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National News Release
Wednesday, Oct. 20, 1999
CONTACT: Frank Kane
PHONE: (202) 693-1999

OSHA PROPOSES FINES OF $530,500 AGAINST NEW JERSEY FIRM FOR FAILURE TO ELIMINATE WORKPLACE HAZARDS

A Hoboken, N.J., manufacturer of steel doors and frames is facing fines of $530,500 for its failure to carry out promises to correct numerous workplace hazards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced today.

"B.R.S. Products claimed last March that it had corrected safety and health problems OSHA found nearly two years earlier, including unguarded machinery that could injure or kill employees," Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman said. "However, our follow-up inspection in April showed many of these hazards still existed."

  • OSHA today issued to the company 14 failure-to-abate notices, which can carry penalties for every day a company does not take corrective action. Six of the 14 were deemed egregious and assessed penalties for 40 days, because OSHA alleges the company knowingly failed to abate:
  • unguarded press brakes and unguarded points of operation on power presses (one employee lost a finger tip in an accident);
  • excessive noise in the workplace that can cause deafness;
  • lack of a lockout/tagout program to protect against sudden startups of machines while they were being serviced;
  • no training of employees in the use of fire extinguishers; lack of vermin control in the workplace (severe accumulations of pigeon droppings); and
  • unprotected spray painting.

"This employer's failure to fulfill its promises to protect its employees is so outrageous that stiff penalties are warranted," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Charles N. Jeffress. "B.R.S. Products and a now-defunct firm owned by B.R.S.'s operators have a long history of OSHA violations."

Nineteen additional OSHA citations issued today to B.R.S. Products carry proposed penalties of $142,900. They allege two willful safety violations, 10 serious safety and health violations, five repeat violations, and two other-than-serious violations. Proposed penalties -- including those for the notices of failure-to-abate -- total $673,400.

The principals of B.R.S. have a long history of OSHA violations dating back to another company, Bilt-Rite Steel Buck Corp. in Westbury, N.Y. OSHA inspected that company 11 times from 1974-94. The agency found violations during seven inspections and issued 55 citations. That firm, which made the same products as B.R.S. Products and was managed by the same principals, went out of business in 1996.

In May 1997, responding to a formal complaint about hazardous conditions, OSHA began a safety inspection of B.R.S. Products and issued multiple citations with $72,000 in total penalties on Sept. 24, 1997. B.R.S. Products contested the citations, reaching an agreement witn OSHA in January 1999, in which the severity of the citations was downgraded and the penalties reduced to $32,00O.

The agreement, which became a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission on March 11, included a statement from the company that all hazards had been corrected.

The company employs about 90 workers, represented by United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Hollow Metal Division, Local 2947, Jamaica, N.Y.

B.R.S. Products, Inc., has 15 working days to contest the notices and citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

# # #


(Editor's Note: See Attached Summary of Notices, Citations and Proposed Penalties)

SUMMARY OF NOTICES, CITATIONS AND PROPOSED PENALTIES B.R.S. PRODUCTS, INC., HOBOKEN, N.J.

Safety Violations

NOTICES OF ALLEGED FAILURE TO ABATE VIOLATIONS - SAFETY

Floor not in good repair, 30 days failure to abate $9,000
Severe accumulation of pigeon droppings, 40 days $48,000
No lockout/tagout program, 40 days $120,000
No fire extinguisher training, 40 days $24,000
Unguarded press brake point of operation, 40 days $120,000
Unguarded portion of band saw, 30 days $18,000
No work rest on grinder bench, 30 days $18,000
Unguarded power press foot treadle and no non-slip pad on press foot treadle, 30 days $27,000
No record of power press inspections, 30 days $1,000
Total penalties for alleged failure to abate safety violations $385,000
Note: For a "notification of failure to abate," OSHA may penalize on a daily basis employers who fail to correct previously-cited conditions. The original citation must be final and not under contest.  
ALLEGED WILLFUL VIOLATIONS - SAFETY  
Unguarded press brake point of operation $56,000
unguarded power press point of operation and guards did not prevent entry to point of operation $56,000
Total penalties for alleged willful safety violations $112,000
(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.)  
ALLEGED REPEAT VIOLATIONS - SAFETY  
Unused portion of band saw not guarded $2,400
missing work rest on bench grinder $2,400
unguarded foot treadle and no non-slip pad on treadle $3,000
workers not protected from welding flash $1,800
Total penalties for repeat safety violations $9,600
(A repeat violation is a violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found. To be the basis of a repeat violation, the original citation must be final, and not under contest.)  
ALLEGED SERIOUS VIOLATIONS - SAFETY  
Unsanitary rest rooms, insufficient toilet facilities, no tepid water, no soap, no towels or blower, no tongue guard on a bench grinder, flywheel not fully enclosed, no single stroke feature on a power press, and no spring-loaded turnover bars on power presses.  
Total penalties for serious safety violations $7,800
(A serious violation is defined 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.)  
ALLEGED OTHER-THAN-SERIOUS VIOLATIONS - SAFETY  
No log of reportable injuries that occurred during 1997, 1998 and 1999. Total penalties for other-than-serious safety violations $1,800
(An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm, but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and/or health of employees.)
Total penalties for alleged safety violations $516,200
Health Violations  
NOTICES OF ALLEGED FAILURE TO ABATE VIOLATIONS - HEALTH  
Failure to have hearing conservation program, 40 days failure to abate $24,000
No alarm/shut off for electrostatic spray booth, 30 days $45,000
Spray painting outside of protected area, 40 days $36,000
Failure to have hazard communication program, 30 days $13,500
No hazard communication training program, 30 days $27,000
Total penalties for alleged failure to abate health violations $145,500
ALLEGED SERIOUS VIOLATIONS - HEALTH  
No hearing protection, no gauge/alarm required for spray finishing operation; spray container gauge not legible; welding aprons or clothing not provided; use of non-approved welding gloves; no respirator program; no respirator medical evaluation; and no respirator fit test.  
Total penalties for alleged serious health violations $8,700
ALLEGED REPEAT VIOLATION - HEALTH  
Spray residue not cleaned from booth walls $2,400
ALLEGED OTHER-THAN-SERIOUS VIOLATION - HEALTH  
Sweeping of lead dust $600
Total penalties for alleged health violations: $157,200
TOTAL PENALTIES (BOTH SAFETY AND HEALTH VIOLATIONS): $673,400

Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.


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