US Labor Department's OSHA cites IFCO Systems North America for safety,
health violations at San Antonio facility; proposes nearly $164,000 in fines
SAN ANTONIO – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Houston-based IFCO Systems North America Inc. with 10 serious, three repeat and six other-than-serious violations for exposing workers to safety and health violations at its facility on Tacco Drive in San Antonio. OSHA's San Antonio Area Office initiated an inspection as part of the agency's Site-Specific Targeting program, which directs enforcement activity to work sites with higher-than-average injury and illness rates. Proposed penalties total $163,900.
"Serious and repeat violations compromise worker safety," said Jeff Funke, the agency's area director in San Antonio. "This employer has not exercised its responsibility to ensure workers are not exposed to hazards."
The serious violations include failing to refit employees for and retrain them on hearing protection when annual tests revealed that they had experienced notable hearing loss, secure dock boards when driven over by forklifts and ensure that copies of material safety data sheets were on hand. 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 repeat violations include failing to provide machine guarding for rotating shafts on a wood chipping machine and properly maintain an electrical conduit that was pulled back, exposing internal conductors on a terminal box. 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. In February and June of 2010, the company's San Antonio facility was cited for similar violations with penalties totaling $17,500 and $4,620, respectively. Additionally, OSHA cited the company's Henderson, Colo., facility in March 2011 for machine guarding and other violations with penalties of $67,765.
The other-than-serious violations at the San Antonio site include failing to adequately describe occupational injuries and illnesses on the OSHA 300 log, and record a case on the log when an employee experienced a work-related hearing loss. 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.
The current citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/IFCO_315627596_0313_12.pdf*
IFCO Systems North America performs pallet recycling, reverse logistics, and crating and packaging operations. The company, which employs about 70 workers in San Antonio and 3,000 nationwide, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's San Antonio Area Office 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 San Antonio office at 210-472-5040. 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, audiotape 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.