Big Safety Fines for TX Barge Builder

Thursday, July 17, 2014 @ 05:07 PM gHale


Sterling Shipyard LP is facing $305,100 in fines for 16 serious, repeat and failure-to-abate violations for continuing to expose workers to safety hazards, including dangerous machinery, high noise levels without appropriate hearing protection and falls from heights above 6 feet, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA had originally cited the Port Neches, TX, barge builder in October 2013 for 13 serious safety and health violations with a fine of $62,550. When Sterling did not respond to the citations, a follow-up inspection took place in January that revealed Sterling had not corrected several of the hazardous conditions previously cited.

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“By failing to abate violations cited from an earlier inspection, Sterling chose to ignore worker safety and expose employees to hazards that could lead to illness, injury or death. OSHA will not tolerate such negligence,” said Mark Briggs, OSHA’s area director in the Houston South Area Office.

Sterling received citations for three failure-to-abate violations, with a penalty of $214,200, for continuing to expose workers to machine, struck-by and fall hazards. A failure-to-abate notice applies to a condition, hazard or practice, found upon reinspection, for which the employer originally received a citation, but did not correct it.

Four repeat violations, with a penalty of $50,400, were for failing to equip surfaces 5 feet or higher with guardrails and replace worn and frayed electrical cords. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously received citations for the same or similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

The remaining 12 violations, including nine serious with a penalty of $40,500, were for failing to train workers who were operating forklifts; to perform regular crane inspections and guard portable machinery; and to provide hearing protection for workers exposed to noise. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.



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