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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.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Last Week's OSHA Significant Citations

OSHA defines a significant citation as one with more than $100,000 in proposed fines. An OSHA citation is a claim by OSHA that there has been a safety violation. It does not mean a violation has taken place, nor that the violation is as severe as claimed. The company has 15 days to contest OSHA claims. The following are the citations OSHA announced last week that have total fines greater than $100,000.

Following Complaint, Inspection Results In Fines For Post Office ($144,000)
OSHA cites US Minerals For Repeat LOTO and Fall Violations ($195,470)
17 Safety and Health Violations at Veterans Medical Facility ($153,000)


The U.S. Postal Service facility in Champaign, Illinois has been cited by OSHA for eight safety violations resulting in proposed fines of $144,000. The citations are the result of a complaint inspection in June that found a lack of both energy control procedures and fall protection at the facility.

OSHA's inspection found that the workers, who scanned mail and placed it on a conveyor to be dumped into the appropriate bag or container, had been instructed to only push an e-stop before clearing jams. The workers are not trained or authorized to lockout equipment to prevent the unintentional operation of the conveyor while clearing jams, which may expose them to laceration and amputation hazards. Operators may occasionally remove a panel, access an overhead conveyor or use a shepherd's hook to clear the jam.

Four repeat safety violations were cited, plus several other violations. These included failing to:
  • conduct periodic inspections of all energy control procedures
  • ensure energy devices were operated in a manner to isolate the equipment from the energy source
  • ensure that a lockout or tagout device was affixed to each device by authorized employees
  • protect workers from falls while clearing jams on an overhead conveyor
  • ensure that risers were uniform in height on all stairways.
A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were cited in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 at Postal Service facilities in Colorado Springs, Colo.; Des Moines, Iowa; Cape Girardeau, Mo.; Greensboro, N.C., Lewistown, Mont.; and Elgin, S.C.

Three serious violations involved:
  • lack of appropriate guarding on conveyors to prevent packages from falling off the conveyor
  • failing to ensure that employees were adequately trained in the purpose and use of energy control procedures
  • a lack of stair railings on each open side of a stairway.
A violation is noted as serious 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.

To view the current citations, visit:
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/US_Postal_Service_917645_0107_14.pdf

One other-than-serious violation was cited for failing to ensure that the certification of the periodic inspection of energy control procedures included the name of the employees included in the inspection. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

The Postal Service employs about 434,000 personnel nationwide and 294 at the Postal Service facility in Champaign.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


U.S. Minerals LLC in Baldwin, Illinois has been cited for six safety violations by OSHA for failing to provide fall protection, personal protective equipment and to implement procedures to control hazardous energy. The company faces $195,470 in penalties after a July 2013 inspection found repeat violations at the Baldwin facility.

"U.S. Minerals continues to expose workers to hazards associated with energy control procedures, including willfully violating lockout and tagout procedures and exposing workers to amputation hazards,"
said Thomas Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria. "U.S. Minerals repeatedly has been cited at this facility and others for failing to protect workers from these hazards. OSHA is committed to ensuring employers abide by the law, which requires common-sense safety practices that U.S. Minerals must follow."

Two willful violations were cited during this inspection. One was for failing to have guards on standard railings, which exposed workers to fall hazards of up to 40 feet. The second was for the company's failure to ensure that lockout/tagout procedures were applied to prevent the unexpected start-up of equipment while employees performed service and maintenance.

Three repeat violations were cited for failing to:
  • develop, document and utilize procedures for servicing equipment where more than one employee was performing tasks
  • conduct an annual inspection of energy control procedures
  • ensure that each authorized employee affixed a lockout device to energy isolating devices prior to performing service and maintenance
A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. U.S. Minerals was cited for this violation at the Baldwin plant in 2010.

Additionally, one serious violation was issued for failing to provide personal protective equipment that would prevent falls by employees working on top of equipment. 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.

The current citations can be viewed at:
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/USMineralsInc_918329_0107_14.pdf

Following an inspection in June 2010, OSHA issued a $466,400 penalty to the company's Baldwin facility in September of that year, citing 35 health and safety violations for willfully exposing workers to dangerously high levels of hazardous dust and failing to provide adequate breathing protection.

As a result of the conditions found in Baldwin, OSHA initiated inspections of the company's three other facilities. At the company's location in Coffeen, OSHA issued 28 health and safety citations in December 2010. In November 2010, the company's operation in Harvey, La., was cited for 30 violations, while its Galveston, Texas, facility was cited for 38 violations.

U.S. Minerals was placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program in December 2010. The program focuses on employers with a history of safety violations that endanger workers by demonstrating indifference to their responsibilities under the law. This enforcement tool includes mandatory OSHA follow-up inspections and inspections of other work sites of the same employer where similar hazards and deficiencies may be present.

U.S. Minerals LLC, with headquarters in Dyer, Ind., manufactures abrasive blasting and roofing materials from slag produced at coal-fired power plants.


OSHA has issued a notice of unsafe and unhealthful working conditions for 17 violations found during inspections of a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility in White City, Oregon. OSHA began the inspections in April as a part of a Local Emphasis Program, which includes the Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics. OSHA's Portland Area Office has conducted 15 inspections of VA medical facilities in Oregon in the last five years, resulting in 20 repeat and 39 serious violations.

OSHA issued notices for 10 serious violations including:
  • lack of adequate controls for infectious disease
  • inadequate exposure control plan, which potentially exposed transitional work employees to bloodborne pathogens
  • lack of access to rapid HIV tests after occupational exposures
  • improperly stored sharps containers
  • accumulations of flammable materials
  • negligence in maintaining facilities
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.

Five repeat safety violations were also identified.
  • Not having reviewed or updated its annual bloodborne pathogens exposure control plan to determine if safer medical devices could have replaced existing devices not equipped with inherent safety features.
  • Employees were found administering treatments without the appropriate personal protection equipment.
  • Lack of training in the use of powered industrial trucks.
  • Lack of protective barriers from steam lines.
  • Unguarded saw blades.
Veteran's Affairs Facility, White City, Oregon
A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

"The serious and recurring nature of the violations warrant concern,"
said Andrea J. Reid, acting director of OSHA's Portland Area Office. "These hazards demonstrate a need for a renewed commitment by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a consistently safe workplace, beginning with adequate annual reviews of safety and health programs."

As required by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, federal agencies must comply with the same safety standards as private sector employers. The federal agency equivalent to a private-sector "citation" is a notice of unsafe and unhealthful working conditions, informing agency officials of OSHA violations and citable program elements of 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1960 - Elements for Federal Employee Occupational Safety and Health Programs.

Unlike the private sector, OSHA does not impose penalties to federal agencies. However, the equivalent private-sector penalty for these violations would be $153,000. The medical center has 15 business days from receipt of OSHA's notice to comply or request an informal conference with OSHA's Area Director.


Related Past Posts:
Significant OSHA Citations - Forever 21 Cited
More Than $630,000 In Fines
OSHA End Of December Citations

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