Newsletter for March - April
DOES FEDERAL OSHA CITE EMPLOYERS EQUALLY?
Answer: NO, the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration does not cite employers equally. If you view their website located at these two places that is located on the OSHA website, you will see that in many ways OSHA picks on smaller employers and levies higher penalties while big well-known companies that the federal government gives large government contracts in the millions of dollars for their products get away with either no penalties or very low penalties for the same hazardous conditions.
When these big companies contest these serious violations (Serious violation means someone could be seriously injured or killed) federal OSHA either reduces the citation fees or drops the citation all together even though federal OSHA goes into the same employers’ facilities that are located elsewhere. Did OSHA do right by this? No, they should cite the employer willful since the employer is not fixing these same hazards in other facilities.
Does this seem fair to you? Even the Senate had a hearing and wrote a document on these major company violators but the government still grants them millions of dollars in contracts while all along the government knows that these companies still violate the law and seriously injure or even kill their workers. If you would like to see that report contact me and I will send it to you.
The two places where you should always want to look are:
Establishment Data Search: https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/establishment.html and
OSHA News Releases: https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases
These two areas are where OSHA post their information and most employers and workers never look or read the OSHA websites. In many cases you will see that OSHA cited a small employer hundreds of thousands of dollars for the same type of hazards that they found in large size employers who also get government contracts in the low $10000.00 range. Most of the time OSHA inspects these large employers and never finds one little hazard. To be honest with you, this is impossible if OSHA was doing their job.
For example, these were found on the OSHA website which is the public domain and this information is open to the public for viewing. So, our news publication is not signaling out any specific employer and these are just some of the many that we could choose from. Also click on some of the links and read about National Emphasis programs and especially how federal OSHA specifically wants employers to correct Lockout & Tagout issues. But yet why should an employer do anything, since federal OSHA will probably drop the citations. Here are some good examples.
First example: PICAYUNE, MS – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Heritage Plastics Inc. for exposing employees to amputations at the company’s facility in Picayune, Mississippi. The plastics manufacturer faces $159,118 in penalties, including a willful violation that carries the maximum penalty allowed.
An employee suffered the amputation of four fingers when the mixing machine from which the employee was removing material unexpectedly started. OSHA inspectors determined that Heritage Plastics failed to require the use of a lockout device and train employees on procedures to control the release of hazardous energy. OSHA also cited the employer for failing to install machine guarding. The inspection is part of OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Amputations.”
“Proper safety procedures, including the effective lockout of all sources of energy, could have prevented this employee’s serious injury,” said OSHA Jackson Area Office Director Courtney Bohannon. “Employers must take proactive steps to develop and implement energy control procedures to minimize risk to their employees.”
Second Example: NORWALK, OH – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited American Excelsior Company – based in Norwalk, Ohio – for machine guarding hazards after an employee required hospitalization when he suffered a crushed arm. Proposed penalties total $213,411.00
OSHA investigators determined that the employee sustained injuries when the machine began operating while he removed product build-up. OSHA cited the company, which manufactures biodegradable erosion control blankets, for failing to develop or implement energy control procedures to prevent unintentional machine start-up during maintenance, and train employees in energy control procedures. American Excelsior Company received citations for similar violations at its Rice Lake, Wisconsin, plant in 2017. OSHA has also placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. "This employer failed to implement safety procedures to prevent known hazards," said OSHA Toledo Area Office Director Kimberly Nelson. "This injury could have been avoided if machine locking devices had been installed."
You can read this policy at this location, you may be surprised that your own company may fit under this OSHA directive: https://www.osha.gov/enforcement/directives/cpl-02-00-149
This next example which is also posted on the OSHA website and is in the public domain for viewing was the Nestle Corporation Bloomington, Illinois who had over 265 machines that were not guarded and the employer did not follow proper lockout and tagout and OSHA procedures was cited for only $20,000.00 total for both of these issues. This same company stated in written documents that they averaged 33 irreversible injuries and one fatality to machinery that was not properly guarded. Sound fair to you? I think not. By the way, federal OSHA dropped the lockout / tagout citation on the Bloomington Illinois Nestle plant and then cited Nestle again in another plant for the same hazards and the penalties were different. By the way federal OSHA only said two employees were exposed to these 265 unguarded machines. How they came up with that figure of only two employees being exposed I will never know since my team of consultants were the ones who inspected that facility. Region 5 OSHA really dropped the ball on this one
A couple of more for you to think about if your machines are not properly safeguarded.
April 3, 2019
U.S. Department of Labor Cites Remington Arms for 27 Safety and Health Violations after Amputation at New York Manufacturing Plant
SYRACUSE, NY – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Remington Arms Company LLC – based in Madison, North Carolina – for 27 violations of workplace safety and health standards after an employee’s fingertip was amputated while working on a broaching machine at its Ilion, New York, manufacturing plant. The arms manufacturer faces $210,132 in penalties.
OSHA inspectors found numerous safety violations, including lack of machine guarding and exposures to electrical, chemical, ladder, tripping, crushing, and struck-by hazards. The company was also cited for several health violations, including failing to conduct atmospheric testing in confined spaces, monitor lead exposure levels, implement a hearing conservation program, provide first-aid training and appropriate protective clothing for employees working with corrosive chemicals, protect employees from exposure to cadmium, and label hazardous chemicals containers.
"The violations identified exposed employees to serious and potentially life-threatening injuries," said OSHA Syracuse Area Director Jeffrey Prebish. "Employers can minimize workplace dangers by conducting required job hazard analyses."
This is the same OSHA that let the big company Nestle off the hook and a company that has the same willful type hazards and have higher amputation rates then these other companies.
March 21, 2019
U.S. Department of Labor Proposes $1,326,367 Penalty after Ohio Company Willfully Exposes Employees to Dangerous Hazards
BOWLING GREEN, OH – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed penalties of $1,326,367 to Dowa THT America Inc. – a metal heat treatment company based in Bowling Green, Ohio – after the company exposed employees to atmospheric, thermal, electrical, and mechanical hazards as they performed maintenance inside heat-treating furnaces. In addition to the penalties, OSHA placed the company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
OSHA cited the company for 25 willful, serious, and other-than-serious violations for hazards related to confined spaces, falls, machine guarding, respiratory protection, chemical exposures, and electrical equipment. The company also failed to provide adequate personal protective equipment, and train their employees on hazards in the facility.
“The violations identified exposed employees to serious, and potentially life-threatening injuries and illnesses,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “Employers have a legal obligation to assess their workplaces for hazards, and establish appropriate safety and health programs to protect their workers.”
So, in closing for this months Safety Solutions, we just wanted you to know as our readers that OSHA does not treat employers fairly. And as you know, I use to work for federal OSHA as a compliance officer so I can tell you this. Machine guarding and Lockout and Tagout is high on their list of citations but federal OSHA does not treat all employers the same nor do they follow their own OSHA policies and OSHA directives.
If I can be of any help to you or your company, please write to me or call me and we can help you. Do not take the chance if your machinery is not safeguarded. You do not know unless if you have hazards unless you have an audit or your machines and you need to train your employees in the equipment’s operators manuals as well, Also, please read the OSHA website daily, you will learn a lot. I am not picking on OSHA and I do believe in their only mission and that is to protect the worker from being injured. I just wish that they would do that.
John F. (Jack) Podojil President / CEO
Podojil & associates, Inc.