Following an investigation of a metal coatings and manufacturing facility in New Jersey, OSHA issued citations for twenty-one workplace health and safety violations and proposed more than half a million dollars in civil penalties. The employer has 15 days to respond to the citations.
Initiated in response to a compliant, this OSHA enforcement action illustrates the potential for significant financial cost when required employee protections are disregarded or overlooked. The list of alleged violations features many of the most-cited OSHA Standards for general industry employers, including:
The employer allegedly failed to implement a written HazCom program. Safety Data Sheets (SDS), which provide detailed information about the hazards of chemicals in the workplace, were not maintained on site for some corrosive substances. OSHA regulations require that employees have access to the SDS for any covered chemical substance in their workplace.
Hazard Communication training, required under 29 CFR 1910.1200(h), was not provided to employees. The employer's failure to develop and implement a written HazCom program is labeled as a Willful -Serious violation with a proposed penalty of $116,022.
OSHA alleges that the facility did not provide training on respirator use as required by OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard at 29 CFR 1910.134. Medical evaluations, which gauge whether employees are physically able to wear a respirator, were not performed. In addition, the employer did not perform required fit tests for employees using certain respirators.
The respiratory protection training and medical evaluation violations are labeled on citations as Willful- Serious, with proposed penalties of $99,444 and $116,022.
Powered Industrial Trucks/Forklifts
Employees who operate forklifts at the facility were “not provided with formal instruction training and practical training” before operating the equipment, according to one citation. This violation is one of many that OSHA labels as serious.
Vertical portable grinders used in blasting booth areas were not outfitted with safety guards required by 29 CFR 1910.243(c)(3).
OSHA regulations require employers to identify workplace machinery that can cause injury to an employee. Injuries can occur from rotating or moving parts, flying chips or sparks, or at the point of operation.
Fall Protection/Walking-Working Surfaces
Employees working about 15 feet above the ground on a surface with an “unprotected side or edge” did not wear fall protection and were not protected by guardrails. OSHA also allegedly observed employees jumping a two-foot gap to install a tarp across a blasting booth, without adequate fall protection.
Other alleged violations described in citations include:
Access to two emergency eyewash stations was blocked by pallets of paint, pallets of steel, boxes, and 55-gallon drums.
An electrical cord was found split with exposed internal wiring and extension cords were spliced in violation of 29 CFR 1910.305(g)(2)(ii).
Steel shot, paint coatings, and corrosive material were found on the floor, in violation of OSHA’s requirement to keep workroom floors clean and dry.
Precautions were not taken to prevent ignition of flammable vapors near equipment with potential to create sparks.
In total, OSHA cited the employer for five willful violations, fifteen serious violations, and one other-than-serious violation. According to the Department of Labor, the company had enacted a comprehensive safety and health program at its corporate headquarters—but did not do the same to protect employees at its manufacturing facility.
Source: News Release (DOL.gov)
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