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Pipe Plant Cited in Worker’s Death

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

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The fatal crushing of an employee has led to a second set of federal citations and fines in four months against Welspun Tubular LLC, involving violations at its pipe manufacturing and coating facility in Little Rock, AR.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the plant for one willful violation—the agency’s highest level of infraction—and two serious violations in the death of one employee and serious injury of another on the evening of Dec. 22.

The employees were trapped between two massive pipes on a conveyor, authorities said.

2 Years,  4 Cases

This is the $150 million facility’s fourth OSHA case since the plant opened in 2009. The plant employs about 265 people and produces up to 300,000 tons of SAW pipe each year, primarily for Fortune 100 oil and gas companies. Welspun Tubular is a subsidiary of Mumbai, India-based Welspun Corp Ltd., the world’s second-largest pipe manufacturer.

Welspun Corp. is the world's second largest pipe manufacturer. 

 Welspun Corp.

Welspun Corp. is the world’s second-largest pipe manufacturer.

“This company has been cited by OSHA twice in a six-month period for jeopardizing the safety of its employees,” said Carlos Reynolds, director of the agency's Little Rock Area Office. “It is tragic that the employer's negligence has resulted in the death of a worker.”

No one from the company was available for comment Wednesday, a spokeswoman said.

New Citations

The willful citation alleges failure to provide the required machine guarding to protect workers from being caught between pipes on a conveyor during manufacturing. A willful citation reflects “intentional disregard for” the law or “plain indifference” to employee safety.

The serious safety violations include failure to repair open holes in the floor to protect workers from falling. Serious citations indicate “substantial probability” of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Previous Citations

In February, OSHA cited the same facility for 25 violations and proposed $88,000 in fines after an inspection Aug. 3, 2010.

That case, which remains open, includes 21 serious health and safety violations for “a variety of hazardous conditions,” OSHA authorities said.

The serious safety violations include allegedly failing to:

  • Protect workers from struck-by hazards;
  • Determine load capacities of cranes;
  • Provide a self-closing fire door;
  • Provide the required machine guarding equipment; and
  • Ensure lockout/tagout procedures were followed to de-energize electrical equipment.

The serious health violations include allegedly failing to:

  • Identify respiratory hazards;
  • Provide training in hazard communication; and
  • Provide hepatitis B vaccinations for employees exposed to blood-borne pathogens or other infectious materials.

OSHA Record

The Welspun Tubular plant has two closed cases with OSHA:

  • In April 2009, OSHA issued one serious and one other-than-serious citation related to crushed-by and fall hazards. The proposed $1,875 fine was later reduced to $1,000.
  • In October 2009, OSHA issued four serious citations related to fall hazards and a $10,000 fine against the company. In April 2010, the case was closed with one serious and one other-than-serious violation and a total fine of $4,000.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Fatalities; Health and safety; OSHA; Pipeline

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