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Region 4 News Release: 09-1309-ATL (376)
Nov. 3, 2009
Contact: Michael D'Aquino     Michael Wald
Phone: 404-562-2076     404-562-2078

US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Miami companies with willful and serious safety violations after fatality at Bernuth Marine Terminal

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing penalties against four Miami, Fla., companies for safety violations following a fatality at the Bernuth Marine Terminal.

In May, an investigation was initiated following notification to OSHA of a possible occupational death when a longshoreman was missing for two days. The employee of Miami Stevedoring Services (MSS) apparently fell overboard from the top of a container that was onboard a cargo vessel.

Miami Stevedoring is receiving willful citations related to the fatality for exposing workers to fall hazards while working from the ship's intermodal containers and failing to provide workers with personal floatation devices while working onboard ships. The company is also receiving a willful citation for operating powered industrial trucks that had broken and missing equipment, along with two repeat, six serious, and one other-than-serious violation.

Inspections of the other three companies Island Stevedoring LLC, Bernuth Agencies Inc. and Marine Diesel Inc. were started during the fatality investigation based on violations observed by the OSHA compliance officer. Bernuth Agencies owns the marine terminal where MSS was contracted to provide stevedoring services. Marine Diesel provides equipment repair at the terminal. Island Stevedoring currently provides the stevedoring services, replacing MSS after the fatality.

Island Stevedoring is being cited with two willful and nine serious violations. Bernuth Agencies is being cited with four serious and one other-than-serious violation. Marine Diesel is receiving five serious violations.

"Working around containers is dangerous. However, it can be done safely if employees are provided the required equipment to perform their duties, and management enforces the OSHA standards," said Darlene Fossum, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale. "The cost of human life is far too great a price to pay for anyone to ignore these hazards. All of us want to see working men and women go home safe at the end of every work shift."

The agency is proposing $318,900 in penalties against the four companies. The penalties for Miami Stevedoring Services total $196,600; Island Stevedoring $90,000; Bernuth Agencies $24,800 and Marine Diesel $7,500.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA's Fort Lauderdale Area Office, 1000 South Pine Island Road, Suite 100; telephone 954-424-0242.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit


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