OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
Region 1 04-1688-BOS /BOS 2004-199
Monday, August 30, 2004
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
BRAINTREE, Mass. -- A Stoughton, Mass., carpet distributor's alleged failure to safeguard workers against falls, crushing hazards and unsafe use of forklift trucks at its 1053 Turnpike St. warehouse has resulted in $45,900 in proposed penalties from the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Empire Home Service was cited for 11 alleged serious violations of safety standards following an OSHA inspection opened Aug. 3. Employees complained to the federal agency after a 20-foot-high storage rack collapsed and dropped several rugs, some weighing 1500 pounds, onto an unoccupied forklift. OSHA defines a serious violation as a condition for which there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
OSHA's inspection found that employees who retrieved carpet stock from upper tiers of storage racks faced fall hazards. For example, when lifted in a personnel platform that was not secured to the forklift truck that was lifting it. In addition, workers faced crushing hazards from carpets stored in unstable storage racks.
The inspection also identified several hazards involving forklift trucks. These included untrained operators; operators not wearing seatbelts; modifying or altering forklifts without the manufacturer's approval; missing or illegible data plates; forklifts raising heavier loads than they were capable of lifting safely; not inspecting forklifts prior to use; and failing to provide required refresher training to a forklift operator involved in an accident.
"To eliminate these hazards and prevent them from happening again, employees need to be trained and given properly maintained equipment, and the company has to establish and enforce work rules," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for southeastern Massachusetts.
Gordon noted that OSHA has a regional emphasis program focusing on hazards associated with forklifts and other powered industrial trucks. Under the program OSHA area offices in New England examine powered industrial truck operations during inspections and assign special priority to employee complaints about such hazards.
Empire Home Service has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. OSHA's Braintree area office conducted the inspection. Its telephone number is (617) 565-6924.
In fiscal year 2003, OSHA conducted almost 40,000 inspections, and more than half focused on high-hazard industries including construction. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Labor Department (DOL) releases are accessible on the Internet at <http://www.dol.gov>. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. DOL is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.
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