The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited ATW Automation Inc. for nine safety violations after a worker sustained blunt force trauma injuries at the company’s machine manufacturing facility in Dayton. The worker was caught and pinned by a conveyor that had lowered during a “power down” process, and he died from his injuries a few days later.
“ATW Automation has a responsibility to mandate effective measures that control hazardous energy in its manufacturing facility to ensure that machines will not become unexpectedly energized, which poses a risk of injury or death to workers. Failing to do so resulted in a tragedy,” said Bill Wilkerson, OSHA’s area director in Cincinnati. “Employers who are cited for safety, especially repeat, violations demonstrate a lack of commitment to employee safety and health.”
One repeat violation is failing to conduct and document periodic inspections of specific energy control procedures in the fabrication and tool room departments. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited 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. ATW Automation was cited for this violation based on a July 2008 inspection, which was conducted under OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Amputations and resulted in citations for a total of five serious violations. At that time, the company operated as Advanced Automation Inc.
Seven serious violations from the most recent inspection involve a failure to guard the area around the roller lift conveyer to prevent workers from being exposed to moving parts, train employees on personal protective measures when working around electrical equipment, ensure that workers wear proper safety glasses, provide appropriate personal protective equipment for workers using a metal grinding wheel, implement an effective lockout/tagout program for machines’ energy sources and notify affected workers of “power down” conditions, develop specific energy control procedures for equipment, and train workers on the proper procedures to isolate and lock out all energy sources for machines in the fabrication and tool room departments. 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.
One other-than-serious violation is failing to conduct semiannual testing of insulated rubber gloves that are used for work with energized electrical equipment. 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.
The incident that led to the most recent inspection occurred on July 27. Proposed penalties total $63,000. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Meanwhile, in an unrelated case involving another Ohio company, OSHA has cited Dover Chemical Co. for 47 health and safety violations – including four willful – after an unexpected release of hazardous materials led to the temporary shut-down of the company’s Dover plant and an adjacent highway in May. Although no injuries were reported as a result of the incident, OSHA opened an investigation focused on the agency’s standards for process safety management, known as PSM, at facilities that use highly hazardous chemicals. Proposed fines total $545,000.
The release of materials resulted from a breach of a polyvinyl chloride piping system. Due to the nature of the hazards and the willful violations cited, Dover Chemical has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.
“By disregarding OSHA’s common-sense regulations, this employer endangered the health and safety of the facility’s workers,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “While I’m grateful that nobody was injured from the incident, I’m alarmed by the egregious nature of the violations we uncovered during our inspection.”
The willful violations all relate to PSM, and include failing to correct deficiencies found in compliance audits, not resolving recommendations identified during a process hazard analysis, having operating procedures that do not include the consequences for deviation or the steps required to correct or avoid deviation from operating limits, and process safety information that does not detail the construction materials used for piping and piping system components. 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.
Thirty serious violations also relate to PSM, such as inaccurate operating procedures; inadequate information about the hazardous effects of inadvertently mixing different chemicals, safe upper and lower limits for operating parameters, and the lack of chemical reactivity data; and failing to include system design codes and standards. The company also did not train employees about PSM, document that equipment complies with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices, perform inspections and tests on process equipment, and correct deficiencies noted during equipment inspections.
An additional 11 serious violations involve unguarded wall and floor openings, failing to test aerial lift controls prior to use, allowing untrained persons to operate lifts, not developing energy control procedures for the maintenance and servicing of equipment, and electrical hazards. 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.
Two other-than-serious violations are not certifying personal protective equipment hazard assessments and not certifying whether powered industrial vehicle training was conducted. 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.
The Dover facility employs about 175 workers and produces chlorinated paraffins; additives for flame-resistant products; and other additives for the plastic, rubber coating, adhesive and textile product industries. The facility has been inspected by OSHA four previous times since 2007, resulting in citations for four violations. A subsidiary of New York-based ICC Industries Inc., Dover Chemical Co. also operates a facility in Hammond, Ind., that uses similar procedures and employs 86 workers.
OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer’s facilities. For more information, visit http://s.dol.gov/J3.
More information about OSHA’s standards for the management of hazards associated with processes involving highly hazardous chemicals is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/process....
The citations may be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citation...
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Cincinnati Area Office at 513-841-4132.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.