For OSHA Construction and General Industry

Scaffolding Collapse Investigation Leads to Citation in Florida

Scaffolding collapse leads to large fine by OSHAOn November 15, 2016, the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations to Florida-based Flacks Painting and Waterproofing Inc., for numerous violations related to a scaffolding collapse at a Lauderdale-By-The-Sea worksite. The collapse resulted in neck and back injuries to the 48-year-old worker who was utilizing the scaffolding while replacing existing balconies.

The incident took place when the aforementioned employee was working from a balcony. The balcony collapsed and the worker fell eighteen feet to the ground. Following two separate inspections, OSHA determined that (1) willful, (4) serious, (2) other-than-serious safety and health violations existed. The proposed penalty for these violations is, $89,793.

 

 

 

The following violations were determined to have existed in the scaffolding collapse:

  • Failure to ensure the walking and working surface was strong enough to support workers
  • Failure to ensure the scaffold was fully planked
  • Failure to ensure adequate support of the scaffold’s poles, legs, post and frames
  • Failure to provide three-tier scaffolds with guardrail system
  • Failure to ensure a fall protectionsystem was in place
  • Failure to develop and implement a respiratory protection program
  • Failure to develop and implement a written hazard communication program

OSHA Ft. Lauderdale area director, Ondell Eastmond, said, “This incident was preventable. Had Flacks Painting & Waterproofing provided adequate shoring for the balcony, the worker would not have fallen and suffered serious injuries. Employers must ensure workers are protected at all times and when safety issues are bought to management’s attention, swift and corrective action must be taken.”

Fall-related injuries, including those related to scaffolding collapse,  are among the most common in the construction and roofing industries, as they both feature worksites which often require employees to work at heights. One resource that safety leaders can utilize to ensure fall-protection and safety hazard compliance is an OSHA-approved online training course. Fall hazards, though relatively simple to remedy, can result in serious injury or, in some cases, death.

 

Fall Protection Training Lacking Leading to Citations

Fall Protection Training Saves Lives in Construction JobsOn November 4, 2016, the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations to Ohio-based Roofing company, A&W Roofing, for multiple fall protection training related violations found at a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania facility. The citations included (3) willful and (2) serious violations. The proposed penalty for these violations is, $307,824.

OSHA initiated an inspection on May 13, 2016, following an anonymous complaint that company employees were not utilizing fall protection. A&W Roofing was cited in 2014, 2015, and 2016 for similar offenses, which caused increases in fines. The inspection was part of the agency’s local emphasis program focused on fall hazards in the construction industry.

Among others, OSHA determined that the following violations were existent:

  • Failure to provide adequate fall protection to employees working 35 to 40 feet above the ground
  • Failure to mandate that ground workers wear hardhats
  • Failure to properly install extended ladders
  • Failure to implement a fall protection training and education program

OSHA Pittsburgh area director, Christopher Robinson, said, “A&W Roofing continues to disregard OSHA standards intended to prevent injuries and save lives in the high-hazard construction industry. This is the fifth time in two years this company has been cited and penalized by OSHA for exposing workers to fall hazards. A&W Roofing’s blatant disregard for worker safety is intolerable and completely unacceptable.”

Among the various workplace safety violations, those related to falls or inadequate programming or protection are some of the most common. Many of the violations related to fall hazards and fall protection training are easily remedied. One resource that may be useful to safety leaders and employers in the general or construction industries is an OSHA-approved training course or on-site inspection. More often than not, most fall hazards or safety non-compliance violations are simply the result of a lack of adequate training or precaution.

 

Machine Safety Procedures Absent in Employee Death

Machine safety procedures with proper training can save lives.Machine safety procedures were cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration in its inssued citations to Illinois-based steel-processing company, Coilplus Illinois Inc., for six serious safety and health violations, stemming from the June 23rd, 2016 death of a 50-year-old employee at a Plainfield-facility. The OSHA-proposed penalty for these violations is $53,628

The incident took place when the aforementioned employee was removing scrap metal from a scrap pit. The employee was standing on a pneumatic platform while working and accidentally caught the pneumatic line and disconnected it, causing the platform to return to its vertical positioning, leaving the employee to fall into the pit. When in the pit, the metal trim entangled the man and he was pulled through the metal-balling mechanism, below, resulting in his death. Numerous absences of machine safety procedures were called out.

OSHA found the following violations, upon their inspection:

  • Failure to evaluate for permit-required confined spaces or post adequate warning signage
  • Failure to install handrails on stairways
  • Failure to inspect machine safety procedures
  • Failure to install and incorporate lockout devices for machinery/equipment
  • Failure to incorporate adequate guarding to eliminate fall-hazards around machinery
  • Failure to incorporate handrails around the scrap pit area, exposing workers to a 9-foot fall

Kathy Webb, OSHA Calument City area director, said, “A man died, tragically, and his family, friends, and co-workers are left to suffer an overwhelming loss. Coilplus needs to make immediate changes to its safety and health programs to ensure workers are guarded from machine hazards at its facilities, nationwide.”

Many of the potential injuries that employees dealing with large machinery can possibly sustain are life-threatening. Furthermore, several steps in machine safety procedures can often be taken to ensure that fatal accidents do not occur in the workplace. In the case of the accident listed, here, adequate handrails, guarding, and lockout devices would have made the difference between life and death. It is incumbent upon the safety-leader to utilize those resources available, such as an OSHA-approved training course or on-site inspection, to mitigate such a disaster.

 

Carbon Monoxide Exposure Leads to OSHA Citations

Carbon monoxide Exposure leads to OSHA ViolationsCarbon Monoxide Exposure was the primary target of an October 19th, 2016, OSHA investigation in which it issued citations for 4 willful and 9 serious violations to Poynette-based A&A Environmental Services Inc. These citations stemmed from an April 2016 incident, where five A&A employees fell ill, following their renovation of a New Glarus, Wisconsin nursing home. The determination was made that the illness was due to carbon monoxide exposure. The proposed penalty for these violations is $243,716.

As a result of the carbon monoxide exposure and subsequent incident where the aforementioned employees fell ill, federal safety inspectors responded to the New Glarus renovation worksite and conducted an inspection of the premises. In addition to identifying a failure to properly monitor carbon monoxide exposure, the inspectors also uncovered asbestos and determined that a secondary danger of contamination was present. OSHA found that the workers were exposed to unsafe levels of asbestos and that the company was in violation of the control system to contain asbestos-rich areas.
OSHA found that A&A failed to:

• Provide a separate room for all asbestos-containment equipment
• Provide a de-contaminations room/area for workers
• Institute a no-drinks/food rule in an asbestos workplace
• Properly monitor the worksite for carbon-monoxide contamination
• Institute an educational program for employees, as to the risks of asbestos
• Conduct a smoke-test of the asbestos containment area
• Incorporate ground-fault circuit equipment in the areas were wet-method was used for asbestos removal
• Provide medical examination and fit-testing for those employees using respirators

Ann Grevenkamp, OSHA Madison area director, said, “A company like A&A Environmental Services, that specializes in asbestos abatement, should be setting the standard in employee protection while handling known carcinogenic material. No worker should ever become sick on the job or suffer long-term health issues because their employer failed to take the necessary precautions to protect them.”
Asbestos and carbon-monoxide are a common threat in environmental management and renovation or repair of older facilities. One resource that safety leaders can utilize to avoid the contamination of a worksite or, worse, the possible illness or death of any member of their workforce, is an OSHA-approved training course.

Forklift Safety Issues Cited at Alliance Ground International

Forklift safety issues were at the forefrong of a recent OSHA inspection at Alliance Ground International.
Forklift safety issues took center stage in a Sept. 8, 2016 inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.     Alliance Ground International was issued a number of citations to the cargo-handling company. The citations, nine in total, range from “willful” to “other-than-serious” in classification and were the result of a March investigation of the company’s O’Hare airport facility, prompted by an anonymous complaint. OSHA has attached a proposed penalty of $338,881 to the violations. Alliance Ground International is a major cargo-handling company and their clients include, Amerijet, Delta, Finnair, Transaero, and Virgin.

This marks the third time in three years that Alliance Ground has been found in violation, involving struck-by and electrical hazards, as well as being cited for forklift safety issues. OSHA found similar violations involving these hazards at Alliance’s Chicago facility in September of 2014 and at Alliance’s Schiller Park facility in December of 2013.



OSHA issued citations for three forklift safety issues and three other critical safety items:

  • Failure to remove damaged forklifts from service
  • Failure to inspect forklifts on a shift-by-shift basis
  • Failure to use manufacturer-recommended parts when repairing forklifts
  • Failure to maintain fully-charged fire extinguishers
  • Failure to conduct monthly fire extinguisher inspection
  • Employee exposure to open panels and exposed wiring

 

Angeline Loftus, OSHA’s Chicago North Area Director, Angeline Loftus, said, “Simply securing these portable fuel containers with clamps provided by the manufacturer will prevent workers from being exposed to containers jarring loose, slipping, or rotating, and potentially striking workers who transport goods around the clock at one the nation’s busiest airports. Airport terminals are inherently dangerous working environments and Alliance Ground International needs to re-evaluate its forklift operating procedures to ensure they are protecting workers on the job.”

OSHA-approved training courses can be a useful resource for safety leader professionals tasked with maintaining compliance within their respective companies. The cargo-handling violations which Alliance Ground was cited for, as mentioned in this article, are violations which are avoidable with proper training.

Fall Protection Systems Lacking at Sawdo Construction Sites

Fall Protection Systems can save lives on construction job sites.Citing lack of fall protection systems, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations to Florida-based construction company, Chris Sawdo Construction LLC, for four violations, including two “willful”, one “repeated”, and one “serious”, according to OSHA safety classifications. These citations came as a result of two separate OSHA inspections, at Chris Sawdo facilities in St. Augustine and St. Johns, respectively. OSHA has attached a $199,107 proposed penalty to these violations.

The OSHA inspections were conducted in accordance with the Regional Emphasis Program on Falls in Construction, an initiative enacted in October of 2015. OSHA inspectors observed employees at both of the two separate inspections sites installing roofing sheathing without any type of fall protection. Chris Sawdo Construction has been cited by OSHA six times, in the past.

“Willful” citations involved:

  • Failure to protect workers with active fall protection systems when working from heights up to 20 feet

“Repeated violation involved:

  • Failure to extend a roof access ladder above the landing surface

“Serious: citation involved:

  • Failure to set-up a roof access ladder with the proper angle

 

OSHA Jacksonville Area Director, Brian Sturtecky, said, “Chris Sawdo Construction continues to willfully ignore OSHA’s fall protection standards, despite an extensive OSHA history, being suspended as a subcontractor by homebuilders, and being in the residential construction industry for 20 years. The employer must take immediate action to eliminate putting workers at risk of serious injury or death.”

One of OSHA’s focus four target items, falls on the job site can be prevent by using compliant fall protection systems. There is no training that can undo non-compliance, especially when it is willful. However, OSHA-approved training courses are helpful for those safety leaders within their respective companies who are seeking to maintain compliance. It is highly recommended that those employers who are tasked with the safety of their workers make every effort to utilize such a resource, especially if they are in repeated violation of the same standard or regulation.

OSHA Pilot Process Improves Transparency

Pilot Process from OSHA Aims to Streamline Claims and offer TransparencyThe U.S. Department of Labor is launching a pilot process in its Western Region, which affects the manner and time frame in which claims are addressed and, subsequently, resolved. The “Expedited Case Processing Pilot” allows an individual covered by certain statutes to petition the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to cease its investigation of a given claim and issue their findings for the Department of Labor’s Office of Administrative Law Judges to consider. There are a variety of criteria which the individual would have to meet but, barring ineligibility due to a failure to meet these criteria, the pilot could, ostensibly, expedite a claim and provide further protection for the complainant and transparency in the filing process. Administrative law judges may order the same resolutions as OSHA, including back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages, where authorized, in addition to attorneys’ fees and reinstatement. The pilot process became effective Aug. 1, 2016, in the agency’s San Francisco region, which includes California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, and the islands of American Samoa, CNMI, and Guam.

According to initial guidelines regarding the pilot process, Following OSHA’s determination that the aforementioned criteria has been met, they will audit the claim to determine, based on the information gathered up to the date of the request for expedited processing, if reasonable cause exists to assert that a violation of the statute has occurred. OSHA officials will then take one of three actions:

 

  • Dismiss the claim and inform the complainant of the right to proceed before an administrative law judge
  • Issue merit findings as expeditiously as possible
  • Deny the request

The criteria for which a potential complainant would be audited, follow initial proposal of expedition, would be:

  • Claim is filed under a statute that allows for de novoreview by an administrative law judge
  • Dependent on the statute, 30 or 60 days have passed from the date upon which claim was first filed with OSHA
  • Complainant has undergone interview process with OSHA
  • Federal investigators have evaluated the individual in question and their interview, to determine if basic elements of a retaliation claim are extant
  • Both complainant and respondent have had the opportunity to submit written responses, meet with an OSHA investigator, and present statements from witnesses
  • Complainant has received a copy of the respondent’s submissions and has had an opportunity to respond

 

Barbara Goto, OSHA San Franscisco regional administrator, says, “The ultimate goal is to bring about quicker resolution for whistleblowers and their employers regarding claims of retaliation for reporting safety and other concerns on the job.”

OSHA approved training courses are a good requisite protocol for supervisors and safety officers in the manufacturing industry. Such courses address the rights of whistleblowers and outline the importance of transparency in a potentially dangerous workplace.

Amerway Safety Violations Cited in Repeat Offenses

Amerway Safety Violations Cited in repeat offender program.Amerway Safety Violations again took center stage in a recent inspection of the Pennsylvania based plant.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated an inspection on March 9, 2016, as part of the agency’s national emphasis programs for lead and primary metal industries. Amerway Inc., an industrial soldering and metal brazing manufacturer, based out of Altoona, Pennsylvania, were issued citations on July 1, 2016, for multiple violations. The Amerway safety violations include 3 repeat violations, 4 serious violations, and 1 other-than-serious violation. The repeat violations include exposing workers to unsafe levels of lead and respiratory protection failures. Amerway Inc. was cited for identical violations in October of 2011. The violations carry a penalty of $49,000.

Serious violations regard a failure to institute engineering, administrative, and work practice controls to reduce and maintain employee exposures to lead below the permissible exposure level.

The Amerway Safety violations Considered Serious included:

  • Failure to institute a medical surveillance program for employees exposed to lead above the action level for more than 30 days per year
  • Failure to include biological monitoring in the form of blood sampling and analysis for lead and zinc protoporphyrin.
  • Failure to provide a medical evaluation to employees required to utilize a tight-fitting respirator while working in a regulated area

The other-than-serious violation was due to hazardous chemical labeling deficiencies.

Christopher Robinson, director of the OSHA Pittsburgh Area Office, said, “Amerway still has not taken adequate steps to protect its workers from the debilitating medical conditions related to lead overexposure, which is inexcusable. The most effective way to minimize worker lead exposure is through engineering controls, medical surveillance, training and the use of personal protective clothing and equipment such as respirators.”

A comprehensive industry training course can assist employers in following the appointed OSHA standards and better-practice guidelines within their respective fields. To learn more about OSHA standards and business guidelines for employers, please consult OSHA’s website.

Park Stein Cited for Multiple Safety Violations

recycling-bucketOn June 3, 2016, the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations to Clifton, N.J. based recycling company, Park Stein Inc., for several egregious violations.

The citations included:

  • Lack of adequate respiratory program
  • Improper storage of compressed gas cylinders
  • Lack of proper hearing-conservation program

Along with those aforementioned citations processed by the agency, following a Dec. 4, 2016 inspection, a front-end loader used on the facility grounds was found to be improperly maintained, thereby exposing employees to potential “struck-by” hazards.

According to Lisa Levy, director of OSHA’s Hasbrouck Heights Area Office, “Park Stein’s regular use of a front-end loader that was so poorly maintained as to create a hazard to its employees reflects a willful lack of regard for the safety of employees at the facility. Inspectors documented many repeated violations at Park Stein that meet the requirements for OSHA’s Severe Violator’s Enforcement Program. The agency created the program for recalcitrant employers who demonstrate indifference to the health and safety of their employees through willful, repeated, or failure to-abate violations of the OSH Act.”

Park Stein has been cited for sixteen violations, with proposed penalties totaling $121,660. Park Stein, which operates under the business title, Parkway Iron and Metal Company Inc., was cited for nineteen violations at a proposed cost of roughly $78,000 in May 2012, following previous violations in March 2010.

Safer practices in the workplace, particularly as regards the waste industry, are of the utmost importance. It is important that those who direct facilities such as those who find themselves in violation, like recycling company, Park Stein Inc., implement safety and health programs commensurate with the industry standard. Resources for approved OSHA training in the general industry workplace are available, online, and can prove to be the difference between a violation and a workplace that is up to code.

Death of Worker at U.S. Bank Stadium Garners Serious Fines

U.S. Bank Stadium cited for negligence in death of worker.On August, 26th, 2015, at the construction site for Minneapolis’ new U.S. Bank Stadium, Jeramie Gruber fell to his death. According to a workplace official from the site, “While installing a solid roof, two roofers fell and slid down the roof. One struck a post and stopped, but was injured. The other broke through a guardrail and fell onto an elevated platform, below.” Investigation estimates assert that Gruber fell roughly fifty feet.

The results of an OSHA state-run investigation of the U.S. Bank Stadium construction site, the new home of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, managed by Mortenson Construction and subcontractor Berwald Roofing, yielded one “willful” and three “serious” violations, including a failure to provide proper fall protection on the part of Berwald Roofing and a violation of general safety and health provisions by Mortenson Construction. The identified violations and subsequent citations levied against Berwald Roofing and Mortenson Construction are $139,100 and $34,300, respectively. According to reports by the Star Tribune, Berwald Roofing have been the subject of OSHA inspections in the past and have been cited nine times, since 2010, with fines totaling more than $12,500. Mortenson Construction Senior Vice President, John Wood, said, “At Mortenson, safety is a core value, and we are committed to eliminating the risk of injury on all of our projects,”

With serious accidents like that of the U.S. Bank Stadium site, the imperative is that all standards for the safety of those employees working on-site are enacted and monitored closely. A comprehensive safety program should always be studied and implemented by those individuals in a supervisory position.

Both companies, Berwald Roofing and Mortenson Construction, have voiced their full-throated support for the investigatory processes that OSHA is undergoing in its evaluation of the site. Berwald Roofing President, Eugene Berwald, has voiced his intention to assist OSHA in “reach(ing) a final determination on its findings.”