Job Hazards at La. Shipyard Bring OSHA Fines

June 24, 2005

A New Orleans shipyard’s alleged failure to protect employees from hazards has resulted in proposed penalties totaling $65,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Bollinger Gulf Repair was issued citations alleging 10 serious, two repeat and four other-than- serious violations following an OSHA inspection that began April 13 at the company’s New Orleans worksite as part of OSHA’s shipbuilding and repair industry “local emphasis program”.

“There are more than 90 shipbuilding facilities in Louisiana and OSHA is targeting companies with injury and illness rates greater than the industry average,” said Greg Honaker, OSHA area director in Baton Rouge. “OSHA will be looking at excessive noise levels, confined space entry hazards, fall and electrical hazards, exposure to airborne contaminants such as cadmium, nickel, chromium, zinc and iron metal fumes and other violations.”

The company employs 79 workers to repair barges at its New Orleans shipyard. With corporate headquarters in Lockport, La, the company operates 14 shipyards in South Louisiana and Texas.

The serious violations were issued for failing to: require an employee wear a seat belt while operating a rough terrain forklift; test the atmosphere of an enclosed space before employees enter; guard openings in the hull and on the barge deck; test and certify a crane; keep fire response equipment in a state of readiness; guard machines, and cover a high voltage panel. A serious violation is one that could cause death or serious physical harm to employees and the employer knew or should have known about the hazard.

The repeat citations were issued for failing to guard the edge of a deck, platform or flat and failing to provide safe access to a barge. A repeat violation is defined as a violation that was previously cited where, upon re-inspection, a substantially similar violation is found.

Other-than-serious violations included failing to: affix identification tags on steel slings; provide strain relief on an electrical connection; protect flexible cords and cables from accidental damage, and develop and implement a written fire safety plan. An other-than-serious violation is a hazard that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety or health of the employees.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Baton Rouge area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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