Company Fined More Than $1.3 Million for Safety Violations

April 3, 2019

An Ohio metal heat treatment company faces $1.3 million in penalties for exposing workers to various potentially life-threatening hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed the penalties after uncovering numerous violations at the facility, including:

  • Atmospheric hazards – If the atmosphere in a confined space is toxic, combustible, or lacking oxygen, workers may suffer fatal injuries. Employers should follow the relevant general, shipyard, employment, or construction OSHA standards regarding confined spaces.
  • Thermal hazards – Occupational heat exposure can cause workers to develop heat-related health problems, many of which could have been prevented. Employers should implement engineering controls, such as insulation of hot surfaces, and provide workers with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Electrical hazards – According to OSHA, most electrical accidents occur due to unsafe equipment, environment, or work practices. To prevent these types of accidents, OSHA recommends using insulation, guarding, grounding, electrical protective devices, and following safety best practices.
  • Mechanical hazards – Moving machinery must be safeguarded to prevent crushed limbs, severed fingers, blindness, and other serious injuries. Proper lockout/tagout procedures must also be followed to prevent the release of hazardous energy.

OSHA Citations

The Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health explains that the violations described in the Notification of Penalty exposed workers to serious injuries and illnesses. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and the General Duty Clause of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, employers have a legal obligation to protect workers from exposure to recognized hazards that are likely to cause serious physical harm or death.

Many of the citations issued are also on OSHA’s Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards list for 2018, which pertained to:

  • Fall protection, construction
  • Hazard communication standard, general industry
  • Scaffolding, general requirements, construction
  • Respiratory protection, general industry
  • Control of hazardous energy, general industry
  • Ladders, construction
  • Powered industrial trucks, general industry
  • Fall protection
  • Machinery and machine guarding, general requirements
  • Eye and face protection

Severe Violator Enforcement Program

OSHA, the federal agency responsible for establishing and enforcing workplace safety and health standards, has placed the company on the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). The SVEP establishes enforcement policies and procedures for employers who commit willful, repeated violations, such as mandatory follow-up inspections, corporate-wide agreements, and even federal court enforcement. OSHA also issued the Ohio-based company 25 citations for violations relating to:

  • Confined spaces
  • Falls
  • Machine guarding
  • Respiratory protection
  • Chemical exposure
  • Electrical equipment
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Failure to provide training

The company has 15 business days from its receipt of the Citation and Notification of Penalty letter to either comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings by petitioning the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission (OSHRC) for review. After hearing evidence from both sides, the independent commission may either affirm, modify, or vacate the citations and penalties proposed by OSHA.

Reading Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Protect Workers’ Rights to a Safe Workplace

Pennsylvania employers have a duty to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. If you were injured on the job, contact a Reading workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, including payment for medical expenses and wage loss compensation. Our experienced attorneys proudly represent all types of workers in Philadelphia and throughout the state. For a free consultation, call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form.

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