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OSHA News Release – Region 5
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 5 News Release: 08-672-CHI
May 20, 2008
Contact: Scott Allen or Brad Mitchell
CHICAGO -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) again has cited United Airlines Inc. in Chicago for alleged multiple serious, willful and repeat violations of federal workplace safety and health standards, and has proposed $192,500 in fines.
As a result of its latest inspection, initiated in November 2007, OSHA has issued citations for 39 serious violations with proposed penalties totaling $112,000. OSHA also has cited United Airlines for one willful violation with a proposed $70,000 fine, one repeat violation with a $7,500 fine and three other-than-serious violations totaling $3,000 in penalties.
OSHA selected United Airlines for this inspection after reviewing occupational injury and illness data, which included ramp services, customer service, air freight, aircraft and ground equipment maintenance, building/facility maintenance, business operations, strategic procurement, medical facilities and flight attendant operations.
Some of the serious violations address health hazards associated with the design of flammable liquid storage cabinets and rooms, an open-sided tank containing corrosive liquid, respiratory protection program deficiencies, and failure to conduct an asbestos survey to determine the presence and quantity of materials containing asbestos. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The willful violation addresses the health hazards associated with United Airlines failing to provide awareness training to employees that work in areas where asbestos is known to be present. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
The repeat violation addresses hazards associated with containers of hazardous chemicals not appropriately labeled. A repeat violation is defined as a violation that was previously cited where, upon re-inspection, a substantially similar violation is found.
An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have an immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.
"These violations should not exist at any worksite," said Diane Turek, director of OSHA's Chicago North Area Office in Des Plaines, Ill. "They are problems that can be avoided if an employer is dedicated to protecting employees. Employers must remain dedicated to keeping the workplace safe and healthful or face close scrutiny by this agency."
United Airlines 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. Since 2004, OSHA has inspected United Airlines 23 times at various locations nationwide. United Airlines operations at O'Hare International Airport have been inspected nine times since 2000 with four of those inspections resulting in citations.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department 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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