Region 4 News Release: USDL 98-175
Friday, Oct. 23, 1998
Contact: LES GROVE, (803) 765-5904
NORTH CHARLESTON'S CAROLINA MARINE HANDLING FINED NEARLY $170,000 FOLLOWING FATAL ACCIDENT
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Carolina Marine Handling and proposed penalties totaling $169,447 for safety violations connected with a fatal accident in North Charleston.
The April 29 accident caused the death of an employee working aboard the cargo ship Ostfriesland. The worker had been unloading cargo when an aluminum T-bar fell out of a lifting sling and crushed him.
"Marine cargo handling is dangerous work, even when proper precautions are taken" said Les Grove, OSHA's Columbia area director. "In this case, the fatality was the direct result of management's disregard for the safety of employees engaged in longshoring operations."
According to Grove, an OSHA inspector was on-site preparing to begin a general schedule inspection when company officials were informed that a fatal accident had occurred. A fatality investigation was initiated immediately.
The investigation found that devices for handling cargo were used before they had been properly certified, inspected and tested. The aluminum T-bars were also not safely slung prior to being hoisted off the cargo ship. These violations, classified as willful, resulted in penalties totaling $126,000.
Carolina Marine was also fined a total of $42,547 for fifteen serious violations. These included several electrical hazards, locked and unmarked exits, machine guarding hazards, an unsafe gangway, and employee exposure to fall hazards of up to 12 feet. Several of the serious violations dealt with hazards associated with cargo lifting and lifting equipment -- use of unsafe equipment, exceeding and not marking safe load limits of lifting pans, and employees working under suspended cargo.
The remaining $900 penalty was proposed for several other-than-serious violations, including failure to maintain required accident and injury logs.
Grove said, "Longshoring companies, like Carolina Marine, are aware that material handling devices in maritime are hazardous and require testing and certification. When our inspector showed up, company officials ordered crews to change the lifting pan method used to offload aluminum T-bars and begin using synthetic slings even though the workers had not been trained in that lifting method. The lifting pans, which had not been certified, were hidden from view."
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations.
A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
Other-than-serious violations are those that do not have substantial probability of causing death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.
Carolina Marine Handling has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.