OSHA Proposes More Than $332,000 in Penalties at Birmingham Workplace

February 16, 2006

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited McWane Cast Iron Pipe for 38 safety and health hazards at the company’s Birmingham, Alabama plant. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $332,700.

In August, OSHA conducted comprehensive safety and health inspections at the facility under its site-specific targeting program that identifies workplaces with high rates of injuries and illnesses. The program is used to target inspections based on an annual survey of some 80,000 workplaces in high-hazard industries.

“The goal of site-specific targeting is to direct OSHA’s resources to those establishments with the highest injury and illness rates,” said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA’s area director in Birmingham.

OSHA issued 10 repeat citations, with proposed penalties of $242,700, against the company. Alleged violations included exposing workers to: silica above permissible levels; “struck by” injuries from improperly blocked and stacked pipes and from a ladle without safety latches that carried hot molten metal; unguarded machinery, electrical hazards and falls through unguarded floor openings and platforms.

The agency issues repeat citations when an employer has been cited previously for substantially similar conditions and the citations have become a final order of the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The company also received 28 serious citations, with proposed penalties of $90,000. Violations included exposing workers to noise and dust above permissible levels; electrical hazards from damaged equipment; improperly operated forklifts; inadequate lockout-tagout procedures and a front end loader that had been modified, contrary to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Serious citations are issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazards.

The company has 15 days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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