Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Jun 16, 2022

OSHA assesses large penalties for two employers’ safety violations

Safety and Health 

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited two companies after it found the employers exposed workers to serious hazards that resulted in the death of two individuals.

A plastics company in Ohio faces $291,086 in penalties after an employee died while trying to clear plastic parts stuck in a machine. OSHA issued a citation stating that the employer’s violations were willful, repeated, and serious, which together combined into a substantial penalty. OSHA’s determination stems from two similar incidents that had occurred on the same machine at the company, with one incident occurring the same day of the fatal incident. The citation indicates that the employer failed to ensure its energy control procedures shut down, isolated, and blocked the machine’s hazardous energy. The citation also said the company failed to regularly audit machine safety procedures for effectiveness and train employees on machine use.

A lumber company in Alabama faces $53,866 in penalties after an accident in which a forklift fatally struck a worker. OSHA issued a citation and determined that the company failed to require forklift drivers to keep a clear view of the driving path, didn’t remove damaged forklifts from service, and exposed workers to struck-by hazards. OSHA also found that the company failed to distinguish and mark shipping department travel aisles for traffic.
Tips: For specific information about energy control procedures, review our Legal Guide, Lockout/Tagout (Hazardous Energy Control), and call your Vigilant safety professional for assistance with developing procedures for the machines in your facility. Vigilant also recommends the following safety tips to prevent an accident and/or citation from OSHA or your state safety and health agency:

  • Ensure all employees are trained in lockout/tagout procedures. Before performing service or maintenance, test all machines and equipment that are locked out to verify all energy is dissipated.
  • Conduct periodic reviews, at least annually, of your lockout procedures to ensure they are effective and eliminate all stored energy. You should conduct periodic reviews of employees performing lockouts to confirm they are competent in the procedures. Ensure employees know to report when a procedure doesn’t eliminate all stored energy.
  • Correct all known hazards in a timely manner to protect employees. Take immediate action to protect employees until a permanent fix can be put in place. Refer to OSHA’s Hierarchy of Controls when evaluating ways to protect employees from hazards.

Review your site forklift and pedestrian traffic plan. You should make sure pedestrian paths through forklift areas are clearly marked, aren’t in blind spots, are adhered to by pedestrians, and are known by forklift operators. Mirrors, warning lights, and warning sounds can also help alert forklift drivers to the presence of pedestrians, and vice versa.

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.