OSHA Fines Northwest Pipe Co. $197,500 for Safety and Health Violations

OSHA has cited Portland, Ore.-based Northwest Pipe Co. and proposed penalties totaling $197,500 for allegedly exposing employees to safety and health hazards.

OSHA citations against Northwest Pipe, a steel pipe manufacturing company, alleged 38 serious safety violations, 15 serious health violations and two other-than-serious violations following an inspection that began Jan. 19 at the company's Houston facility.

Northwest Pipe employs 1,200 workers nationwide; about 105 are located in Houston.

"OSHA's standards are designed to protect employees from workplace hazards, but many were not followed by Northwest Pipe," said John Lawson, OSHA's area director of the Houston North area office. "It is fortunate that no one was injured."

Alleged serious safety violations included inadequate machine guarding and unsafely stored steel coils. Also cited as serious was the company's alleged failure to develop and train employees in lockout/tagout procedures to ensure machinery will not start up during maintenance or repair.

Additional alleged serious violations involved:

  • Overloading powered industrial trucks and cranes;
  • Failing to properly maintain equipment; and
  • Numerous electrical violations, such as damaged flexible cords and circuit breakers that were installed in damp and wet locations.

Serious health citations were issued for the company's alleged failure to:

  • Properly label containers and dip tanks;
  • Establish a written safety and health program;
  • Train employees to safely use hazardous chemicals;
  • Provide eye wash stations where caustic materials were being used; and
  • Provide ear protection for workers in high-level noise areas.

Other-than-serious citations were issued for allegedly failing to mount fire extinguishers and to provide respiratory protection equipment.

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