OSHA Fines Reach $5 Million in First Quarter of 2019

Industrial / Construction, Material Handling / Crane, Personal Protective Equipment, Safety News

Federal OSHA has released details on 20 significant fines (over $100,000) totaling $4,992,945 from January to March 2019. The highest single penalty in the 1st quarter was $1.3 million, and the top 5 fines accounted for more than $2.5 million. Common citations included machine and dust hazards, trenches and machine guards. Here are details on the highest OSHA fines proposed in the first quarter. Many are still pending final decisions.

$1.3 Million and SVEP for willful hazard exposures at an Ohio metal treatment company

OSHA proposed penalties of $1,326,367 to Dowa THT America Inc. after the company exposed employees to atmospheric, thermal, electrical and mechanical hazards as they performed maintenance inside heat-treating furnaces. OSHA also placed the company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. OSHA cited 25 willful, serious and other-than-serious violations for hazards related to confined spaces, falls, machine guarding, respiratory protection, chemical exposures and electrical equipment. The company also failed to provide adequate personal protective equipment and train their employees on hazards in the facility. See details.

$422,006 following fatal gas exposure at a Texas utility contractor

RKM Utility Services Inc. was cited after an employee died after exposure to dangerous levels of hydrogen sulfide while working in a trench in Dallas. OSHA inspectors determined the company exposed employees to a hazardous atmosphere, failed to train employees on the health hazards of hydrogen sulfide and did not drain water from the trench. Employers are required to test the air to detect the presence of the gas, use exhaust systems to reduce hydrogen sulfide levels, train workers on hazards and control methods and provide personal protective equipment if control methods used are not sufficient to reduce hydrogen sulfide levels. Review the safety and health citations.

$303,657 for electrical, machine and other hazards at a Mississippi paper products manufacturer

OSHA cited von Drehle Corp. for exposing employees to electrical hazards; lack of machine guarding; allowing combustible dust to accumulate on surfaces; failing to lockout machinery to control hazardous energy; exposing employees to arc-flash and allowing slip, trip, and fall hazards. See details.

$265,196 for repeated fall hazard exposures by a Florida roofing company

Crown Roofing LLC was cited for exposing employees to fall hazards at two separate residential worksites. OSHA initiated inspections as part of a Regional Emphasis Program for Falls in Construction, after inspectors observed employees working on roofs without fall protection. The company has been inspected 17 times in the past five years, with 11 of the inspections resulting in repeat violations of the fall protection standard. Review the citations.

$214,387 for unsafe lead levels at a Texas Indoor Gun Range

Tap Rack Bang Indoor Shooting Range LLC was investigated after OSHA received a complaint of worker exposure to lead during firing range activities. Inspectors found airborne lead exceeding the permissible exposure limit and lead contamination on surfaces throughout the facility. OSHA cited the company for failing to replace damaged personal protective equipment, and medically monitor employees for lead-related illnesses; and for sweeping up lead debris rather than using vacuum methods with high-efficiency particulate air filters. See details.

$208,603 for blocked exits at an Ohio UPS Facility

OSHA inspectors determined that UPS failed to maintain exit routes at multiple facility locations. A roller extension unloader device was permanently located and attached to a belt conveyor limiting the access route, management allowed packages to accumulate in aisles, and some access routes were reduced to just seven inches. The company is contesting the findings. Read more.

$208,560 for trenching hazards by a Pennsylvania construction company

Etna Construction Inc. was cited after OSHA determined the company failed to install protective systems inside an excavation area; provide a safe means of exit from the excavation area; correct excavation deficiencies; and instruct employees on recognizing excavation hazards. The employer also failed to ensure employees wore hardhats to prevent head injuries and did not properly guard protruding reinforced steel. Review the citations.

$200,230 for exposure to copper dust and machine hazards at an Ohio musical instrument manufacturer

Conn-Selmer Inc. was cited for two repeated and seven serious safety and health violations after OSHA inspectors determined the company exposed workers to copper dust in excess of the recommended permissible exposure levels; failed to provide machine guarding, adequate controls to minimize exposure, and safety procedures to prevent employees from coming into contact with operating parts; and neglected to follow requirements for respiratory protection, electrical safety, and labeling hazardous chemicals. See details.

$194,350 fine follows an amputation at a Texas canned food company

Following an amputation, Bruce Foods Corporation was cited for 24 serious safety violations including failing to train employees in lockout/tagout procedures, inadequate machine guarding, lack of fall protection, and exposing employees to live electrical parts. See details.

$188,290 for explosive hazards after a fatal explosion at a Florida ammunition manufacturer

Ammunition manufacturer AMTEC Less Lethal Systems Inc. was cited for multiple serious violations and a willful violation that carries the maximum penalty allowed after an explosion fatally injured two workers. OSHA says the company failed to develop and implement management of change procedures when they increased the maximum explosive limits of pyrotechnic flash powder in or near the blast booths from 200 grams to 500 grams. OSHA also cited the company for failing to maintain the engineer’s specifications for the blowout panels installed on the blast booths; using blast booths that did not comply with good engineering practices; and failing to train employees on the operating procedures for work in the diversion section production room. Review the citations.

$188,302 for repeated wood dust exposure at a Wisconsin pallet manufacturer

Avid Pallet Services LLC was cited after a follow-up inspection found employees continued to be exposed to wood dust. Inspectors determined the company failed to implement sufficient engineering controls to limit dust exposure, as well as train employees on the health hazards of wood dust. OSHA had previously cited the company for these hazards in 2016. Additional citations were issued for failing to evaluate respiratory hazards, medically evaluate and fit test employees using respirators, inform employees of their right to see exposure records and use adequate machine guarding on band saws. Read more.

$182,926 for safety violations after an ammonia burn at a Nebraska beef processor

Noah’s Ark Processors LLC was cited for process safety management violations after an employee suffered severe burns from exposure to anhydrous ammonia. Other citations include failing to guard roof openings and electrical safety and lockout/tagout violations. Review the citations.

$164,802 for forklift hazards at a Georgia hardware wholesaler

Hilti Inc. was cited when inspectors determined that the company failed to provide forklift operator training and instructions to employees operating the vehicles and ensure that employees performed daily forklift inspections. The company also exposed employees to corrosive materials; failed to provide eyewash stations and showers in the work area; failed to develop a written hazard communication program and data sheets for forklift battery electrolytes and failed to notify OSHA within 24 hours of any incident that leads to an employee’s hospitalization, as required. Read more.


In addition to these top 12 fines, OSHA issued six additional fines of more than $100,000: