Region 1 News Release: BOS 99-177
Wednesday, September 22, 1999
Contact: John M. Chavez
PHONE: (617) 565-2075
BATH IRON WORKS CITED BY OSHA FOR NUMEROUS ALLEGED SHIPYARD SAFETY AND HEALTH VIOLATIONS; OVER $190,000 IN PENALTIES PROPOSED
Bath Iron Works of Bath, Maine, has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor for alleged SERIOUS, REPEAT, and other-than-serious workplace safety and health violations at the company's shipyard. OSHA is proposing a total of $190,400 in penalties for the alleged violations.
According to C. William Freeman, OSHA area director for Maine, the alleged violations were uncovered during an inspection of the shipyard which began on March 23, 1999. He noted that the inspection was initiated under OSHA's interim targeting program, which identifies high-hazard industries for inspection based on their injury and illness rates. The data for BIW showed a workplace injury and illness rate over twice the industry average.
"We conducted both safety-focused and health-focused inspections," said Freeman. "And what we found amounted to a litany of hazards to which employees were exposed, many of which BIW has been cited for during past inspections. Certainly, this company has extensive experience in ship building and repairing and extensive knowledge of OSHA's safety and health requirements. There is really no excuse for exposing its employees to such serious hazards."
Consequently, noted Freeman, the company is being cited for:
- Thirty-nine alleged SERIOUS violations, including proposed penalties totaling $86,500, relating to machine guarding, fire extinguisher and electrical hazards and the use of defective powered industrial trucks; as well as maritime violations relating to unguarded manholes, decks and floor openings; blocked exits and fire extinguishers; chains not marked or inspected; loads suspended over workers' heads; and personal fall arrest systems not adequate.
- Eight alleged REPEAT violations, carrying proposed penalties totaling $85,400, for maritime hazards such as unsafe scaffolds or staging; missing mid-rails on scaffolds, staging or working platforms; defective ladders; lack of safety belts and lifelines; and housekeeping. [The company has been cited previously for similar violations.
- Nineteen alleged other-than-serious violations, carrying no proposed penalties, relating to egress and electrical hazards; damaged wire rope slings; improperly stored compressed gas cylinders; and unsecured floor hole covers.
- Six alleged SERIOUS violations, including proposed penalties of $18,500, relating to inadequate eyewash stations, hazard communication, personal protective equipment and ventilation hazards; and maritime violations relating to personal protective equipment and painting hazards.
- Seven alleged other-than-serious violations, with no proposed penalties, relating to hazard communication and personal protective equipment hazards.
Freeman noted that Bath Iron Works, which is now owned by General Dynamics Corporation, has had 100 previous OSHA inspections since 1976. The most significant case dates from 1987 when a comprehensive inspection of the BIW facilities resulted in proposed penalties totaling $4,200,000.
Freeman urged Maine employers and employees with questions regarding safety and health standards to contact the OSHA offices in Bangor or Portland. He added that OSHA's toll-free nationwide hotline -- 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -- may be used to report workplace accidents and fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially those situations which occur outside of normal business hours.
A repeat violation is defined by OSHA as one where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found.
A serious violation is defined as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
An other-than-serious violation is a condition which would probably not cause death or serious physical harm, but would have a direct and immediate impact on the safety and health of employees.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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