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OSHA News Release
Region 5

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Region 5 News Release: 07-1253-CHI
Aug. 20, 2007
Contact: Brad Mitchell
Phone: (312) 353-6976

U.S. Labor Department's OSHA announces workplace health violations against American Airlines at O'Hare International Airport
Federal agency proposes $227,500 in new penalties after second inspection

CHICAGO -- One month after the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced multiple safety violations at the same worksite, the agency has proposed another $227,500 in fines against Dallas-based American Airlines Inc. in Chicago for alleged multiple willful, serious, repeat and other-than-serious violations of federal workplace health standards.

As was the case July 25 when OSHA announced $231,000 in proposed penalties for workplace safety violations, the agency selected American Airlines for a health inspection after reviewing the company's occupational injury and illness data. At O'Hare International Airport, OSHA officials inspected the airline's ramp services, cargo building, automotive shops, ticket and gate services, tower, two hangars and baggage room.

OSHA has issued one willful violation with a $70,000 proposed penalty alleging that a lack of warning signs or labels on previously identified asbestos-containing materials could result in employee exposure to that hazardous substance.

Proposed penalties totaling $119,000 have been issued for 28 alleged serious violations in a variety of areas, including hearing conservation, confined space entry, respirator issues and failing to inform employees of the presence of hazardous chemicals and labeling many of those chemicals.

Two repeat violations related to rescue and emergency service procedures for confined space, and respirator issues carry a proposed penalty of $37,500. One other-than-serious alleged violation proposes a $1,000 penalty for failure to maintain Hepatitis B declination forms.

OSHA announced last month one willful, 15 serious and six repeat violations following a safety inspection of the American Airlines operation at O'Hare International Airport. That set of citations has not yet been resolved.

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Serious violations are those that could cause death or serious physical harm to employees and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard. A repeat violation is issued when an employer has been cited previously for the same or a substantially similar violation that has become a final order. Other-than-serious violations are issued when a violation has a direct relationship to job safety and health but is not serious.

"It is the duty of all employers to keep the workplace free of hazards that may damage the long-term health of people they employ," said Diane Turek, director of OSHA's Chicago North Area Office in Des Plaines, Ill. "Exposure to dangerous substances, or failure to warn employees about potential exposure, can lead to tragedy for employees and their families."

Since 2004, OSHA has inspected American Airlines 66 times at locations nationwide, with 37 inspections resulting in citations. The O'Hare worksite has been inspected 10 times since 2000, with five inspections resulting in citations.

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 assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit


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