OSHA has proposed penalties totaling more than $469,000 for JSW Steel (USA) Inc. and cited the company for 11 repeat, 23 serious and two other-than-serious violations for exposing employees to safety and health hazards at the company's facility in Baytown, Texas. OSHA initiated the inspection after employees complained of hazards.
“This company has operated in a way that disregards the safety and health of its employees,” said John Hermanson, OSHA’s regional administrator in Dallas. “OSHA will not tolerate employers that do not protect their workers.”
OSHA’s Houston South Area Office initiated a safety inspection on Sept. 7, 2011, while concurrently conducting a site-specific target inspection. OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting Program focuses on establishments with high rates of injuries and illnesses. Both inspections were performed as follow-up to an inspection in November 2008.
The repeat violations include failing to provide covers for open pits and floor holes, develop and conduct periodic inspections for lockout/tagout procedures for energy sources, ensure that fire extinguishers were mounted and readily available, remove damaged rigging and lifting devices from service, provide the required machine guarding for rotating parts and ensure that hazardous chemical containers were properly labeled to identify their contents. OSHA cited the company in May 2009 for similar violations with penalties totaling $146,500.
The serious violations include failing to cover floor openings, guard open-sided platforms and provide railings along walkways above dangerous equipment, ensure that stairways providing access for emergency exits were of adequate width, adequately secure compressed gas cylinders, ensure the use of personal protective equipment such as goggles and gloves, and ensure that lockout/tagout procedures were followed for cranes. Additionally, numerous electrical hazards were found, including failing to repair conductors and provide covers for junction boxes. A serious violation is one in which 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 other-than-serious violations are failing to follow OSHA’s standard to evaluate the workplace for respiratory hazards and to provide training on the use of filtering face pieces.
OSHA has placed JSW Steel in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on employers the agency feels endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.