It is the job of the Occupational Safety and Health administration to ensure that workplaces are safe for employees, but employers should also know that they have the option of hiring a defense attorney to challenge OSHA citations if they feel they are unfair or unwarranted. Safety citations are serious business and can damage a business' reputation, not to mention that the cost of fines can be very expensive, depending on the severity of the violation.
A Texas company was recently cited with 10 violations by OSHA, which resulted in fines from the U.S. Department of Labor totaling $148,400.
Lone Star Reel Corporation is headquartered in McKinney, Texas. The company builds and distributes wooden spool reels. In February, OSHA did an inspection of the company's manufacturing plant and accused it of "failing to guard machinery and exposing workers to amputation hazards."
Among the citations were two willful safety violations. One was for failing to provide written procedures to workers telling them how to control hazardous energy sources during maintenance of machinery and equipment. Other citations included insufficient protection from a possible dust explosion, a failure to store materials in a stable and secure manner, and unclean rooms or areas.
A more serious issue reported by the inspectors was failing to ensure that certain parts of machines were guarded to prevent body parts from being exposed to dangerous parts while the machines were in operation. The director of the OSHA office in Dallas remarked that Lone Star is putting workers at risk for losing fingers and other body parts. He also stated that "negligence will not be tolerated."
OSHA says that Lone Star Reel may challenge their findings by requesting an informal conference with the independent OSHA Review Commission. It is unclear whether they will decide to do this or not.
Source: upi.com, "U.S. cites Texas firm for 'willful' safety violations" No author given, Aug. 15, 2013