Conn. Airplane Parts Manufacturer Facing OSHA Fines

February 16, 2005

Connecticut-based Smiths Aerospace Components faces $116,000 in fines from the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for safety and health hazards at its 255 Sheldon Rd. plant in Manchester, Conn.

The airplane components manufacturer was cited for 23 alleged repeat and serious safety and health violations following inspections begun Aug. 15, 2004, under OSHA’s site specific targeting program which focuses on workplaces with higher than average lost workday injuries.

“Strong enforcement is a key part of OSHA’s efforts to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses,” said Marthe Kent, OSHA’s regional administrator in Boston. “The significant penalty of $116,000 in this case demonstrates our commitment to protecting the health and safety of America’s workers.”

OSHA’s inspections reportedly identified instances where safety interlocks were bypassed on mechanical power presses, exposing employees to being caught in the presses’ moving parts; improper dispensing of flammable liquids; unauthorized modification of forklift trucks; unanchored and uninspected machinery; ungrounded electrical equipment and outlets; inadequate cleaning and storage of respirators; lack of personal protective equipment; unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals; excess air pressure in a cleaning hose; and deficiencies in the plant’s hearing conservation, bloodborne pathogen and hazardous energy control programs.

Since OSHA had cited the plant for similar hazards in 2004, these citations were classified as repeat violations and carry $98,500 in proposed fines. OSHA issues a repeat citation when an employer has previously been cited for substantially similar hazards and those citations have become final.

Additional hazards found during the inspection included failure to dispose of combustible material daily; unauthorized electrical equipment in a paint spray area; unsecured compressed gas cylinders; misused electrical equipment, and several additional instances of unguarded machinery.

These conditions resulted in the issuance of nine serious citations, with $17,500 in proposed fines. OSHA defines a serious violation as a condition where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee.

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

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