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Pipe Maker Faces 27 OSHA Citations

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

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One of the oldest names in American pipe manufacturing has been fined $85,000 and accused of 27 federal health and safety violations at its facility in Bessemer, AL.

U.S. Pipe and Foundry Co., established in 1899, is facing a wide variety of serious allegations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

 U.S. Pipe

 U.S. Pipe

The company’s products include Protecto 401 Lined Ductile Iron Pipe and Fittings, shown here during testing.

“The safety of this company’s employees is compromised due to management’s failure to perform maintenance and take common-sense steps to prevent injuries,” said Roberto Sanchez, director of OSHA’s area office in Birmingham. “OSHA will not tolerate this kind of blatant disregard for workers’ well-being.”

The company did not respond this week to a request for comment.

Serious Violations

The citations include 16 serious violations, carrying $76,000 in penalties. Those allegations include:

• Allowing water on the floor near machinery and without needed drainage;

• Employees working on an uneven floor surface that had gaps;

• An uncovered hole in the floor;

• Four instances in which machinery lacked guards;

• Missing stair railings and damaged steps;

• Scaffolding violations;

• Unlabeled drums containing hazardous chemicals; and

• Forklift operator and mechanical violations.

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

Other Violations

OSHA also alleged 11 other-than-serious violations, most of them involving inadequate record-keeping involving employee injury and illness.

Those allegations include dozens of failures to report injuries, and time lost from those injuries, from 2008 to 2011. Most of the injuries involve burns and/or eye injuries. One involved a pipe painter, who suffered asphalt paint in both eyes while painting.

OSHA also cited lack of inspections of fire extinguishers and energy control procedures.

Coated Pipe Producer

Incorporated in 1899 as the United States Cast Iron Pipe and Foundry Co., U.S. Pipe is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Mueller Water Products Inc. The company produces, primes, coats and lines pipes used in the water and wastewater industries.

When it was founded, U.S. Pipe consolidated 12 companies in eight states and produced about 75% of the pipe in the United States. The Bessemer plant (originally known as the Howard-Harrison Iron Company) is one of two plants from the original company that continue operation today.

Today, U.S. Pipe is the largest domestic producer of ductile iron pipe in sizes 4 inch through 64 inch. The Bessemer plant produces a variety of sizes and lengths, as well as joint configurations. Brands include Tyton, TR Flex and USIFLEX.

The plant has no record with OSHA. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply with or appeal the citations.


Tagged categories: Enforcement; Health and safety; Linings; OSHA; Pipeline; Primers; Regulations; Violations; Wastewater Plants

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