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OSHA ENFORCEMENT & PENALTIES

IN THIS ISSUE:

 Steel Plant Ignores Hazards.  A steel plant exposed immigrant workers to numerous safety hazards.

 Whistleblower Unlawfully Fired.  A commercial driver was fired for reporting safety concerns to his employer.

 Unusual Response to Citations.  A food manufacturer negotiated a pre-citation settlement with OSHA. 

Steel Plant Exposes Immigrant Workers to Safety Hazards

A steel manufacturer, St. Louis Cold Drawn Inc., faces $366,300 in proposed fines for exposing immigrant workers to amputation, electrical and other hazards. An investigation by OSHA found two “willful,” seven “repeated” and 22 “serious” safety violations at one of the company’s steel plants.

During its investigation, OSHA discovered that the plant’s workforce predominantly consisted of individuals who had immigrated to the United States from Asia. Although these workers had limited English-speaking skills, St. Louis Cold Drawn did not provide them with adequate, comprehensible safety training. Inspectors also found that a worker was fired after he spoke with OSHA officials, and another was terminated for alerting management to safety hazards.

The plant’s numerous hazards have led to severe injuries, including the amputation of a finger as a result of unguarded machine parts. Currently, there is a National Emphasis Program (NEP) on amputations; the NEP targets workplaces with machinery and equipment that is capable of causing amputations as well as workplaces where amputations have occurred.

The best way to avoid costly OSHA violations is to maintain the safety of your facility and workers before an issue arises. Contact William Blount & Associates today; we can provide you with industry-specific resources you can use to ensure that your business meets OSHA safety standards.

 

OSHA Rules Against Motor Carrier for Terminating Whistleblower

OSHA recently ruled that Brindi Trailer Sales and Services Inc., a New York-based commercial motor carrier, violated the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) when the company’s owner wrongfully terminated a driver. The driver had reported various truck safety concerns to his manager but was ignored and eventually fired. Now, the company must pay the driver over $45,000 for lost wages and punitive damages.

According to OSHA’s report, the case started when the commercial vehicle driver noticed safety issues with his truck, including ineffective brakes, non-functioning turn signals, a cracked windshield and more. Brindi Trailer Sales and Services refused to fix any of the safety issues. This prompted the driver to contact the local Department of Transportation (DOT) office, and a DOT inspection of the truck found 16 safety violations. When Brindi Trailer Sales and Services learned of the inspection, the driver was terminated.

Under the STAA and other federal legislation, businesses are prohibited from retaliating against employees who share protected concerns or information with their employers or the government. For more information on employee whistleblower rights, visit the government’s resource website at https://whistleblower.gov.

 

Manufacturer Negotiates Settlement Before OSHA Citations

OSHA has praised Schwan’s Global Supply Inc., an Atlanta-based frozen food manufacturer, for its decision to make a pre-citation settlement agreement with the agency.

During a tour of one of the manufacturer’s facilities, OSHA inspectors found safety and health violations which resulted from a failure to complete the following safety precautions:

·      Ensure that workers use safety procedures to prevent unexpected machine startup during maintenance

·      Ensure machinery is properly guarded to prevent amputations

·      Train workers, technicians and first responders on emergency action plans

In response to the violations, the management of Schwan’s Global Supply accepted responsibility for the violations and contacted OSHA to reach a settlement.

Under the settlement, the manufacturer will pay a $100,000 fine and commit to extensive safety and training enhancements. These measures include hiring a third-party safety consultant, conducting new training procedures for workers and meeting with OSHA officials quarterly to discuss the company’s safety and health status. 
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