Mueller Copper Tube Products fined for exposing workers to variety of hazards

RP news wires
Tags: workplace safety

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Mueller Copper Tube Products, a subsidiary of Mueller Industries Inc. in Wynne, Ark., with safety and health violations following an inspection at the company's worksite on North Falls Boulevard. The privately held corporation, headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., owns and operates 20 facilities located in eight states and two foreign countries. Proposed penalties total $70,675.

"The presence of multiple health and safety hazards at this facility exposed workers to serious injuries," said Carlos Reynolds, area director of OSHA's Little Rock Area Office.

OSHA's Little Rock office began its investigation on January 27. The safety portion of the inspection resulted in four serious violations including failing to provide chains on platforms to protect workers from falling, to ensure workers were knowledgeable about the proper use of compressed air, and to repair or maintain electrical conduits. A serious citation is issued 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. Two repeat safety violations were issued for failing to provide machine guarding and to ensure shafts were adequately guarded. OSHA issues repeat violations if an employer previously has been cited for the same or a substantially similar condition or hazard at any other facility in federal enforcement states. The serious and repeat safety violation penalties total $48,500.

The health inspection portion brought seven serious, one repeat and one other-than-serious violation with proposed penalties totaling $22,175. Serious violations include failing to provide monitoring of noise levels, to ground and bond flammable and combustible liquids during transfer and to provide personal protective equipment. The repeat violation was issued for failing to properly label containers.

Mueller Copper Tube Products employs about 2,000 workers in Arkansas, California, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Canada and England – about 372 of whom are located at the Wynne facility. In January, OSHA issued three Mueller Industries Inc. subsidiaries in Fulton, Miss., with 128 citations for exposing workers to safety and health hazards. The citations resulted from an investigation in July 2009 after a maintenance worker employed by Mueller Copper Tube Company was killed and two other workers were injured when naphtha, a flammable liquid of hydrocarbon mixtures, leaked from an electric pump and ignited. The penalties total $683,000, and the company has contested the citations and penalties.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of these latest citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Little Rock, Ark., or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

About the Author