Feb. 12, 2015 BOS 2015-027
Central Transport LLC shipping exposes terminal employees
in multiple states to injuries and death from defective forklifts US Labor Department files complaint as company repeatedly ignores safety needs
BOSTON – Employees at Central Transport LLC's 170 freight shipping terminals nationwide use forklifts daily to move, handle, load and unload freight and other materials. These vehicles must be maintained according to recognized safety standards, so that workers are not crushed, struck-by or injured by defective forklifts.
Multiple inspections during the last several years by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration have found that Central Transport has repeatedly left dangerously defective forklifts in service in at least 11 shipping terminals in nine states: Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
As a result, the department has filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission seeking an order to require the freight shipper to remove damaged, defective and unsafe powered industrial trucks from service at all its locations nationwide.
"A systemic problem demands a systemic solution," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Central Transport's corporate safety managers participated in several OSHA inspections and were aware of the widespread nature of these hazards, but have not corrected them across the board. This means that employees at many Central Transport terminals continue to be exposed to deadly or disabling injuries day after day. This must change."
The department's complaint alleges that Central Transport has been aware of the need to remove damaged, defective and unsafe forklifts from service since 2006. Several OSHA inspections resulted in 11 citations and final orders, which required Central Transport to remove damaged forklifts from service. However, OSHA inspections in 2014 of company freight terminals in Billerica, Massachusetts, and Rock Island and Hillside, Illinois, found that the company, despite its awareness of the hazards involved, knowingly allowed this dangerous practice to continue at multiple locations.
"When a company operates in multiple locations and workers face similar hazards at many, if not all, locations, their safety can't be addressed in a piecemeal fashion. Given the breadth and severity of the hazards these workers face, and Central Transport's failure to respond proactively, we are seeking an order requiring correction at all of the company's locations where these hazards exist," said Michael Felsen, the department's regional solicitor of labor in Boston, whose office filed the complaint.
Central Transport, based in Warren, Michigan, employs about 4,300 workers at 170 locations nationwide. It has 20 days from receipt of its complaint to file an answer with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Scott M. Miller of the department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in Boston is litigating the case.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov/.
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Perez v. Central Transport LLC
OSHRC Docket Number: 14-1934
Release Number: 15-198-BOS
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