JC Stucco and Stone Inc. facing $235,700 in proposed penalties

climbing scaffoldMasonry contractor JC Stucco and Stone Inc. has been cited for three willful and three repeat safety violations. OSHA’s March 2014 inspection was initiated in response to a referral by the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections due to an imminent threat to worker health and safety at the site. The investigation found workers were exposed to fall hazards while applying stucco to the exterior of a residential construction site in Philadelphia. The proposed penalties total $235,700.

“This employer was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program in 2011 after multiple instances of repeated, high-gravity violations,” said Nicholas DeJesse, director of OSHA’s Philadelphia Area Office. “By refusing to provide the proper fall protection, this company is putting workers’ lives at risk. Falls are the leading cause of death in construction. Protecting workers from fall hazards must be a priority.”

The willful violations, carrying a $200,500 penalty, were cited for the company’s failure to use scaffolding with adequate bracing to prevent tipping or collapse and to provide fall protection for employees working up to a height of 32 feet. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls to lower levels accounted for 11 percent of all worker fatalities suffered in the Philadelphia area during 2012, the most recent year with available data. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

In addition, the agency issued repeat citations, with a $35,200 penalty, for additional scaffolding hazards, lack of training on fall dangers and the company’s failure to develop and implement a hazard communication program. The company was cited for similar violations in 2011 and 2012.

Citations can be viewed at: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/JCStuccoandStoneCitationPackage965013.pdf.

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Nearly $235K in penalties proposed

iStock_000003526780XSmallSupreme Oil Co.-South was cited for 14 safety and health violations following a March 2014 inspection at the company’s oil production facility Brundidge, Alabama. OSHA initiated the inspection due to a complaint and to complete a follow-up to a previous inspection it conducted in March 2012. Proposed penalties total $234,960. Since 1994, Supreme Oil has undergone 11 OSHA inspections conducted at its Alabama and New Jersey facilities. In 2012, the Alabama facility received citations for eight safety violations.

“Workers continue to be exposed to safety hazards, such as falls, unsafe forklift usage and amputation hazards. I am disappointed to see these violations present after they had been identified during an earlier inspection,” said Joseph Roesler, director of OSHA’s Mobile Area Office. “Companies with more than one facility need to understand that a repeat violation is not just based upon the history of the site where the original violation occurred, and it can be based upon any of their locations covered nationally by federal OSHA. OSHA requires companies to communicate with their facilities corporate wide to ensure hazards are addressed at all locations.”

OSHA issued the repeat citations for the employer’s failure to provide guardrails for staircases and open-sided platforms, maintain dry floors in areas where oil and water were mixed, and train workers to turn off machinery to prevent accidental startup while performing maintenance and services. Additionally, the employer exposed workers to being struck-by falling stock from damaged metal shelves, amputation and electrical hazards.

The serious citations were issued to the employer for exposing workers to electrical hazards from improperly labeled wiring and not providing workers with the required training to operate an industrial truck. The employer failed to develop procedures to prevent accidental startup and to identify the energy shut-off valves properly on machinery.

View the citations at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/supreme-oil-company-south-962780_09_10_14.pdf

Supreme Oil Co.-South, headquartered in Englewood, New Jersey, manufactures condiments, including salad dressing, mayonnaise, and liquid oils. The company employs approximately 86 workers at this facility and 450 workers at two additional sites.


Posted in Caught Between/Struck By, Electrical, Lockout/Tagout, OSHA, OSHA Inspections, Powered Industrial Trucks, Slips/Trips/Falls | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Prairie Ag Partners cited for 1 willful, 2 repeat, 8 serious violations

SONY DSCLAKE PRESTON, S.D. – A 51-year-old worker was fatally injured when he became engulfed in flowing grain in a railcar load-out elevator at Prairie Ag Partners. The incident occurred when the worker attempted to remove a jam from a chute while the auger operated. OSHA has cited the Lake Preston-company for one willful, two repeat and eight serious safety violations, many involving OSHA’s grain handling, permit-required confined space and fall protection safety regulations.

“A worker can be completely submerged in flowing grain within a matter of seconds. Allowing workers to move grain while machines are operating can cause the worker to become entangled in this dangerous equipment and become submerged. That is what happened in this case, and a worker paid with his life,” said Eric Brooks, OSHA’s area director in Bismarck. “If Prairie Ag Partners had followed basic safety standards, this tragic incident could have been prevented.”

OSHA’s inspection found that Prairie Ag Partners allowed employees inside the grain bin while the auger and conveyor systems operated, despite a comprehensive safety and health program in place that outlined how to keep workers safe in the grain bin. This resulted in a willful violation issued.

The company failed to complete a confined space entry permit before allowing workers to enter grain bins and to provide fall protection for workers exposed to falls of up to 60 feet while performing work activities around an unguarded floor opening in the main elevator shaft. OSHA regulations require fall protection for heights greater than 4 feet. Prairie Ag Partners was previously cited for these violations in 2010 at its Lake Preston and Oldham grain elevators.

OSHA issues repeat violations if an employer was previously cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

Additional citations were issued for other violations related to OSHA’s permit-required confined space regulations and grain handling standards. A confined space is one large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs, has limited or restricted means for entry or exit, and is not designed for continuous occupancy. OSHA found that Prairie Ag Partners failed to implement training and procedures for safe entry into the grain bin, including testing the atmosphere for the presence of combustible gases, vapors and toxic agents.

Prairie Ag Partners allowed grain bin dust to accumulate, which created a combustible dust hazard, and used equipment that provided a potential source of ignition for combustible dust. Other equipment lacked machine guarding, and the company failed to ensure the use of protective equipment, such as body harnesses with a lifeline, while employees performed required work operations in grain elevators.

Prairie Ag Partners has been issued proposed penalties of $120,120 and was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. To view current citations, visit http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/PrairieAgPartners_963718.pdf.

Prairie Ag Partners employs about 60 workers and operates an agriculture company encompassing multiple departments throughout the South Dakota area. Grain departments are located in Arlington, Bancroft, Lake Preston and Oldham, and agronomy and feed departments are located in Arlington and Lake Preston.

OSHA’s National Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities focuses on the grain and feed industry’s six major hazards. OSHA has published information related to common grain industry hazards and fixes, proper bin entry techniques, sweep auger use and other grain-related topics.

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Mezger Enterprises Ltd. cited for 27 violations with fines totaling $234,900

ear plugsAUSTIN, Texas – Cut limestone manufacturer Mezger Enterprises Ltd. has been cited by OSHA for 27 safety and health violations, including two willful. The company exposed workers to unguarded machines, unsafe electrical equipment, infrequent crane inspections and noise levels that could cause hearing loss at its Kempner facility. Proposed penalties total $234,900.

OSHA’s Austin Area Office initially conducted a health inspection in March 2014 as part of the agency’s Regional Emphasis Program for Noise. A referral was then made for a safety inspection to address machine guarding concerns. That inspection was expanded to include overhead cranes and other safety concerns.

“Employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful working environments, and this inspection found Mezger Enterprises woefully short in meeting their responsibilities,” said Casey Perkins, OSHA’s area director in Austin. “Failing to inspect cranes, maintain electrical equipment in a safe condition, guard cutting machines and ensure hearing protection for workers is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

With a penalty of $126,000, the two willful violations were cited for failure to conduct hearing tests for workers exposed to noise levels exceeding 90 decibels; in this case, exposures ranged up to 99 decibels averaged over the eight-hour workday and failure to guard large, circular stone saws; a hazard that could result in severe injury or death. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Twenty-three (23) serious violations, carrying a penalty of $108,000, were cited for failure to provide proper sanitation, guard machines, inspect cranes, and repair electrical hazards.

Two other violations, with a $900 fine, were cited for failure to maintain the injury and illness logs and provide workers with the respiratory protection standard’s Appendix D for voluntary use of respirator devices.

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/MezgerEnterprises_964291_0911_14.pdf and http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/MezgerEnterprises_963570_0911_14.pdf.

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by Dwayne Towles

On September 11th, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their preliminary results of the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries for 2013.  There is some good news in the numbers:  2013 has a preliminary total of 4,405 fatal work injuries vs. 4,628 in 2012.  The fatality rate dropped from 3.4 per 100,000 workers in 2012 to 3.2 per 100,000 in 2013.  While these numbers always tend to creep upward by the time the final report is issued next spring, we did see a reduction in the total cases from 2012.

Some of the key findings:

  • Private industry saw a 6% reduction in the number of work-related fatalities from 2012.  The count of 3,929 fatal injuries is the lowest annual total since the Census was first conducted in 1992.
  • There was a 7% rise in Hispanic and Latino worker deaths, with a total of 797 fatalities.
  • Work-related suicides were up 8% from 2012.  However, work-related homicides were 16% lower than 2012.  Even so, workplace violence accounts for one out of every six fatal injuries in 2013.
  • Fatal work-related injuries among self-employed workers were down 16% from 1,057 in 2012 to 892 in 2013.
  • Fatal transportation incidents were lowered by 10% in 2013, but still account for 40% of all work-related fatalities.

Fatalities by Event-2013












            Click the image of a larger view

Read the full report.


Posted in Injury Prevention, Statistics, Transportation Safety, Uncategorized, Workplace Violence | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

by Laura Dietrich, CPE

Portrait of business woman with back pain in officeIf you are experiencing back pain while sitting at your desk, you are not alone.  Back pain is the most common reason for missing work.  A recent survey found that 8 out of 10 people experienced some form of back pain in the last year.  The most important thing to remember is to not give up on finding a way to reduce the pain.  The fix often turns out to be a combination of changes and may require multiple improvements before the right mix is found.

If you have already adjusted your chair to its proper position but are still having back pain, here are a few ‘out of the box’ ideas you may not have tried:

Add Hourly Movement to Your Agenda

A recent study found that sitting for just two hours per day increases your risk for many of the chronic health problems we are facing today.  In addition, decreasing the amount of time you sit has a direct correlation with a decrease in back pain.  In an effort to be as efficient as possible, people will often sit stationary for three to four hours before getting up.  Changing that paradigm so that being more efficient means getting up regularly is the first step to reducing back pain.  So, add to your daily agenda the habit of getting up approximately every hour and moving your body.  Even something as simple as going to talk with a co-worker in person versus sending an email will help to increase blood flow to your back and relax muscles that have been held statically for the past hour.  There are many free computer apps (PC Work Break, Big Stretch Reminder, and Workrave, to name a few) you can install that act as a reminder to get up and move.  They can also be programmed to pause your computer to force you take a break!

Try Out an Exercise Ball Chair

If used correctly, an exercise ball chair allows for small movement while sitting and helps increase blood flow and decrease fatigue.  The key to using this style of chair is to insure that the lower lumbar curve is maintained while sitting.  The temptation is to allow your back to slump while using the ball, which can lead to pain.  When sitting on the ball chair, subtle bouncing movement occurs.  These movements aid circulation and help decrease muscle tightness.  The cost of the chair is very reasonable and definitely worth a try.

Strap on a Pedometer

Increasing total body movement can offer a wide range of health benefits from weight loss and better sleep to a decrease in back pain.  Strapping on a pedometer can help motivate people to increase their amount of walking.  There is even a free app (Footsteps Pedometer Free) that downloads a pedometer right to your smart phone.  A good starting goal is 10,000 steps per day which sounds like a lot but can really impact your overall health.

Try a Sit/Stand Desk

One really effective tool that many people have found to be helpful in eliminating back pain is a sit/stand module.  Your computer monitor and keyboard is placed on a stand that can either be used at desk level or raised so you can type while in the standing position.  Lumbar disc pressure is higher when sitting compared to standing; therefore, performing your work in a standing position lowers the overall pressure on the disc.  This is a great concept that allows a person to choose when and for how long to sit or stand. The models vary greatly in cost and complexity, but a simple stand that is manually adjustable costs between $300 and $600.  If you do purchase the module and plan to stand the majority of the day, I recommend that an anti-fatigue matting be placed on your standing surface to increase comfort.

Consider a Treadmill Desk

Missed your early morning workout?  Not to worry because now, if your monitor is on a treadmill desk, you can read your email while walking.  While it sounds challenging, companies such as the FBI, Dell, and Google have their employees use them and report an increase in productivity.  The desks can be pricey (in the neighborhood of $4,500), so you may want to try out the concept before actually purchasing a treadmill desk.

Try Yoga or a Massage

Developing a regular habit of yoga can help reduce muscle tightness and help increase blood flow to the spine.  Many people find relief from back pain through the gentle flow of yoga poses.  Yoga classes are now found in most gyms and are relatively inexpensive.  If you prefer to do yoga on your own schedule, there are many free websites available (try Yogamazing for back pain).  Many people who experience chronic back pain find they see quick results after just a few classes; it is definitely worth giving yoga a try.

Massage can provide rapid relief from back pain.  Many companies now offer in-house chair massages to assist their employees in relaxing tired back muscles.  A simple 30-minute back massage can help increase blood flow to back muscles and to loosen tight muscles surrounding the spine which can cause pain.  While massage can be expensive, the results are definitely worth the investment.

So . . . don‘t give up looking for relief from your back pain.  Sometimes it takes trying something completely different to find relief!

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copper mineDuring the first half of 2014, 22 miners were killed in accidents in the mining industry. Fourteen died in metal and nonmetal mining accidents and eight died in coal mining accidents. The toll represents an increase in the mid-year fatality count and reverses a decline in fatal accidents seen in recent years as MSHA and the mining industry worked together to improve mine safety. In May, MSHA launched a number of efforts, including outreach with stakeholders and trainers and utilizing the agency’s training and enforcement tools to counteract the spike in mining deaths, particularly in the metal and nonmetal sector.  In the second quarter of the year alone, 14 miners died – 5 in coal and 9 in metal/nonmetal.

MSHA has undertaken a number of measures to prevent mining deaths, injuries and illnesses: increased surveillance and strategic enforcement through impact inspections at mines with troubling compliance histories; enhanced pattern of violations actions; special initiatives such as “Rules to Live By,” which focuses attention on the most common causes of mining deaths; and outreach efforts. MSHA knows it takes the efforts of all in the mining industry to improve mine safety and health.

Miners deserve a safe and healthful workplace and MSHA is committed to doing everything possible to make that happen.

Read the full analysis here.

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Accident Report formUnder the Federal OSHA program previously, employers had to report the following events to OSHA:

  • All work-related fatalities
  • All work-related hospitalizations of three or more employees

In 2015, employers will have to report the following events to OSHA:

  • All work-related fatalities
  • All work-related in-patient hospitalizations of one or more employees
  • All work-related amputations
  • All work-related losses of an eye

Employers must report work-related fatalities within 8 hours of finding out about it. For any in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss, employers must report the incident within 24 hours of learning about it.

Only fatalities occurring within 30 days of the work-related incident must be reported to OSHA. Further, for an inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye, incidents must be reported to OSHA only if they occur within 24 hours of the work-related incident.

Employers have three options for reporting the event:

  1. By telephone to the nearest OSHA Area Office during normal business hours.
  2. By telephone to the 24-hour OSHA hotline (1-800-321-OSHA or 1-800-321-6742).
  3. OSHA is developing a new means of reporting events electronically, which will be released soon and accessible on OSHA’s website.

Various State OSHA programs currently have different reporting rules.  With this new rule all State programs are encouraged to be at least as stringent as the new federal rule.  On another note, during a teleconference on the rule revisions, OSHA representatives also announced that the agency plans to make all employer reports of work-related fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations, or eye losses publicly available on OSHA’s website.  It is also a common belief that because OSHA will be notified of more workplace injuries at the time of the incident, the new reporting requirements will most likely result in increased enforcement activity by OSHA, more OSHA inspections, and more citations issued by OSHA.


Posted in OSHA, Recordkeeping | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

iStock_000013856658XSmall car on hoistScenario: You are the Risk Manager for a large auto dealership and service/repair garage group.  Over the past few months, you have heard about a couple serious injuries that have occurred in auto service garages and you decide you want to increase your focus on safety and begin developing Job Hazard Analyses for the routine vehicle maintenance activities.  As these are developed, you realize the employees are being exposed to various forms of hazardous energy and you begin to believe that the implementation of the OSHA Control of Hazard Energy (Lockout/Tagout) standard may help eliminate, or at least mitigate, the hazards to which they are being exposed.  When you present this plan to the owner of the dealership group, you are told that this has not been industry practice in the past and he doesn’t believe the OSHA standard includes this industry group.  He is not going to commit to the implementation of such a program unless you can show him that this standard does apply to servicing and maintaining automobiles.

Question:  Does the OSHA standard 29cfr1910.147 “Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout)” apply to the service and maintenance of automobiles?

Answer: OSHA Directive CPL 02-00-147 “The Control of Hazardous Energy – Enforcement Policy and Inspection Procedure” states some machines and equipment covered by the control of hazardous energy standard include automotive repair, service, and garage machinery and equipment, including automobiles, trucks, material handling equipment, tire repair machines, hoisting equipment, automotive lifts.

The Directive Chapter 3 Section III titled Vehicle Hazardous Energy Control states “Serious injuries and death have occurred and continue to occur from inadequate hazardous energy control during vehicle servicing and maintenance activities. In 1991, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia remanded the LOTO standard to OSHA for further consideration of the ways in which the final rule applies to all general industry workplaces. OSHA, in the March 30, 1993 Federal Register (Vol. 58, No. 59), reaffirmed and further explained the reasons for applying the standard to vehicle servicing and maintenance. The scope and application sections of the preamble to the hazardous energy control standard provide that the LOTO standard applies to all “general industry workplaces.” The standard’s coverage includes vehicles, such as, but not limited to, automobiles, trucks, tractors, refrigeration transport vehicles, and material handling equipment.

This section clearly defines what OSHA believes could be hazardous energy for purposes of vehicle servicing and maintenance.  It requires employers to develop an energy control program that is tailored to the workplace and will protect employees performing servicing and maintenance tasks from the release of hazardous energy.

One comment in the directive states that it should be noted that turning off the engine and removing the car key is not, strictly speaking, the same as applying a lockout or tagout device to an energy isolating device because neither the ignition switch, nor the key, are energy-isolating devices. OSHA allows the key removal practice only when the key removal fully ensures employee protection.

Posted in Injury Prevention, Lockout/Tagout, OSHA Interpretations, Safety Quiz | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Big changes on when to notify OSHA about an injury

OSHA Form 300

On September 11, 2014, while most of us were honoring the 13-year anniversary  of 9/11, OSHA announced a final rule requiring employers to notify OSHA when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye. The rule, which also updates the list of employers partially exempt from OSHA record-keeping requirements, will go into effect on January 1, 2015, for workplaces under federal OSHA jurisdiction.

The announcement follows preliminary results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2013 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

“Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4,405 workers were killed on the job in 2013. We can and must do more to keep America’s workers safe and healthy,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Workplace injuries and fatalities are absolutely preventable, and these new requirements will help OSHA focus its resources and hold employers accountable for preventing them.”

Under the revised rule, employers will be required to notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within eight hours, and work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours. Previously, OSHA’s regulations required an employer to report only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye was not required under the previous rule.

All employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, even those who are exempt from maintaining injury and illness records, are required to comply with OSHA’s new severe injury and illness reporting requirements. To assist employers in fulfilling these requirements, OSHA is developing a Web portal for employers to report incidents electronically, in addition to the phone reporting options.

“Hospitalizations and amputations are sentinel events, indicating that serious hazards are likely to be present at a workplace and that an intervention is warranted to protect the other workers at the establishment,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

In addition to the new reporting requirements, OSHA has also updated the list of industries that, due to relatively low occupational injury and illness rates, are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep injury and illness records. The previous list of exempt industries was based on the old Standard Industrial Classification system and the new rule uses the North American Industry Classification System to classify establishments by industry. The new list is based on updated injury and illness data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The new rule maintains the exemption for any employer with 10 or fewer employees, regardless of their industry classification, from the requirement to routinely keep records of worker injuries and illnesses.

For more information about the new rule, visit OSHA’s website at http://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping2014.


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