Safety and OSHA News

Employee complaints bring in OSHA: $950K fine

Two co-owned trailer manufacturing companies in Texas face a combined $949,800 in OSHA fines following an investigation that was prompted by employee complaints.

PJ Trailers Manufacturing Co. and Delco Trailers Co. have received 46 OSHA citations: 7 willful, 9 repeat, 26 serious and 4 other-than-serious.

Employees complained to OSHA that they weren’t adequately protected from injuries caused by rotating machine parts and were exposed to toxic welding fumes and noise levels above approved standards.

The violations issued by OSHA include failure to:

  • provide fall protection (willful)
  • provide adequate machine guarding (willful)
  • provide employees proper eye protection during cutting and welding operations (willful)
  • establish and maintain a hearing testing program (willful)
  • ensure spray booth areas were kept free from accumulated powder coating (repeat)
  • ensure medical evaluations were completed to determine employees’ ability to use respirators (repeat)
  • prevent exposure to welding fumes in excess of the average allowed during an eight-hour shift (serious), and
  • enter recordable injuries and illnesses on the OSHA 300 log within seven calendar days and properly certify the OSHA 300A form (less-than-serious).

Since 2008, at least 15 workers have suffered eye injuries requiring medical treatment and/or days away from work.

PJ Trailers and Delco Trailers had been cited previously by OSHA for many of the same hazards found during the most recent inspection. The companies had certified that they fixed the hazards, but many of the fixes were later abandoned to accommodate production.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations to decide whether to appeal.

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Comments

  1. Being in the safety field for over 37 years I can’t for the life of me figure out why politicians and/or regulators think that more regulations will “Control” the death rate. The trouble with this is safety professionals coming into this field since the late 80’s and 90’s feel the same way. This is probably due to young professional safety people being told over and over in their classes towards some type of safety degree that this needs to happen. Not to mention all the safety and health organizations in bed with OSHA looking like some type of love match made in heaven. For God’s sakes people OSHA, EPA, MSHA are all regulators. They regulate, cite, and gather up the money. I know I worked for Federal OSHA for 15 years. Behind closed doors OSHA laughs at these little partnerships with ASSE, NSA, etc. and how they have them right where they want them. Again I’ve been there directly involved in large scale regional and national partnerships. OSHA just plays along with these organizations to get them on their side so they can continue to develop and implement new regulations.
    More regulations does nothing to save lives. OSHA knows this but by having Voluntary Protection Programs, partnerships, etc. is just a flat expense to the government and believe me it’s all about how much revenue the agency can bring in. I don’t care how much you try and spin it…it’s all about the number of serious and willful citations and how much money each area office generates.

    If OSHA really wants to help employers out and have a significant impact on fatalities and serious injuries in the work place it needs to redirect their energies towards Training and Educational Programs. Previous administrations who truely believe in a smaller government and less intrusion in employers lives had it right. Training, educational programs, partnerships, and volunteer protection programs are all key to a successful safety and health program and should be OSHA’s priority…

  2. Never fails hey, production is job one, Protection is only secondary…. I suppose some of these companies are like elementary students, they have to be told more than once before they “Get It.”

  3. “The companies had certified that they fixed the hazards, but many of the fixes were later abandoned to accommodate production.”

    I don’t see many supervisors and Managers down on the floor removing guards to increase production. I hope those that ordered the guards removed and/or physically removed them were disciplined or terminated accordingly.

  4. Terry got it right!
    Safety is a mind set and the safety culture must be nurtured and grown. OSHA fines will not change things! Only a safety-oriented and safety educated brand of employee will reduce accidents and injuries, period! Better mouse traps will only produce smarter mice – that will continue to take shortcuts and chances, unless they are re-programmed to “THINK AND WORK SAFELY” by recognizing the potential hazards of a job and taking the necessary precautions to avoid unsafe positions and unsafe acts!

  5. I wonder how these employees will feel when the company moves their plant to Mexico? Over regulation by OSHA is one very big reason US manufacturers are moving out of the country.

  6. The money produced from the fines should go right back into the company for training of the employees including managment and in particular first line supervisors, it appears they developed a “bad habit” with nothing to reinforce the good habits, as stated above the fines will do nothing more than to force the company to move to a less regulated location, however if they were to be trained and educated with the support of OSHA, you may see a change of attitudes and possibly good working practices.

  7. Terry, I don’t get it! 1st of all, the company was reported by it’s Employee. It seems that the only ones not concerned about Safety is the Employer. Will, I wouldn’t wanna work for a company (Us, or Mexico) where the Employer was not concerned for my Safety. I am sure that the fines OSHA hands out are not to Educate the company regarding Safety, but it is to Punish them for not promoting a Safety culture that their employee deserves, and, in this case Want… As a Safety Trainer, I have two goals. 1st is to protect our emploeyee from all accidents, so they can retire from our company with all their limbs. 2nd is to protect our company from OSHA finds. My company appreciates that, and so does the employee.

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