Failure to Protect Workers Leads To Nearly $42,000 In Fines for Connecticut Employer

Failure to protect workers against safety and health hazards ranging from unguarded machinery and electrical equipment to deficient respirator and first aid safeguards has resulted in $41,925 in proposed fines against a Seymour, Conn., sporting goods manufacturer.

Thule Inc. was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for alleged serious, repeat and other violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following safety and health inspections by OSHA's Bridgeport area office.

The inspections were conducted under an OSHA program that targets workplaces with a higher than average number of workdays lost to on-the-job injuries or illnesses, explained Robert W. Kowalski, OSHA's Bridgeport area director.

Sixteen alleged serious violations account for $33,825 of the proposed fines. Those hazards include moving machine parts not guarded against employee contact, exposed live electrical conductors, no written standard operating procedures for the proper selection and use of respirators, failure to evaluate an employee's physical fitness to wear a respirator, no written control plan to minimize first aid responders' exposure to bloodborne pathogens, improper storage of compressed gas cylinders, and a blocked exit door.

Four alleged repeat violations, with $8,100 in proposed penalties, were issued for excess air pressure in cleaning hoses, no annual inspection of the plant's energy control procedures, misuse of electrical outlet boxes, and inadequate strain relief for power cords. OSHA cited Thule previously for substantially similar violations in 2000 and 2001 following inspections at the company's Franklin Park, Ill., manufacturing plant.

Thule was also cited for 10 alleged other-than-serious violations for inadequacies with workplace hazard evaluation, hazard communication, fire extinguishers, electrical panels and power cords.

OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. An other-than-serious violation is a condition, which would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees. A repeat citation is issued when an employer has been previously cited for a substantially similar hazard and that citation has become final.

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