DuraLabel's Weekly Safety News

Blog Author Angelique Sanders

Weekly safety news. Stay in touch with regulations from OSHA, NFPA, and other safety codes. Find out about other companies' best and worst practices. We scour the internet to provide you with helpful training resources and the latest safety information.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

$1,000,000 OSHA Fine For Piping Technology & Products In Houston

OSHA has cited Piping Technology and Products Inc. for 13 willful and 17 serious violations for exposing workers to the risk of amputations and other serious injuries from dangerous machinery, as well as other hazards, at the company's Houston facility. Proposed penalties total $1,013,000.  (A statement from Piping Technology and Products is included below.)

"Repeatedly ignoring the law while risking workers' lives and providing misleading information to federal investigators will not be tolerated," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Employers who endanger the lives and limbs of their employees must be held accountable."

A worker at Piping Technology contacted OSHA earlier this year, alleging a lack of brakes on overhead cranes and unguarded presses at the company's facility on Holmes Road. This complaint triggered an investigation by OSHA's Houston South Area Office. In addition to substantiating the complaint items, the inspection found that employees were permitted to cut metal I-beams and pipes without the proper machine guarding, which exposed them to possible severe injuries. Additionally, OSHA inspectors found that during machine maintenance, workers were exposed to the unexpected release of stored energy because of improper safeguards.

"Piping Technology deliberately exposed its workers who operate band saws and other dangerous machinery to amputation hazards while misleading OSHA investigators about the use of these machines," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels.

The willful violations involve the failure to guard seven band saws and to lock out all of the sources of hazardous energy to six pieces of equipment before service and maintenance. Each of the 13 citations carries a penalty of $70,000, for a total of $910,000. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

The 17 serious violations, with penalties totaling $103,000, involve the failure to guard other machines and grinders properly, ensure that openings on electrical equipment were securely closed, provide fall protection training and ensure that employees wore hard hats when exposed to overhead hazards. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Piping Technology had knowledge of OSHA requirements due to citations issued in 1986, 1994, 2004 and 2005 that specifically addressed the need to guard the band saws used in production processes. In 2004 and 2005, OSHA cited the company with penalties totaling $82,500 and $33,000, respectively, for a variety of workplace hazards that included lockout/tagout violations.

OSHA has placed Piping Technology in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Initiated in June 2010, the program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. For more information on SVEP, visit http://s.dol.gov/J3.

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Piping-tech-prod-312928344-1228-11.pdf*.

Piping Technology and Products has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Houston South area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Piping Technology and Products has issued the following press release:

Proposed OSHA Citations
Houston, TX – December 28, 2011 – Piping Technology has been the subject of an OSHA investigation that began earlier this year.  Piping Technology Vice President, R. K. Agrawal offers the following statement in response to the citations and proposed fines by OSHA:

“Piping Technology & Products maintains a safe workplace for its employees.  We started out in a garage in Southeast Houston and we’ve grown the company to nearly 600 employees over the last 30+ years. All the while, we’ve maintained employee safety as our #1 priority. And we think the data supports it.

Regarding the citations and proposed fines just issued by OSHA, we disagree with the conclusions that OSHA has reached. We look forward to working with OSHA to resolve the situation.

Throughout OSHA’s recent inspection of our facility, the men and women of Piping Technology, including members of our safety team, our department supervisors, our management and our other employees have fully cooperated with OSHA inspectors.”

R. K. Agrawal
Phone: (713) 364-6821

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posted by Steve Hudgik
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Anonymous electrical test and tagging said...

When employees have information about the chemicals being used, they can take steps to reduce exposures, substitute less hazardous materials, and establish proper work practices. These efforts will help prevent the occurrence of work-related illnesses and injuries caused by chemicals.

1:30 AM  
Blogger Steve Hudgik said...

Piping Technology's statement in response to the citations and proposed fines by OSHA.

Houston, TX March 13, 2012

In response to the citations delivered earlier today by OSHA, Piping Technology Vice President, R. K. Agrawal offers the following statement:

"We (Piping Technology & Products) operate a safe workplace for its employees. We take the safety and health of each and every member of our team very seriously and we think the facts and our record reflect that.

"While we have just received them and are still studying them, we disagree with the conclusions of the citations and proposed fines. We look forward to working with OSHA to resolve our differences.

"The press release references a June 2011 inspection: As an update on these alleged violations and proposed fines, our company has contested all of these citations and has entered into the resolution process with the Department of Labor.

"We are very proud of our history of creating over 600 manufacturing jobs in Houston while competing against aggressive, low-cost manufacturers from China and Taiwan. We are also proud to have achieved this while manufacturing has declined from 22% to 10% of the US economy and more US companies are sending manufacturing jobs overseas. In our 30+ year history, Piping Technology has succeeded by taking a long-term view and safety is and has always been one of our core values. We’ve never held back when it’s come to investing time or money to maintain the safety of our employees."

R. K. Agrawal
Phone: (713) 364-6821
Email: pr(at)pipingtech(dot)com

8:54 AM  

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