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Shipyard Hazards Draw $305K Fine

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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A Texas shipbuilder is facing its second federal safety case in nine months after inspectors recently found a range of hazards uncorrected from last fall.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Sterling Shipyard LP of Port Neches for 16 serious, repeat and failure-to-abate violations related to dangerous machinery, high noise levels without hearing protection, fall protection and other violations. The new fines total $305,100.

Photos: Sterling Shipyard LP

Sterling Shipyard, a Houston-area construction and maintenance operation, is accused of neither responding to nor addressing previous citations.

The barge builder did not respond to the earlier wave of citations issued last fall, OSHA said.

Citations Ignored

OSHA originally cited the shipbuilder in October 2013 for 13 serious safety and health violations; proposed fines totaled $62,550.

Sterling did not respond to the citations, prompting a follow-up inspection in January 2014 that found that "several" of the hazards previously cited had not been corrected, OSHA announced this month.

“By failing to abate violations cited from an earlier inspection, Sterling chose to ignore worker safety and expose employees to hazards that could lead to illness, injury or death," said OSHA area director Mark Briggs. "OSHA will not tolerate such negligence."

New Violations

Sterling was newly cited with three failure-to-abate violations, carrying a penalty of $214,200, for continuing to expose workers to machine, struck-by and fall hazards. A failure-to-abate notice applies to a condition, hazard or practice that had been cited previously but not corrected by the time of reinspection.


Founded in 2009, the company provides a full range of maintenance and repair services, including painting and blasting.

In addition, OSHA issued four repeat violations, with a penalty of $50,400, for failing to equip surfaces at heights with guardrails and to replace worn and frayed electrical cords. A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited for the same or similar violation at any other facility in federal enforcement states within five years.

The remaining 12 violations include nine serious infractions with a penalty of $40,500. They include alleged failure to:

  • Train workers who were operating forklifts;
  • Perform regular crane inspections and guard portable machinery; and
  • Provide hearing protection for workers exposed to noise.

A serious violation reflects substantial probability of death or serious physical harm from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The new citations may be viewed here, here, here and here.

About the Company

With two drydocks, Sterling Shipyard provides a wide range of services, including design, construction, repairs, and painting, blasting, and other maintenance.


The shipyard was fined $62,550 in October and $305,100 earlier this month.

The company was founded in 2009 and employs about 200 people, according to its website.

Sterling did not respond Tuesday (July 23) to a request for comment.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request a conference, or contest the findings.


Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Enforcement; Fall protection; Marine; OSHA; Shipyards

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