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Region 1 News Release: BOS 2000-145
Monday, October 16, 2000
Contact: John M. Chavez
PHONE: (617) 565-2075
CLAREMONT, NEW HAMPSHIRE, EMPLOYER CITED BY OSHA FOR WORKPLACE SAFETY & HEALTH VIOLATIONS; OVER $300,000 IN PENALTIES PROPOSED
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has cited American Brush Co., Inc., of Claremont, New Hampshire, for several very serious alleged violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and has proposed penalties totaling $301,050 for those alleged violations.
According to David May, OSHA area director for New Hampshire, the citations are the result of both safety and health inspections of the company's plant, located at 300 Industrial Blvd., Claremont, New Hampshire. The inspections took place between April 13 and September 29, 2000. Area Director May explained that the plant, which manufactures paint brushes, was selected for inspection because of its extremely high injury and illness rate under OSHA's Site Specific Targeting Inspection Plan.
"What our compliance officers found," said May, "revealed the reasons for those high rates. We found employees being exposed to all sorts of hazardous, unguarded machinery. We found employees being required to perform maintenance work on machines which were not properly locked and tagged to prevent their accidental start up. Both the numerous instances of unguarded machinery and the lack of lockout/tagout program have contributed to employees experiencing lost time injuries."
May stressed that the company is being cited for several alleged WILLFUL violations. "The employer is well aware of the safety standards applicable to its operation. Additionally he noted that the plant has been inspected several times in the past and the employer has been cited previously for a number of similar violations. "Consequently, as the employer has apparently decided to ignore those requirements, we are alleging that American Brush Company is willfully exposing its employees to numerous hazards we found there."
Specifically, as the result of the safety inspection, the company is being cited for:
Six alleged WILLFUL violations, carrying proposed penalties totaling $283,500, for:
- failure to develop and cause to be utilized procedures for the control of hazardous energy for the protection of employees performing set-up, servicing or maintenance on a variety of machines; failure to provide adequate training to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program was understood by employees; and failure to ensure that lockout or tagout devices were affixed as necessary to each energy isolating device by authorized employees;
- failure to provide machine guarding to protect operators and other employees from hazards created by in-going nip points, rotating parts, reciprocating parts, shear points and reciprocating saws on a variety of different machines; failure to guard points of operation of machinery to prevent employees from having any part of their body in the danger zone during operating cycles;
- failure to protect exposed parts of horizontal shafting on various machines with stationary casings enclosing shafting completely or with troughs enclosing sides and top or sides and bottom of shafting;
- failure to guard pulleys with parts seven feet or less from the floor or work platform; failure to guard vertical or inclined belts on various machines;
- failure to guard gears on various machines; and,
- failure to enclose sprocket wheels and chains which were seven feet or less above floors or platforms.
One alleged SERIOUS violation, including an $1,800 proposed penalty, for machinery with unguarded shaft ends which did not present a smooth edge and end, and which projected more than one-half the diameter of the shaft.
As a result of the health inspection, American Brush is being cited for:
Seven alleged SERIOUS violations, carrying proposed penalties totaling $13,950, for:
- allowing an opening in a flammable storage cabinet to render its fire resistance ineffective;
- failure to develop and implement an emergency response plan for employees expected to respond to potential releases of hazardous chemicals in the workplace;
- where employees were exposed to injurious corrosive materials, failure to provide suitable facilities for the quick drenching or flushing of the eyes for immediate emergency use;
- failure to perform initial exposure monitoring for employees exposed to methylene chloride (MC); failure to establish a regulated area where employees were exposed to potentially high levels of MC; failure to require employees exposed to high levels of MC to use respirators;
- failure to ensure use of protective clothing and equipment by employees exposed to MC; failure to require employees to wear impervious gloves when handling hazardous materials;
- failure to make medical surveillance available for employees exposed to high levels of MC;
- failure to provide appropriate information and training to employees exposed to MC; failure to communicate to employees exposed to MC the potential hazardous effects of the chemical, including: cancer, cardiac effects, central nervous system effects, liver effects, and skin and eye irritation.
Seven alleged other-than-serious violations, one of which includes a proposed penalty of $1,800, for:
- failure to properly complete the required log and summary of occupational injuries and illnesses;
- failure to certify as true and complete the required annual summary of occupational injuries and illnesses;
- failure to provide training in the use of appropriate equipment to employees designated to use fire fighting equipment as part of the emergency action plan;
- failure to include a complete list of numerous hazardous chemicals present in the workplace in the written hazard communication program;
- failure to have available a material safety data sheet for each hazardous chemical present in the workplace;
- failure to provide information and training to new employees on the hazardous chemicals present in their specific work areas; and,
- failure to provide employees with site specific training on how to protect themselves from the physical and health hazards of the chemicals they are exposed to in the workplace.
May noted that American Brush Co., Inc., is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Linzer Products Corporation of Wyandanch, New York, which acquired the company from Stanley Tool in 1996. "It's unfortunate to note," said May, "that the employee injury and illness rates at American Brush have increased substantially since the company was acquired by Linzer Products Corp. We can only hope that this fact does not reflect a reduced concern by the parent company toward employee safety and health."
May urged New Hampshire employers and employees with questions regarding safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Concord. 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 willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
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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