OSHA Cites N.Y. Manufacturer for Safety Hazards

March 9, 2005

A Cohoes, N.Y., insulation manufacturer’s reported failure to safeguard workers against a wide range of safety and health hazards has resulted in $134,750 in proposed penalties from the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Shelter Enterprises Inc., of 8 Saratoga Ave., has been cited for a total of 18 alleged willful, serious and other-than-serious violations of health and safety standards.

“Strong enforcement is a key part of OSHA’s efforts to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses,” said the agency’s Albany Area Director John Tomich. “The significant penalty of $134,750 in this case demonstrates our commitment to protecting the health and safety of America’s workers.

OSHA began it’s inspection of the company’s plant on Aug. 23, 2004, after learning that three employees had been hurt in a scaffolding accident at the facility Saturday, Aug. 21. The inspection found that employees had not received training in the use of forklift trucks and were exposed to possible injury from the accidental startup of machinery during maintenance. This was due to the lack of specific procedures for safely shutting down the machines and locking out their power sources before working on them and lack of training in these procedures.

The inspection also found that Shelter Enterprises did not have a hazard communication program to inform and train employees about the chemicals with which they worked.

As a result, the company was issued three willful citations with a proposed penalty of $115,500. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

OSHA also issued 12 serious citations to the company with a total proposed penalty of $19, 250. Alleged violations included using an improper platform on the forks of a forklift; modifying a forklift without the manufacturer’s approval; allowing employees’ arms and legs to extend outside the running lines of the forklift and unstable loads on the forklift.

Other serious citations were issued for fall hazards from incomplete standard railings and lack of a fall arrest system while loading flatbed trucks, an unsecured door at the freight elevator, lack of bonding and grounding of flammable liquids, lack of directional exit signs, obstruction in the exit access, and lack of machine guarding. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm are likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations 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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