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The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed $114,750 in additional fines against Pierce Industries, a Rochester, N.Y., machine shop, chiefly for failing to correct hazards cited during a previous OSHA inspection. The company was fined $30,000 in December 2009 for a variety of hazards, including failing to test its piping system to ensure it was gas-tight under pressure and to adequately train its workers in the safe operation of forklifts.
The company agreed to correct these conditions, but OSHA's follow-up inspection found this had not been done. A recurring hazard of improperly used electrical outlet boxes also was identified. As a result of these conditions, OSHA has issued the company two failure-to-abate citations with $105,750 in proposed fines for the uncorrected hazards, and one repeat citation with a $3,000 fine for the recurring electrical hazard. OSHA issues failure-to-abate citations and additional penalties when an employer fails to correct previously cited hazards. A repeat violation is issued when an employer previously was cited for the same or similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last three years.
"An uncorrected hazard is an ongoing threat to the safety and health of workers. Employers need to understand that ignoring or putting off corrective action can be costly in financial as well as human terms," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "In cases like this, OSHA will check to verify that cited hazards have been corrected and, if not, employers will be subject to additional and potentially much larger fines."
Pierce Industries also has been issued two serious citations with $6,000 in fines for two new hazards, incomplete procedures and employee training to ensure that machines' power sources were properly locked out of service before maintenance. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.
"One means of eliminating recurring hazards such as these is for employers to establish a safety and health program in which workers and management jointly work to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions on a continual basis," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
Pierce Industries has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, meet with OSHA or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.