US Labor Department's OSHA cites US Minerals facility for repeatedly failing
to lockout equipment, protect workers from falls; fines total $195,470
Company has history of safety violations at facilities throughout the country
BALDWIN, Ill. – U.S. Minerals LLC in Baldwin has been cited for six safety violations by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to provide fall protection, personal protective equipment and to implement procedures to control hazardous energy. The company faces $195,470 in penalties after a July 2013 inspection found repeat violations at the Baldwin facility.
"U.S. Minerals continues to expose workers to hazards associated with energy control procedures, including willfully violating lockout and tagout procedures and exposing workers to amputation hazards," said Thomas Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria. "U.S. Minerals repeatedly has been cited at this facility and others for failing to protect workers from these hazards. OSHA is committed to ensuring employers abide by the law, which requires common-sense safety practices that U.S. Minerals must follow."
Two willful violations were cited during this inspection. One was for failing to have guards on standard railings, which exposed workers to fall hazards of up to 40 feet. The second was for the company's failure to ensure that lockout/tagout procedures were applied to prevent the unexpected start-up of equipment while employees performed service and maintenance. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for, or plain indifference to, employee safety and health.
Three repeat violations were cited for failing to develop, document and utilize procedures for servicing equipment where more than one employee was performing tasks; conduct an annual inspection of energy control procedures; and ensure that each authorized employee affixed a lockout device to energy isolating devices prior to performing service and maintenance.
A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. U.S. Minerals was cited for this violation at the Baldwin plant in 2010.
Additionally, one serious violation was issued for failing to provide personal protective equipment that would prevent falls by employees working on top of equipment. 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.
The current citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/USMineralsInc_918329_0107_14.pdf*
Following an inspection in June 2010, OSHA issued a $466,400 penalty to the company's Baldwin facility in September of that year, citing 35 health and safety violations for willfully exposing workers to dangerously high levels of hazardous dust and failing to provide adequate breathing protection.
As a result of the conditions found in Baldwin, OSHA initiated inspections of the company's three other facilities. At the company's location in Coffeen, OSHA issued 28 health and safety citations in December 2010. In November 2010, the company's operation in Harvey, La., was cited for 30 violations, while its Galveston, Texas, facility was cited for 38 violations.
U.S. Minerals was placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program in December 2010. The program focuses on employers with a history of safety violations that endanger workers by demonstrating indifference to their responsibilities under the law. This enforcement tool includes mandatory OSHA follow-up inspections and inspections of other work sites of the same employer where similar hazards and deficiencies may be present. For more information on SVEP, visit http://www.osha.gov/dep/svep-directive.pdf*.
U.S. Minerals LLC, with headquarters in Dyer, Ind., manufactures abrasive blasting and roofing materials from slag produced at coal-fired power plants.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's Fairview Heights office in Illinois at 618-632-8612. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency'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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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 materials.