressings and sauces, and food service dressings and sauces with 27 health and safety violations, including two repeat, for inadequate hazardous energy control procedures after an August 2012 inspection at the company’s facility was opened under OSHA’s Site Specific Targeting Program for industries with high injury and illness rates. Proposed fines total $228,900.  Because of the hazards and the violations cited, the company has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  The two repeat violations were cited for failing to control hazardous energy, including conducting periodic inspections of energy control procedures and providing required information on written energy control procedures, such as specific rules and techniques, as well as testing requirements to determine the effectiveness of the energy control procedures. A total of 24 serious safety and health violations were cited for failing to guard machines, monitor noise exposure levels, train workers on emergency response and hazardous chemicals, provide permit confined space requirements and provide lockout/tagout procedures for the control of hazardous energy. Violations were also cited for OSHA’s process safety management standard, including failing to document inspections, tests and system designs.  An other-than-serious violation was cited for failing to annually certify process safety management standard operating procedures. Here is a breakdown of the citations…

Fixed Stairs

  • 1910.24(b) – fixed industrial stairs were not provided for access to the roof for daily inspections and routine maintenance of ammonia refrigeration equipment (See my 2012 article discussing access/egress from rooftop refrigeration equipment); Serious; $7K

Process Safety Information

  • 1910.119(d)(3)(i)(D) – no relief system design and design basis for the ammonia refrigeration system in regards to the header and vent lines, oil pots, and HPR and LPR. Serious; $5,500
  • 1910.119(d)(3)(i)(E) – no ventilation design basis for two (2) engine rooms. Serious; $5,500
  • 1910.119(d)(3)(ii) – no documentation that the equipment complies with RAGAGEP(s): 1) a PSV from engine room #2 discharged at a working platform on a condenser, 2) PSVs were not replaced every five (5) years, nor was there an alternative replacement frequency based on in-service RV life. Serious; $5,500

Process Hazards Analysis

  • 1910.119(e)(5) – no system established to promptly address recommendations from a 2009 PHA which included: 1) develop policy/procedure for addressing RVs every five (5) years, 2) developing a policy/procedure for documentation of PM inspections/tests, 3) ensure RVs are relieving to safe locations, 4) address additional roof access and egress. Serious; $5,500

Operating Procedures

  • 1910.119(f)(1)(i)(B) – No SOP for draining oil from oil pots. Serious; $5,500

Mechanical Integrity

  • 1910.119(j)(2) – No written MI procedures for: 1) inspection of uninsulated NH3 piping, 2) corrosion under insulation inspections for NH3 piping, 3) testing of all safety cutouts on the compressors, 4) interior inspection of reciprocating compressors. Serious; $5,500
  • 1910.119(j)(4)(iv) – No documentation for each inspection/test that had been performed on NH3 system including: 1) testing of high pressure cutouts on recip compressors, 2) testing of high temp cutouts on recip compressors, 3) annual interior inspection of recip compressors. Serious; $5,500

3-year Audits

  • 1910.119(o)(1) – no 3- year audit done. Serious; $5,500

Emergency Response

  • 1910.120(q)(2) – the ERP did not address a response to Nitrogen. Serious; $7K

PPE (Fall Protection)

  • 1910.132(a) – no fall protection for workers were 20′ climbing the frame work while unjamming conveyors in spiral freezers. Serious; $7K

Permit Required Confined Spaces (Spiral Freezers)

  • 1910.146(c)(1) – No confined space evaluation on spiral freezers. Serious; $7K
  • 1910.146(c)(4) – No Confined Space entry procedures for the spiral freezers. Serious; $7K
  • 1910.146(d)(3)(iii) – no isolation procedures and practices necessary to isolate the spiral freezers from the Nitrogen system and mechanical hazards of the conveyor chains. Serious; $7K
  • 1910.146(d)(3)(iv) – No procedures for ventilation of Nitrogen inside the spiral freezers. Serious; $7K
  • 1910.146(d)(3)(vi) – No procedures to verify that conditions in the spiral freezers were acceptable for entry throughout the duration of an authorized entry. Serious; $0
  • 1910.146(d)(4)(i) – Employer did not maintain the hand-held oxygen meter properly and did not ensure that employees used the equipment properly when entering PRCS’s. Serious; $0
  • 1910.146(d)(5) – Employer did not evaluate the atmosphere prior to and during entry into the spiral freezers when entry operations were conducted. Serious; $0
  • 1910.146(d)(4)(vii) – employer did not provide equipment for safe ingress or egress by entrants into spiral freezers. Serious; $5,500
  • 1910.146(d)(9) – no procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services for rescuing entrants from PRCSs, for providing necessary emergency services to rescued employees and for preventing unauthorized personnel from attempting rescue in spiral freezers. Serious; $7K
  • 1910.146(e)(1) – Entry permits were not issued for entry by sanitation and maintenance employees into the spiral freezers. Serious; $7K
  • 1910.146(g)(1) – no training for employees whose work required entry into spiral freezers. Serious; $7K


  • 1910.147(d)(3) – employer did not operate all energy isolating devices needed to control the energy to equipment, specifically electrical circuit breakers for conveyor chains for two spiral freezers. Serious; $0
  • 1910.147(d)(4)(i) – LOTO devices were not affixed to each energy isolating device by authorized employees. Serious; $0
  • 1910.147(c)(4)(ii) – LOTO procedures did not contain: 1) specific procedural steps for shutting down, isolating, blocking and securing machines or equipment to control hazardous energy; 2) specific requirement for testing a machine or equipment to determine and verify the effectiveness of LOTO devices and other energy control measures. REPEAT; $38,500
  • 1910.147(c)(6)(i) – no periodic inspection of energy control procedures at least annually. REPEAT; $38,500
  • 1910.119(f)(3) – SOPs not annually certified. Other-than-Serious; $0

Fire Extinguishers

  • 1910.157(g)(4) – employees designated to use firefighting equipment as part of the EAP were not provided training in the use of appropriate equipment upon initial assignment and annually thereafter. Serious; $4,400

Machine Guarding

  • 1910.212(a)(1) – pepperoni slicer not guarded. Serious; $7K


  • 1910.1200(h)(1) – no training on Nitrogen hazards. Serious; $7K

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OH: OSHA Fines Mahle Engine Components USA Inc $369,000

McConnelsville, Ohio:  The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Mahle Engine Components USA Inc. with 26 health and safety violations, including eight repeat, for exposing workers to electrical, lead, and machine guarding hazards at its automotive parts manufacturing facility in McConnelsville, Ohio. The proposed fines total $369,000.

Two repeat health violations were cited for lead exposure, including failing to record employees’ blood lead levels to monitor exposure to lead, and test the cleanroom for lead contamination. Lead can cause damage to the nervous system and other organs if inhaled or ingested in dangerous quantities. Six repeat safety violations were cited for failing to mount and identify fire extinguishers, provide machine guarding, ensure safe work practices when exposed to electrical hazards, ground pins from electrical equipment, and train workers on recognizing electrical hazards.

“Employers cited for multiple safety and health violations have a responsibility to review their safety and health procedures, evaluate the hazards that exist and train workers to ensure a safe and healthful working environment,” says Nick Walters, OSHA’s regional director in Chicago. “When an employer, such as Mahle, is cited for repeat violations, it shows a lack of commitment to protecting the safety and health of workers. OSHA will not tolerate such negligence.”

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. Mahle Engine Components USA was previously cited for these violations during inspections in 2009 and 2011 at the McConnelsville location as well as at facilities in Manchester, Mo., and Trumbull, Conn.

A total of 18 serious violations were cited for lack of machine guarding; improper storage of acetylene and oxygen cylinders; electrical hazards; lack of load ratings on hook lifting devices; allowing operators to carry loads traveling over people creating a struck-by hazard; improper storage of respirators; failing to provide appropriate personal protective equipment and require its use; and keep the tables in the lunch room clean and free of lead accumulation. 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.

Because of the hazards and the violations cited, Mahle Engine Components has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. OSHA’s SVEP focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer’s facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.

The company, headquartered in Morristown, Tenn., has operated the McConnelsville facility since 2008 and is a subsidiary of the Mahle Group, which employees about 50,000 workers and operates about 100 production plants worldwide. Inspected in 2009 and 2010, the McConnelsville facility has been cited with a total of 17 violations.

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.

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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.

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Verizon Makes Notorious OSHA SVEP List with Worker Electrocution

September 5, 2012 Leave a comment

The Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) was created by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 2010 with a promise of getting tough on employers who have not honored their employee’s safety and health and OSHA’s direction.

By all indications the SVEP is doing just that.

As of this June, OSHA reported that 332 of the nation’s employers have found their way onto OSHA’s SVEP list. SVEP concentrates on inspecting employers that have demonstrated indifference to their Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) obligations by willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate workplace violations. Employers that have been identified as severe violators can expect heightened inspection rates and increased fines when additional occupational safety and health violations occur.

Some of the nation’s largest corporations, such as Verizon, Tyson Foods, Wegman’s and Cooper Tire & Rubber, all have the dishonor of being a members of this exclusive club. On March 19, Verizon became a member of SVEP after a worker came into contact with high-voltage electrical wires in Brooklyn, New York. OSHA says that this electrocution was preventable.

During OSHA’s investigation (#315915249), the agency cited Verizon with repeat offenses, such as failure to provide personal protective equipment like rubber gloves for workers exposed to high voltage. Verizon was also not providing employees with electrial safety training or safe practices for working around high voltage power lines. In addition, Verizon was not keeping accurate occupational safety and health records, and it appears that Verizon was cooking the books by reporting a fatality as an injury on OSHA Form 300.

Consistent violators of the OSH Act belong in a program such as the SVEP, as their own fraudulent actions have won them this special recognition. Workers in the United States should not have to tolerate such inappropriate activity from their employers, and the SVEP shines light on industries’ bad actors.

It is also important to point out the external effect SVEP will have on employers when they learn the details of the program. Increased fines and targeted inspections could scare industry straight into upholding its obligations under the OSH Act. We hope they are paying attention.

Unfortunately, OSHA is now offering habitual offenders of the OSH Act a pathway out of the SVEP. According to OSHA, an employer may be considered for removal from the program by an OSHA Regional Administrator after:

  • A period of three years from the date of the final disposition of the SVEP inspection citation items including: failure to contest, settlement agreement, Review Commission final order, or court of appeals decision.
  • All affirmed violations have been abated, all final penalties have been paid, and the employer has abided by and completed all settlement provisions, and has not received any additional serious citations related to the hazards identified in the SVEP inspection at the initial establishment or at any related establishments.

The SVEP program has been a step in the right direction, and will hold habitual violators like Verizon accountable to the OSH Act, at least for three years. Three years on the SVEP list, however, is not enough, even with the programs increased fines and oversight. Employers should have to recommit themselves to training employees best practices and demonstrate comprehensive plans of action to mitigate potential hazards at the very least. A bold step for OSHA would be to pursue SVEP participants in criminal court.

Changing employers’ attitudes regarding occupational safety and health has been a constant battle in the United States. OSHA has been engaged in this fight for more than 40 years. One would hope that employers someday will realize that workers are more productive under safe working conditions, and programs like SVEP will not be necessary. But for now, OSHA should keep bad actors on the list.

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