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Region 1 News Release: BOS 2000-164
Friday, Nov. 3, 2000
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
PHONE: (617) 565-2074
OSHA PROPOSES NEARLY $110,000 IN FINES AGAINST BRIDGEPORT, CONN., STEEL PLANT FOR ALLEGED REPEAT AND SERIOUS SAFETY VIOLATIONS
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Bushwick Metals, Inc., a Bridgeport, Connecticut, steel processor, for alleged Repeat, Serious and Other than Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and has proposed penalties totaling $109,000.
According to Clifford S. Weston, OSHA area director in Bridgeport, the alleged violations were discovered during an inspection initiated May 4, 2000, in response to an employee complaint and encompass a cross-section of manufacturing hazards, including several conditions which had been cited by OSHA in a 1998 inspection at the same location.
Bushwick Metals, Inc. processes, warehouses and ships various steel products, including beams, bars, strips, sheets, plates, pipes and tubing. Approximately 95 employees work at the foundry, which is located at 560 North Washington Street in Bridgeport.
"Cited conditions included unguarded portions of band saws and metal shears, electrical parts that were not guarded against accidental contact, steel stock protruding into aisles where employees could walk into it, employees failing to wear helmets in areas where they might be struck by falling objects, improper storage of oxygen and compressed gas cylinders, inadequate training of fork truck operators, and an incomplete log of on-the-job injuries," said Weston.
"The inspection also identified deficiencies concerning hazardous energy control, also known as lockout/tagout, the means by which an employer shuts off and locks out various machines' power sources to prevent their accidental startup during maintenance," he said. "In this case, employees were found to be changing saw blades without first ensuring that the saws' power source was locked out."
Weston noted that the sizable penalty proposed in this case reflects the classification of eight of the citations as Repeat. OSHA had previously inspected the plant in the fall of 1998 and subsequently issued citations for 26 Serious and four Other than Serious violations with fines totaling $23, 100.
"Of special concern is the reoccurrence of several types of hazards that were identified and cited during the earlier inspection," he said. "This means that employees are once again exposed to such potential hazards as lacerations, fractures, amputation, head injuries, electrocution and being injured by unexpectedly activated machinery, if these conditions are not corrected."
Specifically, the citations and proposed penalties encompass:
Eight alleged Repeat violations, with $101,000 in penalties proposed, for:
- employees not wearing protective helmets while exposed to injury from falling objects; failure to conduct a workplace hazard assessment that would have identified hazards requiring employees to use such personal protective equipment;
- failure to adequately train employees in the purpose and function of the hazardous energy control (lockout/tagout) program;
- failure to ensure that all fork truck operators were competently trained;
- unguarded nip and catch points on large horizontal band saws and metal shears;
- unguarded points of operation on metal shears;
- failure to properly locate or label disconnecting means for motors and appliances so that their purpose was evident to workers;
- live parts of electrical equipment not guarded against accidental contact;
- an incomplete and uncertified OSHA 200 illness and injury log.
[The company had previously been cited by OSHA for substantially similar violations at this workplace in December 1998.]
Four alleged Serious violations, with $8,000 in penalties proposed, for:
- steel stock protruding into and obstructing aisles where employees walk;
- unsecured oxygen cylinders exposed to damage;
- oxygen cylinders not separated from fuel-gas cylinders or combustible materials by a non-combustible barrier or by being stored at the proper distance;
- electrical equipment exposed to damage due to inadequate enclosures or guards.
Two alleged Other than Serious violations, for:
- incomplete written energy control procedures; and failure to conduct periodic inspections of the hazardous energy control procedure.
Weston urged Connecticut employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area offices in Bridgeport or Hartford and added that OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline --1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742)-- may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.
A serious violation is defined by OSHA as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. A repeated violation is issued by OSHA when an employer has been cited for a substantially similar violation on a previous OSHA inspection and that citation has become final. 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 relationship to 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, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.
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