"Recognizing hazards and providing adequate safeguards are essential for employers to protect their workers," said U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao. "The $135,100 in significant penalties proposed in this case demonstrates that this administration is committed to protecting workers' health and safety."
The investigation began in June after an employee fractured his skull when he fell from an elevated, unguarded wooden pallet supported by the forks of an industrial forklift truck. The company's records also identified two previous worker falls involving its storage system.
OSHA issued citations for three alleged willful violations for elevating workers by using industrial trucks with pallets as the work platforms, allowing employees to free climb the frames of the storage racks and having holes in the floors of work platforms, through which two employees fell.
The serious alleged violations included open-sided floors that exposed workers to fall hazards; structurally damaged mobile ladder stands without wheel locks and missing handrails; improperly stored gas cylinders; unstable storage racks built on unsecured and severely damaged wood pallets; powered industrial trucks without legible load limit markings; and inadequate training provided for forklift operators.
Willful violations are those committed with intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations. Serious violations are those in which there is substantial probability of death or serious physical harm from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply with them, to request and to participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.