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Region 4 News Release: 10-1139-ATL (489)
Aug. 24, 2010
Contact: Michael D'Aquino
Email: D'Aquino.Michael@dol.gov
Phone: 404-562-2076

US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Walter Coke Inc. of Birmingham,
Ala., with repeat safety violations and $171,500 in penalties

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing $171,500 in penalties against Walter Coke Inc. of Birmingham for exposing workers to a variety of safety violations.

The February inspection was initiated based on the 2009 Site-Specific Targeting program, which directs enforcement resources to those workplaces where the highest rates of injuries and illness have occurred.

"Prior to this inspection, the company was made aware of what needed to be addressed to protect its workers from injury, but management did not act and continues to put employees at risk," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's area director in Birmingham. "Managers should not wait any longer to implement OSHA standards to protect their employees."

The company is being cited with three repeat violations carrying proposed penalties of $99,000. The employer failed to complete annual inspections of the lockout/tagout procedures for energy control, and to provide proper machine guarding to protect the operator and other workers from rotating parts, flying chips and sparks. A repeat violation is issued when an employer previously was cited for the same or similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last three years.

The employer also is being cited with 27 serious safety violations carrying $72,500 in proposed penalties. These violations include fall and trip hazards, blocked fire extinguishers exposing workers to fire risks, lack of proper railings around stairs and floor openings, failing to provide an emergency shut-off for dispensing gasoline, confined space deficiencies, toxic chemical storage and poor housekeeping. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Walter Coke Inc., which produces coke for use in blast furnaces and foundries in the steel industry, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA's area office, 950 22nd St. N., Suite 1050, Birmingham, AL 35203; telephone 205-731-1534. To report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-6742.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at http://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 http://www.dol.gov/compliance.


OSHA News Release - Table of Contents

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