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Scary Stories of Noncompliance

Posted on 10/29/2013 by Joel Gregier

As Halloween approaches, you are probably hearing a lot of scary stories. You may enjoy these tales of terror, but if you are not careful with how you manage your facilities, you may find yourself in a scary story of your own.
Depending on what your company does, several government agencies may require you to comply with their regulations. For instance, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has rules to protect workers in the workplace, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has laws to keep the environment clean and unpolluted, and the Department of Transportation (DOT) has requirements to make sure hazardous materials are transported safely.
Skirting these regulations can cost your company big; some fines for regulatory noncompliance start in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. As scary as that sounds, some companies face fines in the millions of dollars. Many industry professionals would rather face Freddy Krueger than a seven-figure penalty.
Below are just a few examples of some enforcement actions that occurred within the past few months. Turn off the lights, grab your flashlight, and prepare to be terrified!
$8.75 Million Penalty for Failure to Comply With the CAA
Noncompliance Hazardous SiteIn September, a Texas refinery was hit with a chilling $8.75 million dollar fine for failing to comply with the terms of a 2007 settlement that resolved alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The original settlement required the company to pay a $2.9 million penalty and upgrade its facility to reduce emissions of harmful air pollution. However, the company failed to perform those corrective actions, and is now facing the consequences. This is a good lesson; you cannot just ignore the problem and hope it goes away.
San Antonio Agrees to Upgrade Sewer Systems for $1.1 Billion
In July, San Antonio, CA agreed to spend an approximate $1.1 billion to achieve compliance with Clean Water Act (CWA) standards. The city is upgrading its sewer systems in response to allegations that it was illegally discharging raw sewage. In addition to the upgrades, the city is required to pay $2.6 million in civil penalties to the EPA. This situation goes to show that if your facility is large, or even a major U.S. city, the fines can be downright blood-curdling.
OSHA Violations Lead to $1.1 Million Fine
The EPA is not the only agency that hands out hair-raising fines. In August, the Department of Labor doled out fines to an Ohio steel manufacturing plant that added up to $1,138,500. The company was cited for 24 violations, 15 of them willful violations of OSHA’s fall protection standards. According to OSHA, the company has a history of failing to address fall issues, which culminated in serious injuries for two workers in June and August. As you can see, purposefully avoiding compliance rules can really add up.
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Refrigerated Food Warehouse Cited for 63 Safety Violations
This one will give you chills. A refrigerated food warehouse in Hawaii was fined $251,330 after an OSHA inspection uncovered 63 violations of worker health and safety regulations. Violations included blocked emergency exits and improper management of highly hazardous chemicals. “The employer’s shocking decision to seal exit doors and block emergency exit routes to gain additional storage space placed the workers in great jeopardy,” said Galen Lemke, director of OSHA’s Honolulu Area Office. By placing their workers in jeopardy with these unsafe conditions, the facility opened themselves up to a six-figure penalty.
Avoid a horror story at your facility. Ensure your team is prepared to meet any compliance challenge with effective training on the U.S. DOT hazmat shipping, EPA hazardous waste, and OSHA workplace safety regulations from Lion Technology. At www.Lion.com you can choose from nationwide public workshops, convenient 24/7 online courses, and live, instructor-led webinars for expertly designed training that fits your schedule.
Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Tags: Act, Air, Clean, Clean Water Act, osha

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