US Department of Labor's OSHA fines US Minerals in Galveston,
Texas, $273,000 for alleged workplace safety violations
GALVESTON, Texas – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited U.S. Minerals Inc. with three alleged willful and 35 alleged serious violations for exposing workers to multiple safety and health hazards at the company's facility in Galveston. Proposed penalties total $273,000.
"This company jeopardized the safety of its employees by not providing the proper fall protection and machine guarding," said Mark Briggs, OSHA's area director for the Houston South Area Office. "Employers' disregard for worker safety will not be tolerated."
The willful violations are for failing to provide fall protection for open-sided platforms, failing to provide conveyors equipped with emergency stops or pull cords and failing to provide adequate fall protection for the bulk load out area. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
Serious violations include failing to provide covers on chute floors, failing to remove damaged portable metal ladders from service, failing to ensure compressed gas cylinders were properly secured, failing to provide fire extinguishers where combustible and flammable materials were stored and failing to develop and document machine specific lockout/tagout procedures for equipment. A serious violation is one in which 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, a privately held company that manufactures abrasive blasting and roofing materials, employs about 60 workers and operates two plants in Illinois, one in Harvey, La., and the Galveston facility. In September, OSHA fined the company's Baldwin, Ill., facility $466,400 and cited 35 health and safety violations for willfully exposing its workers to dangerously high levels of hazardous dust and failing to provide adequate breathing protection. As a result of the Baldwin inspection, which took place on March 11, OSHA opened inspections of additional U.S. Minerals facilities in Coffeen, Ill., and Harvey, La., and this one in Galveston. OSHA's inspection of the Louisiana facility resulted in the company being cited with 30 safety violations and proposed penalties of $110,400.
The investigation meets requirements of OSHA's Severe Violators Enforcement Program (SVEP). Initiated in the spring of 2010, SVEP is intended to focus OSHA enforcement resources on recalcitrant employers who endanger workers by demonstrating indifference to their responsibilities under the law by committing willful, repeated or failure-to-abate violations in one or more of the following circumstances: a fatality or catastrophe; industry operations or processes that expose workers to severe occupational hazards; employee exposure to hazards related to the potential releases of highly hazardous chemicals; and all egregious enforcement actions. For more information on SVEP, go to: http://www.osha.gov/dep/svep-directive.pdf*.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Houston, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call the agency's Houston South Area Office at 281-286-0583, its Houston North Area Office at 281-591-2438 or OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) to report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers.
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 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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