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OSHA News Release – Region 4
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 4 News Release ATL 03-216
Thurs., Sept. 4, 2003
Contact: Roberto Sanchez Jo Anne Burgoyne
Phone: (205) 731-1534 (404) 562-2076
Proposes $105,000 in Penalties
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Sloss Industries for failing to protect Birmingham plant employees by allowing unsafe work practices which led to the amputation of a worker's leg. The company was also cited for exposing employees to falling, slipping and tripping hazards. OSHA proposed penalties totaling $105,000.
Sloss Industries produces coke, chemical by-products and slag wool at the Birmingham facility.
On March 5, an employee climbed onto the first of six rail cars loaded with coal and headed down a hill to the plant's coal dump area, using hand-brakes to control the speed of the gravity-driven cars. As he neared the dump area the wheels locked, but continued to slide. Using hand bars on the side of the first car, he attempted to leap onto the second car and apply the hand brakes, but he fell under the moving wheels, severing his leg.
"Protecting worker safety and health must be a priority for employers. If this company had established a policy of safe work practices and equipment maintenance programs, this accident would have been prevented," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's Birmingham area director.
OSHA issued six serious citations with proposed penalties of $30,000 for allowing employees to climb the sides of moving rail cars; for failing to protect workers from fall hazards caused by bent, broken and smashed hand bars, faulty brakes and other damaged equipment, including a system that should have prevented run-away cars.
The agency issued two repeat citations with total proposed penalties of $75,000 for exposing employees to slipping hazards on flooring slick with hydraulic fluid, and for fall hazards where guardrails were missing or damaged.
OSHA had previously cited Sloss Industries, owned by the Jim Walter Corporation, for substantially similar conditions and those citations have become a final order of the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The company has 15 working days to contest the latest citations and proposed penalties before the Commission.
Staff from the Birmingham OSHA office, located at 2047 Canyon Rd., conducted the inspections; telephone: (205) 731-1534.
OSHA has a compliance assistant program, separate from its enforcement program, to help employers initiate and maintain effective safety and health programs at their facilities.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is dedicated to saving lives, preventing injuries and illnesses, and protecting America's workers. Safety and health add value to business, the workplace and life. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
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