The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Ball Aerosol and Specialty Container with 11 safety violations, including seven willful and three repeat, for exposing workers to machine guarding hazards at its Hubbard metal container manufacturing facility. Proposed fines total $589,000.
OSHA initiated an inspection of the facility on Oct. 17, 2012, after receiving a complaint that alleged Ball Aerosol continued to expose machine operators to unguarded hazardous machinery, even though the employer had been cited by OSHA for lack of machine guarding on the same equipment in 2009. OSHA’s inspection found that the company knowingly permitted workers to operate the machines without proper guarding. The inspection revealed that the guarding was not installed or was removed because it slowed material positioning and production output.
“Ball Aerosol’s management made a decision to continue to expose machine operators to serious amputation hazards,” said Nick Walters, OSHA’s regional administrator in Chicago. “Workers should not be asked to take such risks, and OSHA will not tolerate such disregard for worker safety.”
Six willful, egregious citations were issued for inadequate machine guarding over the blades of slitter machines. The citations are being issued as willful because the company certified abatement for machine guarding on much of this equipment in 2009 and had a history of machine guarding violations in the past. OSHA also found that the company knowingly continued to violate agency requirements each time the machinery was placed in operation.
A seventh willful citation was issued for lack of machine guarding over nip points and rotating parts on feed tables that was also cited in 2009. Lack of machine guarding exposes operators to amputation hazards of the hands and fingers, which may enter the danger zone during machine operation. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Three repeat safety violations were cited for failing to provide fire extinguisher training to employees; provide machine guarding to protect operators from rotating parts, nip and pinch points in machine areas; and to guard the blades at two mechanical guillotine shears.
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.
These violations were previously cited during the 2009 inspection.
One serious citation was issued for exposing workers to falls of approximately 10 feet while working on a platform with open sides. 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.
Because of the hazards and the violations cited, Ball Aerosol has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. OSHA’s SVEP 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 if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.
The company, headquartered in Broomfield, Colo., produces small metal containers for use by a variety of food, beverage and chemical industries. The company employs about 12,000 workers, operates 31 production plants in the U.S. and has facilities in Asia, Europe, South America and Canada. The Hubbard facility employs 57 workers and specializes in the production of three-piece welded paint and general lines cans.
The current citations may be viewed by clicking HERE.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and notice of proposed penalties to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. If the company does not file or contest within that period, it must abate the cited conditions within the period ordered in the citations and pay the proposed penalties.
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 Cleveland Area Office at 216-615-4266.
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.