La. Contractor Fined Nearly $180K for Safety Violations

May 10, 2006

Federal regulators fined a Louisiana contractor $179,900 for alleged safety violations connected to the amputation of a worker’s legs in November 2005.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Merrick Construction Co., of Cottonport, La., for 17 alleged violations found during an inspection.

Merrick Construction has 15 working days after receiving the citations to comply or contest the penalties.

A message left by the Associated Press at Merrick Construction’s Louisiana offices May 8 wasn’t immediately returned.

Inspectors visited the company’s Atlanta worksite after a 19-year-old worker was injured while performing maintenance on a tire shredding machine.

The company reclaims rubber from tires for inclusion with asphalt and performs highway construction.

“Hazardous conditions in the workplace had been brought to this employer’s attention by a number of employees and yet this employer took no action to safeguard workers,” said Kathryn Delaney, OSHA area director in Dallas. “If the company had followed OSHA standards, it is possible the injuries sustained by this young man, as well as others, could have been avoided.”

Two of the violations were considered willful and cite failure to provide lockout procedures for equipment during maintenance and failure to train workers.

Other serious violations outlined by OSHA included failing to repair brakes on heavy equipment, safeguard employees against falls from elevated equipment, guard moving parts on machinery, protect employees from electrical hazards and protect employees from exposure to blood-borne diseases.

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