OSHA Proposes $236,000 in Penalties After Inspection of Birmingham Foundry

February 22, 2006

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited United States Pipe and Foundry and proposed penalties totaling $236,000 following an August 2005 “enhanced enforcement” inspection conducted at the company’s 30th Ave. N. plant in Birmingham, Alabama.

“Despite OSHA’s enforcement and outreach efforts, this company has continued to disregard their basic obligation under the Occupational Safety and Health Act,” said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA’s Birmingham area director.

OSHA’s enhanced enforcement policy focuses on employers who receive “high gravity” citations for violations at the highest level of severity. Under the policy, announced in 2003, OSHA may conduct inspections at employer worksites other than the one where the original high gravity citations were issued and may seek a variety of remedies including federal court enforcement of citations.

Sanchez explained that OSHA cited United States Pipe and Foundry following an investigation of a fatal accident in 2004 at the company’s Bessemer facility. A missing safety latch on an overhead crane directly contributed to that accident. During the enhanced enforcement inspection at the Birmingham facility, OSHA found a similar hazard and issued a repeat citation, with a proposed penalty of $25,000, for lack of a safety latch on an overhead crane.

OSHA issued an additional eight repeat citations, with proposed penalties totaling $152,500, for lack of eye wash facilities; unguarded floor openings; confined space and electrical hazards; lack of machinery guards, and improper storage of compressed gas cylinders.

The company, a subsidiary of Walters Industries, also received 19 serious citations, with proposed penalties totaling $58,500, for alleged safety and health hazards that exposed workers to falls, amputations, electrocutions, hearing loss, eye injuries and respiratory illnesses.

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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