N.Y. Manufacturer Facing OSHA Fines

October 20, 2005

A cross section of safety and health hazards at a Hornell, N.Y., manufacturer and refurbisher of railroad cars has resulted in $130,500 in fines from the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Alstom Transportation Inc. was cited for a total of 17 alleged willful and serious violations of workplace safety and health standards at its Alstom Drive plant. The citations result from an OSHA inspection begun April 18 under OSHA’s site-specific targeting program which directs inspections to workplaces with illness and injury rates higher than the industry average.

Two willful citations, which account for $99,000 in fines, were issued for hazards involving large overhead cranes. The first citation concerned an employee exposed to falls of up to 45 feet due to his being required to climb over a crane wheel to access the crane’s cab; the second citation addressed the company’s failure to correct this and other unsafe conditions, including no load rating capacity and missing runway rail sweeps, identified during safety inspections of three cranes.

“Employees should not have been allowed to operate these cranes until these hazards had been fixed,” said Chris Adams, OSHA’s Syracuse area director. “Management knew these hazards existed, yet took no steps to correct them.”

OSHA’s inspection identified other hazards in the plant, including unguarded floors and runways; unguarded machinery; improper storage of compressed gas cylinders; storage of excess amounts of flammable liquids; electrical hazards; no eyewash where employees worked with corrosive liquids; employees exposed to excess levels of cadmium; and employees exposed to being struck by a high pressure water stream operating at 38,000 pounds per square inch. These resulted in the issuance of 15 serious citations and $31,500 in fines.

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. 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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