The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has resumed regular enforcement in 18 Florida counties affected by Hurricane Ian, the agency announced January 24.
In the hurricane’s aftermath, the agency suspended most programmed enforcement actions in Brevard, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, and Volusia counties. During the enforcement pause, OSHA offered technical assistance, removing more than 3,800 employees from hazards in 950 interventions. Agency staff also educated more than 8,000 recovery workers on how to protect themselves from the hazards they faced, collaborating with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network to provide worker training in Spanish, conducting an OSHA 10-hour course, and handing out personal protective equipment (PPE) and compliance assistance publications in the hardest-hit areas.
“While OSHA has resumed regular enforcement operations in areas affected by Hurricane Ian, we will continue to assist employers and workers in those isolated areas that suffered the brunt of the storm,” Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s Atlanta regional administrator, said in an agency statement.
“As these areas continue their recoveries toward normal operations, we will monitor these areas closely.”
Postal service facing $350K in OSHA fines
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) faces $350,136 in proposed OSHA penalties for four serious and four other-than-serious violations at facilities in Columbia, Knoxville, and Nashville, Tennessee, OSHA announced January 25.
OSHA inspectors determined the USPS exposed workers to crushing, electrical, fire, struck-by, and other health hazards at the Columbia Post Office, Knoxville Processing and Distribution Center, and Music City Annex in Nashville.
Unsafe conditions identified during OSHA’s inspections included:
- A missing guard/cover on a mail processing machine that exposed workers to an energized electric motor and other energized parts;
- Flexible cords and power strips used in place of fixed electrical wiring and overloaded circuits, exposing workers to electrical hazards;
- Employees without required training and evaluation needed to operate a powered industrial truck;
- Employees not wearing seatbelts as they operated forklifts on the loading dock, which exposed them to crushed-by hazards if the forklift tipped over;
- Forklifts that lacked working strobe lights and backup alarms and other forklifts needing repairs that remained in service; and
- Backed-up sewers that left raw sewage on restroom floors and in work areas.
The agency also issued a written notice to the USPS for having a safety incentive program that awards workers who are accident-free. Such programs can discourage workers from reporting accidents and injuries.
“The U.S. Postal Service’s high operational tempo is not a reason to bypass or ignore long-established safety standards,” William Cochran, OSHA’s Nashville, Tennessee, area director, said in an agency statement. “If anything, it’s a reason to place greater emphasis on ensuring its workers are protected from recognized hazards and have every opportunity to avoid potential life-altering injuries.”
2 Ohio manufacturers facing 6-figure OSHA fines
Two Ohio manufacturers are facing six-figure OSHA fines following separate industrial accidents that killed one worker and severely injured others, the agency announced January 25.
TimkenSteel Corporation faces proposed penalties totaling $145,027 after OSHA cited the employer for one willful violation of the agency’s General Duty Clause. Three furnace attendants working at TimkenSteel’s Faircrest plant in Canton suffered severe injuries on July 26, 2022, in an explosion of an electric arc furnace after water became encapsulated in molten metal. All three workers were hospitalized, and one died on August 19.
Globe Metallurgical, Inc., of Beverly, Ohio, faces proposed penalties totaling $188,533 for one willful violation of the General Duty Clause for its failure to provide a safe working environment and three serious safety violations.
On July 10, 2022, the combination of water with tons of superheated material spilling onto the foundry floor at Globe Metallurgical’s facility in Waterford caused a steam explosion that severely injured a supervisor, who suffered third-degree burns.
Agency investigators learned that employees were pouring molten material into a large ladle for cast forms when the material burned through the bottom of the ladle and about 8,000 pounds of molten material, heated to nearly 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, spilled. Employees responded by spraying water on the spill and using a forklift to try to break up the material when an explosion occurred.
“A company this size should be acutely aware of industry regulations that protect workers who handle molten materials and the required procedures for responding safely to emergencies,” Larry Johnson, OSHA’s Columbus, Ohio, area director, said in an agency statement.