National News Release: USDL 99 - 184
Friday, July 2, 1999
Contact: Frank Kane (202) 693-1999
OSHA PROPOSES $180,000 IN FINES AGAINST AVONDALE INDUSTRIES
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today charged Avondale Industries, Inc. with willfully failing to properly record hundreds of injuries and illnesses at the New Orleans-area shipyard and with refusal to make injury and illness records available for inspection. OSHA proposed $180,000 in penalties for the alleged violations.
This is not the first time in recent months that Avondale has come under OSHA's scrutiny. On April 5, the agency cited the shipyard for numerous alleged safety and health violations and proposed penalties totaling $537,000. That case resulted from a 64-item complaint by the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, New Orleans Metal Trades Council, which also alleged recordkeeping violations. Avondale has contested these citations.
Today's citations and proposed penalties represent one of the largest cases of recordkeeping violations over the last decade.
"This is not merely a 'paperwork' violation," said Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman. "Accurate records of injuries and illnesses are necessary to pinpoint hazards causing injuries and illnesses and to correct them."
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Charles N. Jeffress said, "Avondale did not cooperate when it came to providing OSHA with access to necessary medical records. The shipyard allowed inspectors to see these records only after a federal court ordered them to do so. They continue to deny OSHA access to the records for leased employees under Avondale's supervision."
The citations are for three alleged willful violations.
OSHA cited Avondale for not completing the OSHA 200 log and summary of injuries and illnesses as required, with a proposed penalty of $70,000. OSHA said it found more than 700 cases of improper recording when it reviewed a random sample of almost 3,500 employee medical files. The employer failed to enter injuries and illnesses that were recordable, including lost workday cases, involving either days away from work or restricted workdays.
Another citation was for not providing a supplementary record of each recordable injury and illness to OSHA for inspection and for not maintaining a supplementary record which contained the necessary information, with a proposed penalty of $40,000.
Avondale was also cited by OSHA for not providing it with access to employee exposure and medical records, with a proposed penalty of $70,000.
Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
Avondale has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
# # #
(Editor's Note: See attached fact sheet for examples of injuries and illnesses not properly recorded.)
EXAMPLES OF INJURIES AND ILLNESSES
NOT PROPERLY RECORDED
AT AVONDALE INDUSTRIES
Some examples of injuries and illnesses not properly recorded, according to OSHA compliance officers, were:
An employee working on a press suffered a torn rotator cuff, which required surgery. The employee's restricted work activity was undercounted by 152 days and the injury was inaccurately described.
An employee tripped over some wires, tearing a ligament in the knee. Surgery was performed to repair the ligament and the physician required work restrictions. The injury was recorded in the log with no days away from work. It should have been recorded with 143 days away from work. The severity of the injury also was inaccurately recorded.
An employee suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome and had about 20 days away from work, but the illness was not recorded on the log.
A pipe fitter was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, which could have been contributed to or aggravated by work and should have been recorded as an illness with at least 60 lost work days, but was not.
An employee suffered a lower back injury and had 38 days away from work and 10 days restricted work activity. The injury was recorded as no lost time.
An employee cut a finger while tightening a band. Treatment included sutures, prescription medication, and whirlpool. The injury, its associated 14 days away from work and at least 10 restricted work activity days were removed from the log, making it the same as not recorded.
The text of this news release is on the Internet World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov.
Information on this news release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-693-1999.