Region 1 News Release: BOS 98-195
Thursday, October 15, 1998
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald, (617) 565-2074
OSHA CITES HUDSON, NEW HAMPSHIRE, EMPLOYER FOR ALLEGED WILLFUL AND SERIOUS SAFETY VIOLATIONS FOLLOWING FATAL FORKLIFT TRUCK ACCIDENT
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Labor Department has cited FWM, Inc., of Hudson, New Hampshire, for alleged Willful and Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following a fatal accident at the company's former plant in Salem, N.H., and has proposed penalties totaling $140,000.
According to David May, OSHA area director for New Hampshire, OSHA initiated its inspection on June 23, 1998, after learning of a fatality which occurred the day before in the company's outside storage and materials handling area.
A FWM, Inc. forklift truck that had been left unattended by its operator rolled down an incline, pinning and crushing a truck driver employed by Guy Heavener, Inc., of Allentown, Penn., between the forklift and the side of a flatbed trailer.
"OSHA's inspection found that the fork truck had been left parked and unattended on an incline without its wheels having first been blocked to prevent its rolling, that it had a defective parking brake and rear wheel and should not have been in service to begin with, and that daily inspections of the fork truck, which would have identified and prompted the correction of such hazards, had not been conducted as required," said May. "In addition, employees who operated the fork truck were exposed to crushing hazards in the event of a tipover due to their failure to use installed seatbelts."
May explained that the considerable size of the fine proposed in this case stems from the categorization of three of the four citations as Willful, the most severe category of OSHA citation. OSHA issues such citations only when it believes, based on the information gathered in its inspection, that the employer knew what safeguards were necessary to protect workers yet apparently elected not to provide them.
"This employer is well aware of OSHA standards governing the safe maintenance and use of forklift trucks including the need for daily inspections, removing defective trucks from service for repairs, and never leaving a fork truck unattended, particularly on an incline, without first blocking its wheels to prevent unintended movement," he said. "Had these basic, simple safeguards been met, this accident could well have been avoided."
May noted that though the deceased worker was an employee of another company, the fork truck was owned and operated by FWM, Inc., and all four citations address hazards to which FWM employees were exposed.
FWM, Inc., is a welding and machine shop which manufactures cryogenic heat exchangers. It employs about 29 workers at its plant which is located at 11 Friars Drive in Hudson (At the time of the accident, FWM, Inc. was located in Salem; it subsequently moved to the Hudson location).
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Specifically, the citations and total proposed penalties of $140,000 encompass:
Three alleged willful violations, with $136,500 in proposed penalties, for:
a forklift truck was left parked and unattended on an incline without its wheels being blocked to prevent movement;
a forklift truck with a defective parking brake and defective right rear tire was not withdrawn from service for repairs;
failure to ensure that forklift trucks were inspected daily before use.
One alleged Serious violation, with a proposed penalty of $3,500, for:
failure to provide a place of employment free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm in that employees operating forklift trucks were exposed to crushing hazards by not wearing installed seat belts.
May urged Granite State employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Concord and added that OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline --1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742)-- may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.
A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
A serious violation is defined as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.