Company Agrees to Pay Reduced OSHA Fine

Occupationalhazards.com often posts articles discussing proposed OSHA penalties and fines, but what happens once the agency issues citations?

OSHA gives companies 15 days to agree to the penalties, request an informal hearing with the area OSHA director or contest the fines and citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Here's a follow-up to an article posted on the Web site on Jan. 15 titled, "Syracuse, NY Company Needs to 'Venture' Toward Safety."

Following negotiations with OSHA, New Venture Gear, the company featured in the article, agreed to pay nearly $87,000 in fines for exposing employees an extensive list of safety hazards, including unguarded moving machinery and electrocution hazards. OSHA originally proposed fines of $133,500.

The OSHA area director, Diane Brayden, called the settlment an "amicable resolution," adding that although the fine has been reduced, the 32 citations issued by OSHA will stand.

OSHA conducted an inspection of the company from Aug. 6 through Jan. 3, as part of its "site-specific targeting program," under which it inspects certain worksites with high rates of lost workday injuries and illnesses. The company was previously inspected in 1999 under a similar program and was issued citations with a proposed penalty of more than $100,000 at that time.

According to Brayden, 27 of the citations were classified as serious. Examples include failure to provide fall protection on aerial lifts, failure to maintain dry floors and failure to guard floor openings. Poor maintenance was also cited for ladders and stairs, fire extinguishers, exits, forklifts and slings, as well as failure to provide guarding on grinders, shafts, belts and pulleys and to maintain electrical equipment, conduit and flexible cords and guard electrical equipment.

Three alleged "repeat" violations included the company's failure to maintain overhead hoists, below the hook lifting devices and bridge rails; inadequately guarded moving parts on machinery; and inadequately guarded points of operation on machinery. Two alleged "other-than-serious" violations were issued for the company's failure to provide adequate general housekeeping and to properly maintain stairway treads.

"Their focus at the facility was on correcting conditions after they had caused an accident with an injury rather than being more proactive and looking for conditions that could cause injury if left uncorrected. That's being turned around at this point," said Brayden.

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