By: Rachel Abbey McCafferty
CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS
May 16, 2014
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Kobelco Stewart Bolling Inc. of Hudson, Ohio, for 13 safety and health violations that carry a potential penalty of nearly $140,000.
OSHA said in a news release on May 15 that it found repeat violations of machine guarding standards, which can lead to injuries including lacerations and amputation.
The repeat violations the company was cited for were listed in the release as “inadequate lockout/tagout procedures to protect workers who service or maintain machines from moving machinery parts, exposing workers to unguarded equipment and not labeling chemical containers.”
Repeat violations are given when an employer has been cited for the same or similar violation in the past five years at a facility in what OSHA calls “federal enforcement states.” OSHA said the company was cited for similar violations in 2011.
OSHA said the investigation was started after a worker complaint. The proposed penalties add up to $139,000.
“Failing to protect workers from dangerous machinery is among the most frequently cited OSHA violations and injuries involving machinery and equipment often result in death or permanent disability,” Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland, said in the release. “Employers who are cited for repeat violations demonstrate a lack of commitment to employee safety and health.”
Kobelco also was cited for six “serious” violations, including a lack of fire extinguisher training and failing to train employees on personal protective equipment, and four “other-than-serious” violations, including not inspecting cranes daily and not keeping a chemical inventory list. Serious violations are defined as hazards that can lead to death or serious physical harm that the employer knew or should have known about.
Kobelco has 15 days from receiving the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or contest the findings.
President David Sealfon said in an email that he was not able to comment on the proposed OSHA fines. Sealfon noted that the plant was celebrating a year without a loss-time accident with its employees on Friday and included a news release about that milestone.
The release said the company, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kobe Steel Ltd. in Japan, has 110 employees. It makes processing equipment for the plastics, tire and rubber industries. The release noted the company regularly takes time to review safety procedures, and that employees took part in a safety meeting earlier this month on the importance of personal protective equipment.
The company said it invites an OSHA consultant from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation to inspect the plant once or twice a year and takes part in annual inspections from Kobe Steel USA. The latter inspection is scheduled for next week.