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Region 4 News Release
Release Number: 04-1-ATL (009)
Tues., Jan. 13, 2004
Contact: Roberto Sanchez Jo Anne Burgoyne
Phone: (205) 731-1534 (404) 562-2076
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Bob Smith Construction and R & M Equipment Rentals for safety violations following the investigation of a fatal July 30 forklift accident at a Talladega work site. The agency is proposing $83,200 in total penalties for the two companies.
A Bob Smith Construction employee, who had not received training, was instructed to drive a leased forklift to a bridge construction site, according to OSHA's investigation. When an on-coming vehicle approached, the forklift driver veered causing a tire to run off the road. The driver, who was not wearing a safety belt, was thrown from the seat and crushed by the forklift, which fell to the bottom of a 20-foot-deep ravine.
"Training is key to the safe operation of forklifts," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's Birmingham area director. "Each year in the United States, over 90 workers are needlessly killed in accidents involving forklifts."
OSHA issued one willful citation with a proposed penalty of $44,000 to Bob Smith Construction for allowing employees to operate powered industrial trucks without proper training. Company officials were aware of OSHA's training requirements and had a copy of the agency's training guide for powered industrial truck operators.
OSHA issues a willful citation when a company shows intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirement of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. The company also received one serious citation with a proposed penalty of $5,600 for failing to conduct regular inspections of equipment.
R & M Equipment Rentals received three serious citations with proposed penalties of $10,150, for failing to: provide training to its employees, who by contract should have operated the leased forklifts; failure to tag the forklift as "out-of-service" after it had been identified as needing repairs; and failure to obtain the manufacturer's approval before modifying the equipment.
OSHA also conducted an inspection of R & M's shop after receiving a complaint about unsafe working conditions. The agency issued 11 serious citations, with $23,450 in total proposed penalties, after observing employees exposed to fall hazards, potential injuries from unguarded machinery and a lack of eye wash stations for employees working with corrosive chemicals.
The two companies have 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspections were conducted OSHA's Birmingham area office staff. The office is located at 2047 Canyon Rd; phone: (205) 731-1534.
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 OSHA's web site at www.osha.gov.
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