Texas Trailer Manufacturers Cited by OSHA for Noise, Toxic Fumes and More

It was a hot, noisy summer for workers at PJ Trailers Manufacturing Co. Inc. and Delco Trailers Co. Inc., a similar company owned by PJ Trailers. Workers at the companies, which have the same president and management, allegedly were exposed to toxic welding fumes, fall hazards, noise hazards, inadequate machine guarding, hazardous dust and a lack of eye protection, among other hazards.

“Willful and repeat citations, as well as significant penalties, reflect the fact that management knew workers were exposed to dangerous conditions yet failed to provide them with basic safety protections. That choice is unacceptable and needlessly placed these workers’ health and safety at risk,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels.

PJ Trailers Manufacturing and Delco Trailers share a work site, a human resources division and a safety and health manager, and they have interrelated and integrated operations. OSHA’s Dallas Area Office initiated a safety and health inspection at the company’s facility in Sumner, Texas, following receipt of a complaint that employees were not adequately protected from being injured by rotating machinery parts, employees were exposed to toxic welding fumes while fabricating trailers and noise levels were above approved health standards.

The alleged willful violations involve failing to provide fall protection for employees working on stacked trailers, provide adequate machine guarding to prevent “caught-in” or “caught-between injuries,” provide employees with proper eye protection during cutting and welding operations, and establish and maintain an audiometric testing program. Audiometric testing is required when employees are exposed to high noise levels to determine if their hearing is being adversely affected. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

The alleged repeat violations include failing to ensure that all spray booth areas were kept free from accumulated powder coating, failing to guard several pieces of hazardous machinery, failing to have all necessary lockout/tagout procedures, failing to provide training on existing lockout/tagout procedures to protect employees from hazardous machinery starting up unexpectedly and failing ensure that medical evaluations were completed to determine employees’ ability to use respirators. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. OSHA cited the company in September and October of 2006 and March 2010 for similar violations.

Alleged serious violations include failing to provide required fall protection, failing to provide training on electrical hazards and failing to prevent exposure to welding fumes in excess of the average allowed during an 8-hour shift. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Alleged other-than-serious violations include failing to enter recordable injuries and illnesses on the OSHA 300 log within 7 calendar days and failing to properly certify the OSHA 300A form or its equivalent. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s Dallas Area Office or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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