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Steel products maker cited for violations

Posted On: Sep. 27, 2019 1:10 PM CST


A fabricated steel products manufacturer must pay $14,000 for several violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, but the company will not have to pay for an alleged fall protection training violation, an administrative law judge held in a decision released Thursday.

In Secretary of Labor v. FabArc Steel Supply Inc., an administrative law judge affirmed two citations issued in an inspection triggered by a finger amputation, but vacated one citation in a final decision of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Oxford, Alabama-based FabArc Steel Supply Inc. manufactures fabricated steel products. On Oct. 4, 2018, a worker was in the process of loading a motor onto a golf cart when the motor flipped, amputating the employee’s finger, which was inside the strap holding the motor. The investigator found no violations relating to the accident but issued three alleged serious violations of OSH Act for failing to train employees in fall protection personal protective equipment limitations, failing to use lockout/tagout procedures and not removing a malfunctioning forklift from service. The alleged violations carried fines totaling $23,658. FabArc appealed, and the administrative judge vacated the first citation but affirmed the other two.

Regarding the alleged fall protection violation, the judge noted that when the citation was issued, the investigator failed to cite the new fall protection standard, finding that the older standard was not applicable to the alleged violative conditions.

However, the judge affirmed the other two citations and penalties. On the lockout/tagout allegation, the investigator observed two employees working on a Blastec machine — which when on is energized with 480 volts of electricity — and noted that the isolation switch was not locked and tagged out because the device for securing the locks was broken, and noted that either employee could have flipped the switch, reenergizing the machine. Although FabArc contended that the investigator could not establish that management knew of the alleged violation, the judge disagreed because the maintenance office had ordered a replacement part for securing the locks, but the employees worked on it regardless.

With the forklift-related citation, the investigator observed that the truck had been operating for eight months without a working horn, and at least two weeks with a leak that had not been evaluated.

Here, the forklift without an operating horn could result in serious injuries or death to employees in the vicinity of the moving forklift. “Leaks from the forklift also presented slip and fall hazards to employees, creating a substantial possibility of death or serious physical harm,” said the judge and she affirmed the citation and penalties totaling $14,100 for the two violations.