US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Sumner, Texas, trailer manufacturers
for noise hazards, toxic fumes and other violations; fines total nearly $950,000
SUMNER, Texas – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited PJ Trailers Manufacturing Co. Inc. and Delco Trailers Co. Inc., a similar company owned by PJ Trailers, for seven willful, 26 serious, nine repeat and four other-than-serious violations. OSHA inspectors found workers exposed to unguarded machinery, fall hazards and accumulations of potentially hazardous dust, among other violations. Proposed penalties total $949,800.
"Employers have a responsibility to keep their workers safe and healthy. Willful and repeat citations, as well as significant penalties, reflect the fact that management knew workers were exposed to dangerous conditions yet failed to provide them with basic safety protections. That choice is unacceptable and needlessly placed these workers' health and safety at risk," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels.
PJ Trailers Manufacturing and Delco Trailers are commonly owned, with the same president and management. They share a work site, a human resources division and a safety and health manager, and they have interrelated and integrated operations. PJ Trailers and Delco Trailers previously had been cited by OSHA for many of the same hazards that the agency found during its most recent inspection. Although the company had certified abatement of the prior hazardous conditions, many of the fixes were later abandoned to accommodate production. Since 2008, at least 15 workers have suffered eye injuries requiring medical treatment and or days away from work.
OSHA's Dallas Area Office initiated a safety and health inspection at the company's facility at 1807 Farm to Market 2352 in Sumner following receipt of a complaint that employees were not adequately protected from being injured by rotating machinery parts, and employees were exposed to toxic welding fumes while fabricating trailers and noise levels above approved health standards.
The willful violations involve failing to provide fall protection for employees working on stacked trailers, provide adequate machine guarding to prevent "caught-in" or "caught-between injuries," provide employees with proper eye protection during cutting and welding operations, and establish and maintain an audiometric testing program. Audiometric testing is required when employees are exposed to high noise levels to determine if their hearing is being adversely affected. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Repeat violations include failing to ensure that all spray booth areas were kept free from accumulated powder coating, guard several pieces of hazardous machinery, have all necessary lockout/tagout procedures, provide training on existing lockout/tagout procedures to protect employees from hazardous machinery starting up unexpectedly and ensure that medical evaluations were completed to determine employees' ability to use respirators. 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. OSHA cited the company in September and October of 2006 and March 2010 for similar violations.
Serious violations include failing to provide required fall protection, provide training on electrical hazards and prevent exposure to welding fumes in excess of the average allowed during an 8-hour shift. 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.
Other-than-serious violations include failing to enter recordable injuries and illnesses on the OSHA 300 log within seven calendar days and properly certify the OSHA 300A form or its equivalent. 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 workers' compensation carrier insuring PJ Trailers and Delco Trailers is Farmington Casualty Co.
The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/PJTrailers314181926.pdf* http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/PJTrailers314181876.pdf*.
The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Dallas 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 Dallas Area Office at 214-320-2400.
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.