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Texas recycler cited for serious safety violations

In many cases, when a company is cited for safety violations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publicly announces the company's name along with a list of alleged violations. This generally occurs before the company has a chance to officially respond to the citations or contest any proposed penalties. That was the case recently in Lubbock.

OSHA cited a recycling company for two dozen violations, 20 of which were said to be serious. OSHA regards a violation as serious if it poses a substantial risk of serious injury or death. Serious violations are categorized as such if OSHA deems that the employer should have known about the hazard.

In this case, the alleged serious violations related to fall hazards, noise exposure, electrical safety, machinery hazards, worker training, lack of guardrails, gas cylinder storage and propane labeling. A $64,000 fine was proposed by OSHA.

The Lubbock facility was inspected in November under OSHA's program targeting workplaces with a high potential for hazards. After receiving a list of citations, a company is given 15 business days to take action. The company can go before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and challenge the allegations; or the company can request an informal meeting with OSHA's area director; or the company can comply with OSHA's findings.

Employers who have been cited for workplace safety violations should be aware of their defense options. Even if a company goes to great lengths to protect workers from injury, OSHA may still level allegations and propose penalties. These inspections could be random, or they could arise from complaints from disgruntled workers. In any case, employers have a right to defend themselves.

Source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, "OSHA cites Lubbock recycler Jarvis Metals for 24 violations," Walt Nett, April 9, 2014

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