Iron Foundry Faces $1 Million in OSHA Fines

A Tyler, Texas, iron foundry is facing a fine of $1,015,000\r\nfollowing an accident that claimed the life of a maintenance\r\nmechanic, according to OSHA.

A Tyler, Texas, iron foundry is facing a fine of $1,015,000 following an accident that claimed the life of a maintenance mechanic, according to OSHA.

Tyler Pipe Co. was cited for 17 alleged safety and health violations at its south plant in Tyler, Texas.

The fatal accident occurred on June 29, when the employee entered a machine pit for routine maintenance and was caught and pulled into an unguarded conveyor belt system.

"Tyler Pipe Co. is no stranger to the very dangers that contributed to the death of this worker," said OSHA Administrator Charles Jeffress. "Less than a year earlier, OSHA issued citations to this company for violating the confined space, machine guarding and lockout/tagout standards. Had they followed the fundamental requirements of these standards, which we reviewed with them during the earlier inspections, this tragedy could have been avoided."

OSHA''s investigation revealed that the employee entered a machine pit alone and conducted routine maintenance which belts, pulleys and conveyors continued to operate.

The pit was also a permit-required confined space; however, the employee was allowed to work without the necessary permit.

OSHA assessed Tyler Pipe Co. $420,000 for failing to provide machine guarding on six machine areas.

An additional $350,000 was proposed for five alleged willful violations related to lockout/tagout procedures.

One other alleged willful violation, with a proposed penalty of $70,000, was issued for failing to address permit-required confined space hazards.

OSHA also cited the company for five alleged repeat violations involving fixed stair requirements, permit required confined space entry provisions, lockout requirements and general housekeeping requirement. A total of $175,000 in repeat penalties was proposed.

"This company should be particularly aware of safety and health policies, having experienced a total of 32 OSHA inspections, including five accident investigations," said Jeffress. "But, our continued visits reveal that safety has not been a primary concern to management. More than 60 percent of Tyler''s maintenance employees have been injured on the job, including two fatalities and numerous amputations. This kind of indifference to worker safety is intolerable, and conditions at Tyler Pipe Co. must change."

Tyler Pipe casts and finishes gray-iron pipes and fittings for soil pipe and utility uses and employs about 1,600 workers at two plants in Tyler and one facility each in Pennsylvania, Missouri and California.

The Tyler facility is organized into a north and south plant, each containing a casting and finishing area, as well as machine tooling and distribution departments.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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