Worker Death at St. Thomas Plant Leads to Fines

September 20, 2005

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Caricement USVI Corp., for 37 alleged willful, serious and other-than-serious safety and health violations following the March 9 death of a worker at the company’s St. Thomas cement plant. OSHA has proposed $273,500 in fines. The employee died after being caught in an unguarded screw conveyor.

OSHA reportedly found that several screw conveyors were not grated or otherwise guarded against employee contact with their moving parts; an open pit was unguarded; and procedures were not developed and utilized to prevent the accidental startup of machinery during maintenance.

Three willful citations, carrying $180,000 in proposed fines, were issued for these conditions. 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.

“Management knew these specific safeguards were required, yet did not supply them,” said Jose Carpena, OSHA’s area director for the Caribbean. “Had safety standards been complied with, this fatal accident could have been prevented.”

OSHA also issued 34 serious and other-than-serious citations, with $93,500 in proposed fines, for other unsafe conditions in the plant. These include hazards related to falls; work in confined spaces; machine guarding; electrical equipment; respirators; noise and hearing conservation; hazard communication; lockout/tagout; fire extinguishers; compressed gas storage; personal protective equipment and clothing; an above ground diesel tank; a compressed air hose; and failing to record workplace injuries and illnesses.

A serious violation is a condition where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee. An other-than-serious violation is a condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.

Caricement has 15 business days from receipt of its citations 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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