Three serious accidents in five months have led to the issuance of 16 federal citations and $468,000 in fines against a pipe manufacturing plant in Texas.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Boomerang Tube LLC for six willful, nine serious and one other-than-serious violation at the company's plant in Liberty, TX, northeast of Houston.
Boomerang Tube LLC
|Three employees at Boomerang Tube had to be airlifted to hospitals after separate accidents between April and September.|
The company has no prior record with OSHA and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“This employer jeopardized the safety of its employees by failing to follow OSHA’s safety standards for energy control procedures and machine guarding," said John Hermanson, OSHA's regional administrator in Dallas.
“It is very unfortunate that these workers were so seriously injured when the causes should have been prevented.”
OSHA began an investigation after one of the injured employees complained that workers faced unsafe conditions while operating cranes and slitter, rolling and thread machines; performing service and maintenance work; and stacking and loading pipes in the yard and on trucks at the site.
OSHA later reported these incidents:
• In April, an employee was caught in an operating machine;
• In May, an employee was struck by a piece of steel and knocked into a 5-foot-10-inch concrete pit; and
• In September, an employee became caught in machinery.
All three employees had to be flown to a local hospital due to the severity of their injuries, according to OSHA. Their current conditions were not available.
The six willful violations, each carrying a $7,000 fine, include:
• Use of a crane that had been removed from service because it was damaged and had shocked employees;
• Employees working around machinery at heights without fall protection;
• Failure to ensure the use of lockout/tagout procedures to control the energy sources of equipment; and
• Failure to provide the required machine guarding on the pipe manufacturing line.
Willful violations are OSHA’s most serious level of infraction and indicate “intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for” the law or for employee safety and health.
Serious, Other Violations
The serious violations include failure to:
• Repair defective hook latches on operating cranes;
• Ensure that the facility was clear of trip and fall hazards, such as an open pit; and
• Ensure that loads did not exceed the rated capacity of industrial trucks.
A serious violation indicates “substantial probability” of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The other-than-serious violation was for failing to maintain required records of injuries and illnesses.
About the Company
Headquartered in Chesterfield, MO, Boomerang Tube produces Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) and Line Pipe (LP).
The 119-acre Texas plant includes a 487,000-square-foot facility that employs 460 workers and can produce 360,000 tons of Electric Resistance Welded (ERW) OCTG and line pipe annually.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to contest or comply with the order, or to schedule an informal conference with OSHA.