OSHA Fines United Airlines $215,500

OSHA proposed $215,500 in fines against United Airlines Inc. in Chicago for alleged multiple serious and repeat violations of federal workplace safety standards after selecting the airline for an inspection and reviewing its occupational injury and illness data.

As a result of its inspection, OSHA issued 43 serious violations and four repeat violations. The serious violations address hazards associated with fall protection, hazardous energy control procedures and training, storage of oxygen and fuel-gas cylinders, platform load ratings and electrical hazards. The four repeat violations, based on citations issued and affirmed in 2006 and 2007, cover machine guarding and electrical issues. Proposed penalties for the repeat violations alone total $57,500.

"Falls, electrical hazards and machine guarding issues, as well as energy lockout/tagout procedures, which are intended to prevent accidental start-up of machinery during maintenance, are problems that should not exist at any worksite," said Diane Turek, director of OSHA's Chicago North Area Office in Des Plaines, Ill. "They are problems that can be avoided if an employer is dedicated to protecting employees. Employers must remain dedicated to keeping the workplace safe and healthful, or face close scrutiny by this agency."

Since 2004, OSHA has inspected United Airlines 22 times at various locations nationwide. United Airlines operations at O'Hare International Airport have been inspected eight times since 2000 with three of those inspections resulting in citations.

In a statement, United Airlines said it brought in a third-party safety expert to assist in making immediate facility repairs and identified and corrected some of the concerns OSHA alluded to during its investigation.

"The safety of our employees and customers on and off of our aircraft is always the highest priority at United, and this inspection was an opportunity for us to continue strengthening our workplace safety," said Terry Brady, vice president O'Hare for United. "Through the findings of this inspection, as well as through our ongoing self-assessment, we have identified key areas of improvement."

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