Region 1 News Release: BOS 2000-167
Wednesday, November 8, 2000
Contact: John M. Chavez
PHONE: (617) 565-2075
OSHA CITES HAMDEN, CONNECTICUT, EMPLOYER FOR NUMEROUS WORKPLACE SAFETY & HEALTH VIOLATIONS;
PROPOSES OVER $127,000 IN PENALTIES
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has cited Leed Himmel Industries, Incorporated, of Hamden, Connecticut, for eighty-eight alleged serious, repeat and other violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and has proposed penalties totaling $127,620 for those alleged violations.
According to Clifford S. Weston, OSHA area director in Bridgeport, safety and health inspections of the Leed Himmel plants, located at 75 Leeder Hill Road and 1409 Dixwell Avenue in Hamden, were initiated on May 8, 2000, under OSHA's Site Specific Targeting Program which focuses on workplaces with exceptionally high injury and illness rates. "Using 1998 data," he noted, "the average lost workday injury and illness rate for all industries throughout the country was 3.1 per hundred workers. The rate for the Leed Himmel plants was 16.0 per hundred workers in that same period."
Weston stressed that, "what makes this high injury and illness rate most unfortunate is the fact that this company has a history of several OSHA inspections and citations dating from 1992. That means that this employer is well aware of all the safety and health standards which apply to its operations and yet continues to expose its employees to numerous hazards which, not surprisingly, result in occupational injuries and illnesses."
Consequently, the company, which manufactures fabricated aluminum goods, is being cited for:
Thirty-two alleged SERIOUS violations, carrying proposed penalties totaling $62,100 for exposing employees to hazards including: excessive noise levels (and then failing to protect employees with a proper hearing protection program), hazardous chemicals (and then failing to protect employees with proper personal protective equipment and training), atmospheres requiring the use of respirators (and then failing to protect employees with a proper respiratory protection program, including training), unsanitary working conditions, hazardous confined spaces (and then failing to protect employees with a proper confined space entry program), corrosive materials (and then failing to protect employees with proper quick drenching facilities), excessive concentrations of cadmium (and then failing to protect employees from such exposures through the use of proper ventilation, protective equipment and good housekeeping practices, as well as employee training), and unlabeled hazardous chemicals.
Three alleged REPEAT violations, including proposed penalties totaling $12,600 for failing to establish and maintain an audiometric testing program for all employees exposed to excessive noise levels [the company was cited for a similar violation in a citation issued on 9/23/97]; failure to require employee use of protective eye wear and face equipment in hazardous situations requiring it [the company was previously cited for a similar violation in a citation issued on 10/29/97]; and failure to provide a medical evaluation to determine an employee's ability to used a respirator [the company was cited for a similar violation in a citation issued on 6/1/98].
Eight alleged other-than-serious violations with no proposed penalties for additional noise-related problems, not training employees in first aid procedures, additional respirator program problems, allowing employees to eat and drink in areas exposed to toxic materials, failing to list hazardous chemicals used in the workplace, and failing to maintain copies of required material safety data sheets for each hazardous chemical in the workplace.
Thirty alleged SERIOUS violations, including penalties totaling $50,400 for: allowing employees to operate fork lift trucks without the use of seat belts, unguarded open sided floors and platforms, no handrails on stairs, stairs with non uniform riser height and width, use of defective portable wood and metal ladders, obstructed emergency passageways, exits not properly marked, improperly stored combustible waste material, spraying areas and sprinklers protecting spraying areas not kept free of deposits and combustible residues, narrow aisles, storage areas for flammable liquids not kept free of combustible material, unsafe transfer and dispensing of flammable liquids, LP gas containers exposed to damage and tampering, inadequate hazardous energy control program, defective sheave grooves, no monthly inspection of lifting hooks, no periodic inspection of cranes, defective slings used, no machine guarding to protect employees from revolving blades, unguarded points of operation of machinery, improperly guarded fan blades, improperly guarded circular saw blades, unsafe grinding machinery, improperly guarded mechanical power presses, improperly guarded pulleys and belts, use of high pressure compressed air for cleaning purposes, missing valve protection caps, oxygen and fuel cylinders stored together, improperly marked electrical circuits, improperly guarded live electrical parts, electrical equipment exposed to damage, ungrounded electrical equipment, improper use of electrical extension cords, and improperly installed electrical receptacles in wet locations.
One alleged REPEAT violation, carrying a proposed penalty of $2,520 for failing to ensure that fork lift truck drivers were competent to operate the equipment through completion of the proper training [the employer was previously cited for a similar violation in a citation issued on 9/10/98].
Fourteen alleged other-than-serious violations with no proposed penalties for: structures used for storage not marked with approved loads, flammable liquids not stored in approved containers, improperly stored portable fire extinguishers, control boxes not clearly marked for functions, unsecured machines, no inspection program for mechanical power presses, space around electrical equipment used for storage, reversed polarity on electrical conductors and other electrical violations.
"There is simply no excuse for such conditions to exist in any workplace," said Weston, "much less one where the employers are so well aware of the precautions they should be taking to protect their employees."
Weston urged Connecticut employers and employees with questions regarding safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area offices in Bridgeport or Hartford. He added that OSHA's toll-free nationwide hotline -- 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -- may be used to report workplace accidents and fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially those situations which occur outside of normal business hours.
A serious violation is defined by OSHA as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. A repeat violation is defined as one where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found. An other-than-serious violation is a condition which would probably not cause death or serious physical harm, but would have a direct and immediate impact on the safety and health of employees.
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 company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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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.