Return Visit Nets Fines for Boomerang

Friday, January 16, 2015 @ 04:01 PM gHale

Already in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) for willful violations, Boomerang Tube LLC in Liberty, TX, continued to put workers in harm’s way and exposed them to unguarded machinery, failure to shut down machinery and other hazards, after a July follow-up inspection by officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA cited the company for 18 violations and proposed fines total $283,600. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boomerang Tube employs 550 workers and manufactures tubing and pipe products.

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“When Boomerang Tube neglects to fix hazards that expose workers to possible injuries or worse, it callously puts workers in harm’s way. That is unacceptable,” said David Doucet, OSHA’s area director in the Houston North Area Office. “Boomerang Tube employees deserve to work in an environment free of hazards that threaten their livelihoods and lives.”

In 2011, OSHA placed Boomerang Tube in its SVEP, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers who endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. OSHA conducted this follow-up inspection to assess whether the previously cited violations from the June 2011 inspection ended up taken care of.

OSHA’s Houston North Area Office cited Boomerang Tube for four repeat violations and a $154,000 penalty for failure to utilize lockout/tagout procedures when performing machine service or maintenance; not installing point of operation and general machine guarding; and failure to guard electrical panels, which potentially exposed workers to more than 50 electrical volts. A repeat violation exists when an employer faced previous citations 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 Boomerang Tube for similar violations in June 2011.

OSHA assessed a $70,000 penalty for one willful violation. The agency found Boomerang Tube failed to protect workers from falls of heights from 4 to 15 feet in a storage yard and from an open-sided floor with no walls that exposed workers to falls to a lower level. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

The agency cited the company for 10 serious violations, with a $59,600 penalty, for failure to provide crane control markings to prevent the operator from moving the crane in the wrong direction and dropping the load; improperly using the lifting eye on the welder and not on other machinery; and failure to use fuel gas and oxygen cylinder valve protection caps. Additional serious violations included slip hazards; inadequate material storage; an unguarded grinder; and lack of covers for electrical outlets. 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. Three other violations, with no monetary penalty, were for electrical hazards.

Patterson Tubular Services, the employer of eight workers at the Boomerang Tube facility, also received citations for one serious violation for failure to utilize lockout/tagout procedures when performing machine maintenance. Proposed fines total $7,000 for the Channelview employer.

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