Feb. 19, 2015
Inspection finds Basic Marine again exposes workers to dangerous hazards
Escanaba, Michigan, shipyard receives $243K in fines, 18 safety violations
ESCANABA, Mich. – Once again, workers were exposed to dangerous amputation hazards while operating press brakes, which cut large metal pieces weighing up to 450 tons, because safety mechanisms were not in place at Basic Marine Inc. In the past six years, U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors have found similar hazards three times at the Escanaba-based shipyard and boat fabricating facility where a worker's arm was amputated in 2008.
An August 2014 follow-up inspection at Basic Marine produced penalties of $242,940 for five repeated, three willful and 10 serious safety violations, including fall and respiratory hazards. The company has also been placed in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
"Basic Marine continues to maintain an environment where employees are blamed if they're injured by dangerous machinery, and it fosters a culture where safety precautions are considered unnecessary," said Larry Johnson, area director of OSHA's Lansing Area Office. "Even when workers are harmed, the company is reluctant to re-evaluate its safety and health programs, and that's wholly unacceptable."
Three willful violations were assessed as workers were exposed to struck-by hazards, machine hazards and falls and trips from unguarded manholes and unprotected edges. In 2013, fatal falls, slips or trips took the lives of 699 workers, with falls to a lower level accounting for 574 of those fatalities. Fall and machine hazards are the most frequently cited OSHA standards.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
OSHA also found repeated violations of respiratory protection standards, such as not requiring employees to wear air-line respirators. Crane slings were not inspected every three months, and inspection records were not maintained, as required. OSHA issues repeated violations if an employer was previously cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Basic Marine was cited for these hazards in 2011.
In addition, Basic Marine exposed workers to dangerous operating machine parts because it allowed the machines to be used with inadequate protective devices. The company also failed to provide specific written procedures and training for employees on how to prevent unintentional operation of machinery during service and maintenance, such as applying locking devices and turning equipment off. OSHA inspectors also noted unmarked exit signs and the company's failure to post fire watches during welding activities. A total of 10 serious violations were issued.
An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.
View the current citations at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/BasicMarineInc_991438_0212_15.pdf.
Basic Marine 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.
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 Lansing Area Office at 517-487-4996.
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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Release Number: 15-257-CHI
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