Fatality at Louisiana fab plant leads to OSHA fine

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: workplace safety

A Monroe, La., industrial tank and vessel fabrication company's alleged failure to protect employees from hazards that led to a worker's death, and its inadequate maintenance of injury and illness records have resulted in proposed penalties totaling $81,600 from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

James Machine Works Inc. was cited for the alleged violations following a fatality investigation that began Dec. 28, 2005, at a plant in Plaquemine, La. Employees were constructing a new floor within an above ground storage tank when a worker was hit by a skid steer. The company employs approximately 170 workers.

Two alleged willful violations were issued for failing to record employee injury and illnesses on the OSHA 300 logs and for not verifying the accuracy of the logs. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

"Accurate worker injury and illness records are vital to identify injury trends and hazards," said Greg Honaker, OSHA's area director in Baton Rouge. "Targeting these trends and providing employee training improves worker safety as well as employee moral."

One alleged serious violation was issued for lack of equipment operator training. A serious violation is one that could cause death or serious physical harm to employees and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

Three other-than-serious violations were issued for failing to complete the OSHA 301 logs (first report of injury), not removing damaged synthetic slings from service, and not providing substantially insulated connections for joining welding cables together. An other-than-serious violation is a condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety or health of the employees.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Baton Rouge area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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