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OSHA cites National Pipe & Plastics for fatal accident

By: Frank Antosiewicz

October 3, 2013

National Pipe & Plastics Inc. is contesting $67,000 in proposed fines after being cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 16 serious violations after the review of a March 22 fatal accident at the plant.

In a news release, OSHA said that its inspectors had determined that two of the violations were related to the March 22 death of a truck driver who was struck and killed by a forklift during the loading of his truck. Inspectors said that they found that the forklift had an inoperative backup alarm and that the forklift driver did not have a clear view of the travel path.

“Establishing safety protocols to address foot traffic in these areas would have helped prevent this tragic incident. National Pipe should have maintained equipment properly, such as the forklift’s backup alarm, and ensured forklift operators maintained focus on the path of direction,” said Chris Adams, OSHA’s Syracuse area director, in a statement.

David Culbertson, president of Vestal, N.Y.-based National Pipe & Plastics, said in an email that the company had already filed formal notice that it will contest the charges.

“Only two of the citations … were in any way related to the accident that occurred in March and they are without merit. The remaining citations pertained to the interior of our facility and are equally groundless,” he said.

Culbertson continued: “National Pipe and Plastics looks forward to defending these citations. We are one of the safest manufacturing plants in New York State and we pride ourselves on that. Our Vestal plant has gone more than a year without an employee lost time accident.”

The other serious violations listed by OSHA included failure to maintain surfaces free of combustible dust, failure to maintain fixed stairs at the proper angle, failure to provide handrails on exposed sides of stairways and failure to provide portable metal ladders with slip-resistant rungs. OSHA defines a serious violation as one occurring when there is substantial probability that death or serious injury could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The total proposed penalties are $67,000 and the company has 15 business days to comply or respond.

The company plans to move from Vestal to a new plant five miles away in West Endicott, N.Y., by the end of the year.