Construction Companies Face $2 Million in Fines for Knowingly Exposing Workers to Asbestos
Two Illinois-based companies face a total of nearly $2 million in proposed fines for knowingly exposing workers to asbestos. An investigation by the DOL and OSHA found that Kehrer Brothers Construction and a Kehrer-affiliated company, D7 Roofing, violated numerous OSHA health standards related to asbestos exposure.
Asbestos is well-recognized as a health hazard, and its use is highly regulated by OSHA; breathing asbestos fibers can cause a buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs and result in loss of lung function that often progresses to disability and death. At least eight employees of the two companies were unaware that they were exposed to asbestos fibers while removing floor tiles, insulation and other materials.
Many of the exposed workers came to the United States to work for Kehrer Brothers Construction under the provisions of the H-2B visa program, which allows companies to hire foreign workers temporarily. Both companies failed to warn employees—some of whom only spoke Spanish—of the dangers, even though management was aware of the asbestos hazard. The investigation also found that management threatened some workers with termination if they spoke with OSHA inspectors.
In August, OSHA cited Kehrer Brothers Construction for 16 “egregious,” nine “willful” and six “serious” violations. OSHA also cited D7 Roofing for three total violations for not training workers, failing to inform them of the asbestos hazard and failing to conduct required inspections.
Contact Bridgepoint Insurance Group for resources to stay compliant with OSHA construction regulations and to avoid fines. These resources include a comprehensive Asbestos Exposure Program and Training Materials, tailored specifically to the construction industry.
Nebraska Manufacturer Faces Large Fines After Attempting to Conceal Safety Hazards
Last month, OSHA issued numerous citations to a Nebraska flooring materials company that tried to hide hazardous machines from federal inspectors and threatened to fire employees who complained about unsafe working conditions. The full citations included two “willful” and 22 “serious” violations, as well as one “other-than serious” safety violation, carrying proposed penalties of $244,000.
The company, MP Global Products LLC, attempted to conceal an entire production line from OSHA inspectors. The company shut down the line, turned off the lights and moved employees into a back room, where they were told to remain quiet during the inspection. Numerous machines lacked safety guards, which exposed workers to amputation injuries, both on the concealed line and throughout the facility.
Also during the inspection, it was found that the company failed to train workers on machine safety procedures and vehicle operation. Inspectors discovered blocked aisles, inadequate emergency exit signs, defective powered industrial trucks in operation and numerous electrical safety hazards.
OSHA currently maintains a National Emphasis Program (NEP) on amputations, the NEP targets workplaces with machinery and equipment that is capable of causing amputations and workplaces where amputations have occurred. Because of this, when a 65-year-old temporary worker at MP Global Products suffered an amputation of his finger and severe damage to another when his left hand was caught in a machine, OSHA needed to investigate. That investigation led to the numerous violations.
The best way to avoid costly OSHA violations is to stay compliant with regulations. Get in touch with your Bridgepoint Insurance Group representative, who can provide you with our industry-specific Risk Insights series. This and other resources can be used to ensure that your equipment meets OSHA safety standards.
Leading Poultry Supplier Cited Repeatedly
According to OSHA, employees at Case Farms Processing Inc. are exposed to the dangers of amputation, electrocution and hazardous falls on a daily basis. OSHA also specifically noted Case Farms Processing’s long history of violating federal worker safety and health standards, which dates back to 1988.
An inspection of an Ohio-based Case Farms Processing facility found that the company was aware of numerous hazards but continued to expose workers to serious and potentially fatal injuries. In August, OSHA cited the company for 55 violations, which ranged from “willful” to “less-than-serious.” As a result, Case Farms Processing faces $861,500 in penalties and has been added to OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which concentrates on inspecting employers who have “demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations.” Over the past 25 years, Case Farms Processing has been cited for more than 350 safety and health violations.
The inspection that resulted in the most recent citations found the following hazards:
• Amputation hazards
• Lack of personal protective equipment
• Numerous violations of electrical safety standards
• Fall hazards due to non-functioning fall-arrest systems, unprotected platforms and wet work surfaces
• Improperly stored oxygen cylinders
• Lack of emergency eye-wash stations
Contact Bridgepoint Insurance Group for resources and guides that can help you avoid all of these violations.