OSHA Cites Companies for Ergonomic Issues

Ten months after OSHA announced that a major element of its ergonomics program would be to cite and fine companies with repetitive motion hazards, the agency has its first such citations.

As part of its National Emphasis Program for nursing homes, in November OSHA opened inspections focusing on ergonomics issues at facilities operated by Alpha Health Services, Inc. in Rathdrum and Post Falls, Idaho.

The company is now facing three separate violations of the General Duty Clause (GDC) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act for ergonomic-related lifting hazards. The proposed penalty for each violation is $900, according to Richard Terrill, administrator for OSHA Region 10. OSHA cited the company for other alleged violations that add up to a total fine of $11,500.

Security Metal Products Corp., a metal fabricating company that manufactures doorframes in Clinton, Okla., is facing multiple citations for a variety of safety matters and proposed fines of $102,600. One of the alleged violations is willful and is for inadequate guarding of press brakes. The company has also been cited for five alleged serious and four repeat violations.

One of the five serious violations is for ergonomics issues. "They're making large door frames, and they were lifting these manually, without lift assist devices," explained James Brown, the director of OSHA's Oklahoma City area office. "There were reports of back injuries."

OSHA has proposed a penalty of $5600 for the material handling citation, according to Brown.

In a statement, the company denied that it has ever shown "intentional disregard or plain indifference to the requirements of OSHA," the definition of a willful violation. "Security Metal," the statement concluded, "has in the past and will continue in the future take steps to make its Clinton, Okla. workplace safe for its employees."

A company spokesperson declined to provide additional information about its workplace safety program.

At press time, the cases against both companies were still open, so further details about them were unavailable.

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