US Labor Department's OSHA cites US Minerals facility in Baldwin, Ill., for
failing to lock out equipment, protect workers from falls; fines total $83,000
Company cited for safety violations for fifth time, facility second time in less than a year
BALDWIN, Ill. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued the U.S. Minerals LLC facility in Baldwin seven citations for allegedly failing to develop and implement procedures to control hazardous energy, install guard rails where necessary and maintain equipment. The company faces penalties totaling $83,000 following an inspection that began during September 2010.
"U.S. Minerals' failure to develop and implement plans to control hazardous energy and prevent injuries to workers is simply unacceptable," said Thomas Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria. "U.S. Minerals repeatedly has been cited at this facility and others for failing to follow OSHA safety and health standards to protect workers. OSHA is committed to ensuring employers abide by the law, which requires commonsense safety practices."
One willful citation with a proposed penalty of $56,000 was issued for failing to develop and document procedures to control potentially hazardous energy. OSHA regulations require an employer to establish a program consisting of energy control procedures, employee training and periodic inspections. The purpose of such a program is to ensure that, before an employee performs any servicing or maintenance on a machine or other equipment where the unexpected energizing, startup or release of stored energy could occur and cause injury, the equipment is isolated from the energy source and rendered inoperative. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
OSHA also issued U.S. Minerals three repeat citations with proposed fines of $18,000 alleging that the company failed to have guardrails on an open-sided platform 17 feet high, install guarding on a material dump hopper, and provide and use lockout/tagout hardware devices for securing or blocking machines from energy sources. A repeat citation is issued 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.
Three serious citations were issued to the company alleging lack of inspection and maintenance documentation for a Caterpillar 980G Loader, use of an unguarded conveyer tail pulley, and failing to have authorized employees affix lockout/tagout equipment to energy isolation devices. Those violations carry total penalties of $9,000. A serious citation is issued 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.
U.S. Minerals LLC, headquartered in Dyer, Ind., manufactures abrasive blasting and roofing materials from slag produced at coal-fired power plants. Following an inspection that began in June 2010, OSHA issued a $466,400 penalty to the company's Baldwin facility in September 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 egregious conditions found in Baldwin last summer, OSHA initiated inspections of the company's three other facilities, including its Coffeen, Ill., location where a total of 28 health and safety citations with proposed penalties of $396,000 were issued in December 2010. In November 2010, the company's Harvey, La., operation was cited for 30 violations with proposed penalties of $110,400, and its Galveston, Texas, facility was fined $273,000 and cited with 38 violations for exposing workers to fall and machine guarding hazards. U.S. Minerals is contesting the previously issued citations at all four of its facilities.
As a result of the company's willful and repeat safety 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 worksites 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.
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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