The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued notices for 37 safety and health violations at the U.S. Army’s Fort Bragg installation, following an inspection focusing on the fort’s maintenance, construction, painting and other trades.
Fort Bragg is home to the XVIII Airborne Corps, 82nd Airborne Division and U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
OSHA’s inspection targeted the garrison, the physical part of the base that is primarily run by civilians with military commanders’ oversight, said Michael Wald, Regional Director for OSHA’s Office of Public Affairs in Atlanta.
The primary focus was on the base’s two largest directorates, which have the most injuries and illnesses: the Directorate of Public Works (DPW) and the Directorate of Human Resources, Directorate of Plans, Training & Mobilization (DPTM), Wald said. These areas are staffed mainly by tradespeople.
|Personnel from Fort Bragg’s Directorate of Public Works clean up base areas hit by a tornado in April. OSHA cited DPW for a variety of health and safety violations.|
The inspection was conducted as part of OSHA’s Federal Agency Targeting Inspection Program. No monetary penalties are attached to the citations. Although OSHA is responsible for inspecting federal agency sites, it cannot fine other federal agencies.
Some of the violations were corrected during inspection, according to OSHA documents. Most of the rest were corrected afterward, Fort Bragg spokesman Ben Abel said Friday. “Our folks were there when the inspections were ongoing, and we’ve remediated most of” the conditions, Abel said.
The Army is still reviewing the OSHA report, which it received about noon Thursday, just before the public release, Abel said. He said he thought that all but one violation had been corrected.
A number of the violations relate to the base’s painting operations. For example, OSHA said, neither DPW nor DPTM had a hazard communications plan in place for employees working with paints, thinners, solvents and other hazardous chemicals.
Nor were those employees trained in working with paints, thinners, solvents and other hazardous chemicals, so they had no information on protective gear, exposure risks and other safety issues, OSHA said.
Some materials, including an anti-corrosion protective coating, had no Material Safety Data Sheet, and a number of containers that contained some kind of brown paint were unlabeled, OSHA said.
Two repeat safety violations involved hazards related to abrasive wheel machinery. Tongue guards were missing and work rests were improperly adjusted, exposing employees to the risk of shrapnel from shattered wheels. OSHA had notified the Army of similar violations at Fort Knox in Kentucky in 2008.
A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation at any other facility within five years.
Fourteen serious safety violations included:
• Fall hazards due to lack of a guard rail;
• Missing or improperly guarded equipment;
• Lack of lockout/tagout procedures and training on hazardous energy sources; and
• Various electrical hazards, including lack of protective gear, unlabeled electrical panels, lack of training, and 25-foot extension cords being used in place of fixed wiring.
A serious violation reflects a “substantial probability” of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Serious health violations included:
• Inadequate signs and lighting on exit routes;
• Employees allowed to smoke in areas containing flammable and combustible materials, and
• Lack of a written hazard communication program.
OSHA also alleged inaccurate reporting of injuries and illnesses. It cited multiple instances of the base failing to correctly log injuries and illnesses on the OSHA 300 log for 2006 through 2010, and failing to certify the log for the same years.
Other citations alleged:
• Lack of hot water and soap in restrooms;
• Fire extinguisher violations;
• Failure to provide information to employees who work with lead and failure to monitor those employees’ lead exposure; and
• Failure to certify employees for operating powered industrial trucks.
“Civilian employees and contractors working to support our soldiers should not have to risk their own safety and health daily by being exposed to the hazards found at Fort Bragg,” said Kim Morton, director of OSHA’s Raleigh Area Office.
Under Executive Order 12196, federal agencies must comply with the same safety and health standards as private sector employers covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The federal agency equivalent to a private sector citation is the Notice of Unsafe and Unhealthful Working Conditions, commonly called “the notice.”
The notice will become a final order if the U.S. Army does not request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director in Raleigh within 15 business days.