Safety Report: Repeat Violator gets Big Fine

Friday, March 9, 2012 @ 05:03 PM gHale

JSW Steel (USA) Inc. is facing penalties of $469,420 for 11 repeat, 23 serious and two other-than-serious violations for exposing employees to safety and health hazards at the company’s facility in Baytown, TX, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“This company has operated in a way that disregards the safety and health of its employees,” said John Hermanson, OSHA’s regional administrator in Dallas. “OSHA will not tolerate employers that do not protect their workers.”

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OSHA’s Houston South Area Office initiated a safety inspection Sept. 7, 2011, as a result of several employee complaints, while concurrently conducting a site-specific target inspection. OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting Program focuses on companies with high rates of injuries and illnesses. Both inspections were follow ups to an inspection in November 2008.

The repeat violations include failing to provide covers for open pits and floor holes, develop and conduct periodic inspections for lockout/tagout procedures for energy sources, ensure that fire extinguishers were readily available, remove damaged rigging and lifting devices from service, provide the required machine guarding for rotating parts and ensure hazardous chemical containers ended up properly labeled to identify their contents. A repeat violation exists when OSHA previously cited and employer for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. OSHA cited the company in May 2009 for similar violations with penalties totaling $146,500.

The serious violations include failing to cover floor openings, guard open-sided platforms and provide railings along walkways above dangerous equipment, ensure stairways providing access for emergency exits were of adequate width, adequately secure compressed gas cylinders, ensure the use of personal protective equipment such as goggles and gloves, and ensure lockout/tagout procedures were in effect for cranes. Additionally, inspectors found numerous electrical hazards, including failing to repair conductors and provide covers for junction boxes. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The other-than-serious violations are failing to follow OSHA’s standard to evaluate the workplace for respiratory hazards and to provide training on the use of filtering face pieces. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

OSHA has placed JSW Steel in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.

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