After the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited and fined U.S. Chutes Inc.’s Bantam, CT, plant $94,428 for repeated and serious safety violations in January last year, the manufacturer of galvanized chutes for laundry and trash conveyors asked for time to correct the hazards completely.
After the company failed to submit verification of the hazards’ corrections, OSHA’s Hartford Area Office opened a follow-up inspection and, as a result, U.S. Chutes now faces an additional $422,680 in federal penalties for uncorrected, repeat and new workplace safety hazards.
“U.S. Chutes’ ongoing refusal to correct serious conditions that can sicken or injure its employees must stop. Every day it fails to correct hazards, it needlessly places its workers at risk of crushing and amputation injuries, dangerous chemical exposure, eye injuries, electric shock and exposure to a cancer-causing substance,” said Warren Simpson, OSHA’s area director in Hartford.
The uncorrected hazards show a failure to:
• Properly guard and inspect mechanical power presses
• Update its respiratory protection program
• Provide medical evaluations for employees required to wear respirators
• Conduct monitoring to determine employees’ exposure to hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen
• Provide chemical hazard communication training chemical safety data sheets for employees
• Provide a certified hazard assessment for each job task
• Correctly use and install electrical equipment
The recurring hazards included not fit-testing employees’ respirators; blocked access to electrical panels, and unsecured compressed gas cylinders. New hazards involve lack of an emergency eyewash station; an eyewash station installed immediately below energized light switches, and inadequate insulation on a power cord.
These conditions led OSHA to cite U.S. Chutes for 10 instances of failing to abate previously cited hazards as well as three repeat and three serious violations of workplace safety and health standards.
Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, U.S. Chutes also failed to pay the $94,428 in fines assessed in January 2015 and has not responded to demand letters from OSHA. The Debt Collection Accountability Team in OSHA’s Office of Financial Management has now referred the debt to the U.S. Department of the Treasury for collection.