US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Stella-Jones Corp. for 16 violations
following fatality at Alabama railroad tie manufacturing plant
WARRIOR, Ala. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Stella-Jones Corp., a manufacturer of railroad ties, with 16 safety violations, including one willful, following the crushing death of a worker who was caught in a machine at the company's facility in Warrior.
OSHA's Birmingham Area Office initiated an inspection Sept. 12 in response to the fatality. The willful violation is failing to install guards to prevent access to the rotating and moving parts of a pre-plate boring machine used to drill holes into railroad ties. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
"Management failed to install the protections designed by the machine's manufacturer to prevent entrapment," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's area director in Birmingham. "This incident could have been avoided if the company had followed OSHA standards and the machine manufacturer's specifications."
Twelve serious violations involve failing to cover openings in the conveyor where employees could step into the machinery, provide machine guards on a conveyor or saw, conduct inspections of energy control procedures, develop lockout/tagout procedures to prevent unplanned energizing of the pre-plate machine when it was being serviced, mark permit-required confined spaces, evaluate the ability to respond to a rescue if needed and provide railings on a platform so workers were not exposed to fall hazards. The violations also include electrical deficiencies such as a receptacle lacking a cover plate, wiring and equipment in the treatment plant that were not approved for wet locations, and electrical cords lacking strain relief. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Three other-than-serious violations include failing to mark exits, using damaged electrical cords and using a flexible cord instead of fixed wiring. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
Due to the willful violation and the nature of the hazards, OSHA has placed Stella-Jones in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. For more information on the program, visit http://s.dol.gov/J3.
The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Stella-Jones-Corporation_315969071_0308_12.pdf*.
Proposed penalties for the citations total $120,600. The company, headquartered in Montreal, Canada, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Birmingham or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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) or the agency's Birmingham office at 205-731-1534.
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.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.
* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF documents.