For several years, inspections by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration identified a disturbing pattern of defective forklifts being used to move, handle, load and unload freight in at least 11 Central Transport LLC shipping terminals in nine states. Their use exposed employees to hazards that could cause crushing or struck-by injuries at multiple locations, including Central Transport’s Billerica terminal.
The department filed a complaint with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission in 2015, seeking an order to require Central Transport to remove damaged, defective and unsafe forklifts and other powered industrial trucks from service at all the company’s locations. Now, the department has secured a settlement agreement which commits the company to improving forklift safety at over 100 terminals in 26 states.
“These widespread, recurring hazards required a comprehensive solution,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “This settlement includes detailed steps and a timetable for Central Transport to systematically review, assess and improve safety for its employees at all its locations that come under OSHA’s jurisdiction. Other employers with hazards at multiple worksites should take heed of this settlement and recognize the value of implementing comprehensive and effective corrective action to protect the workers, life and limb.”
“We stated when we filed the complaint that safety cannot be addressed in a piecemeal fashion when employees are exposed to hazards at multiple company worksites. With this settlement, Central Transport has committed to taking proactive, ongoing and effective action to identify and eliminate these hazards and improve safety for its workers across the country,” said Michael Felsen, the department’s regional solicitor of labor in Boston.
The agreement requires Central Transport to hire an independent third party monitor to evaluate, update and improve the company’s existing procedures for preventive maintenance repairs, operator inspections and safe operation of powered industrial trucks.
Central Transport must also:
- Assign a corporate internal monitor to facilitate effective implementation of the settlement agreement, conduct random, unannounced visits of at least 20 terminals and work with the third party monitor to prepare and submit reports for each terminal assessed, seek employee feedback and monitor progress.
- Work with the third party monitor to assess and monitor compliance with the agreement and seek feedback from employees. This will include unannounced monitoring visits of at least 10 terminals by the third party monitor, including two terminals assessed by the internal monitor.
- Submit written compliance reports to OSHA and allow OSHA to conduct monitoring inspections to measure compliance.
- Remove any damaged, defective and unsafe powered industrial trucks from service.
- Pay a total of $165,400 in penalties.
The settlement covers Central Transport terminals in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin. OSHA will notify those states that have assumed authority for enforcing OSHA standards in which Central Transport has terminals and encourage them to honor or agree to the terms of this settlement.
Based in Warren, Michigan, Central Transport operates almost 200 customer service centers nationwide. OSHA’s Andover Area Office inspected the Billerica terminal. Scott M. Miller of the department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in Boston litigated the case for OSHA.
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