Basic Marine workers suffered exposure to dangerous amputation hazards while operating press brakes, which cut large metal pieces weighing up to 450 tons, because safety mechanisms were not in place, said officials a the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Over the past six years, OSHA inspectors found similar hazards three times at the Escanaba, MI-based shipyard and boat fabricating facility where a worker’s arm ended up amputated in 2008.
An August 2014 follow-up inspection resulted in fines of $242,940 for five repeated, three willful and 10 serious safety violations, including fall and respiratory hazards. The company is also now in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“Basic Marine continues to maintain an environment where employees are blamed if they’re injured by dangerous machinery, and it fosters a culture where safety precautions are considered unnecessary,” said Larry Johnson, area director of OSHA’s Lansing Area Office. “Even when workers are harmed, the company is reluctant to re-evaluate its safety and health programs, and that’s wholly unacceptable.”
Three willful violations were for exposure to struck-by hazards, machine hazards and falls and trips from unguarded manholes and unprotected edges.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
OSHA also found repeated violations of respiratory protection standards, such as not requiring employees to wear air-line respirators. Crane slings did not undergo inspection every three months, and inspection records did not end up maintained, as required. OSHA issues repeated violations if an employer previously faced citations for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Basic Marine received citations for these hazards in 2011.
In addition, Basic Marine exposed workers to dangerous operating machine parts because it allowed the machines to go into action with inadequate protective devices. The company also failed to provide specific written procedures and training for employees on how to prevent unintentional operation of machinery during service and maintenance, such as applying locking devices and turning equipment off. OSHA inspectors also noted unmarked exit signs and the company’s failure to post fire watches during welding activities. Ten serious violations ended up issued.
An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.