U.S. Department of Labor | May 26, 2016 BOS 2016-081
Repeat safety and health violator US Chutes Inc. fails to correct hazards,
'needlessly places its workers at risk' of illness, injury
Litchfield County manufacturer faces an additional $422k in OSHA fines
HARTFORD, Conn. - After the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited and fined U.S. Chutes Inc.'s Bantam plant $94,428 for repeated and serious safety violations in January 2015, the manufacturer of galvanized chutes for laundry and trash conveyors asked for time to correct the hazards completely.
After the company failed to submit verification of the hazards' corrections, OSHA's Hartford Area Office opened a follow-up inspection and, as a result, U.S. Chutes now faces an additional $422,680 in federal penalties for uncorrected, repeat and new workplace safety hazards.
"U.S. Chutes' ongoing refusal to correct serious conditions that can sicken or injure its employees must stop. Every day it fails to correct hazards, it needlessly places its workers at risk of crushing and amputation injuries, dangerous chemical exposure, eye injuries, electric shock and exposure to a cancer-causing substance," said Warren Simpson, OSHA's area director in Hartford.
The uncorrected hazards encompass the company's continuing failure to:
- Properly guard and inspect mechanical power presses.
- Update its respiratory protection program.
- Provide medical evaluations for employees required to wear respirators.
- Conduct monitoring to determine employees' exposure to hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen.
- Provide chemical hazard communication training chemical safety data sheets for employees.
- Provide a certified hazard assessment for each job task.
- Correctly use and install electrical equipment.
The recurring hazards included not fit-testing employees' respirators; blocked access to electrical panels; and unsecured compressed gas cylinders. New hazards involve lack of an emergency eyewash station; an eyewash station installed immediately below energized light switches; and inadequate insulation on a power cord.
These conditions led OSHA to cite U.S. Chutes on May 9, 2016, for 10 instances of failing to abate previously cited hazards as well as three repeat and three serious violations of workplace safety and health standards. The citations can be viewed here, here and here.
Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, U.S. Chutes has 15 business days from receipt of its failure to abate notices and citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
U.S. Chutes has also failed to pay the $94,428 in fines assessed in January 2015 and has not responded to demand letters from OSHA. The Debt Collection Accountability Team in OSHA's Office of Financial Management has now referred the debt to the U.S. Department of the Treasury for collection.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Hartford office at 860-240-3152.
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 https://www.osha.gov.
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Release Number: 16-1009-BOS
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