Region 8 News Release: 11-635-DEN
May 16, 2011
Contact: Rich Kulczewski
US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Vestas Towers America for safety
and health violations at Pueblo, Colo., plant following worker injury
DENVER – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Vestas Towers America Inc. in Pueblo for one willful and 23 serious safety and health violations following a comprehensive inspection of the wind turbine manufacturing plant. The inspection was initiated after an employee sustained a partial amputation of two fingers and a broken wrist in November 2010.
"Vestas Towers America failed to provide its employees with a safe and healthful workplace," said John Healy, OSHA area office director in Englewood. "The numerous hazards uncovered during this investigation are totally unacceptable."
The willful violation addresses the deliberate removal of support equipment while welding sections of wind towers together, which caused the sections to slide and resulted in the amputation injury. 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.
The serious violations address employee exposure to hazards associated with improper machine guarding, damaged electrical equipment, improper forklift operations, a lack of guardrails, inadequate worker egress, improper use of ladders, a lack of personal protective equipment and not training workers on the use of hazardous chemicals. 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.
This inspection was conducted at the same location where an employee of Transportation Technology Services was crushed between a forklift and a rail car while loading sections of wind towers for shipment in October 2010. That company, along with Vestas Towers America, were issued serious citations relating to that incident.
OSHA has proposed $164,000 in fines against Vestas Towers America for this latest incident. The company has 15 business days from receipt of all OSHA citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Englewood Area Office; telephone 303-843-4500. 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.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.