Cives Steel Co. is facing $132,000 in fines for willful, repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards at its Augusta, ME, production facility, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials.
The steel products fabricator faces citations for electrical, crushing, laceration and other hazards identified during an inspection by OSHA’s Augusta area office in January.
“The sizable fines proposed in this case reflect the severity and recurring nature of a number of these hazards,” said William Coffin, OSHA’s area director for Maine. “For the safety of its workers, this employer must take effective and expeditious action to eliminate these conditions and prevent their recurrence.”
OSHA found the company did not supply maintenance employees with and did not use personal protective equipment to protect themselves against the hazards of electric shock, arc flash and arc blast while performing diagnostic work on electrical equipment.
This situation resulted in OSHA issuing the plant one willful citation, with a $70,000 fine. 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.
Another electrical hazard cited is the use of extension cords as a substitute for fixed wiring, a condition similar to one for which OSHA had cited Cives Steel’s Gouverneur, NY, plant in 2010. This situation resulted in the issuance of one repeat citation, with a $22,000 fine. A repeat violation exists when OSHA cited an employer previously 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.
Nine serious citations, with $40,000 in fines, for crushing hazards stemming from the plant’s failure to label and test the weight capacity of an in-house fabricated lifting device used to lift metal plates weighing up to 900 pounds; laceration hazards from the unsafe practice of drop staring a chain saw; a lack of leg protection while using chain saws; falls from standing on raw and fabricated steel products; an incomplete confined space entry program; inadequate egress from a mezzanine and additional 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.
The inspection was under OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting Program, which directs inspections toward workplaces with a rate of workdays lost due to injuries and illnesses that is higher than the industry average.