Government contractor Huntington Ingalls Industries and five subcontractors face a total of 50 federal citations and $176,444 in fines related to health and safety conditions at the company’s shipyard in Mississippi.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an inspection after receiving a complaint in June about safety hazards at Huntington’s Ingalls Shipbuilding yard in Pascagoula, MS, an 800-acre complex with 10,500 employees who build Navy surface combatants; amphibious assault and transport vessels; and Coast Guard vessels.
Huntington Ingalls Industries
|For more than a century, Huntington Ingalls Industries has built more ships in more ship classes than any U.S. naval shipbuilder.|
The initial inspection was expanded to a comprehensive safety and health inspection under OSHA’s Site Specific Targeting Program, which focuses on companies in industries with higher-than-average injury and illness rates. Proposed penalties for the six companies total $176,444, with most charged to HII.
Mississippi’s largest employer, Huntington owns both Ingalls Shipbuilding and, since March 2010, Newport News Shipbuilding (formerly Northrop Grumman).
OSHA cited Huntington Ingalls for 37 serious safety violations, carrying penalties of $150,300, for impalement, electrical, struck-by, scaffolding, blocked exits, compressed gases, rigging, machine guarding, welding, tripping and fall hazards. The violations allegedly included:
• Nine cranes lacking operational wind-direction devices;
• Use of damaged slings;
• Oxygen and propylene canisters stored together without a noncombustible barrier;
• An electrical cord lying in water;
• Inadequate eye protection in the sheet metal and IDP shops;
• Insufficient railings on stairs and other areas;
• Having damaged ladders available for use; and
• Uncovered openings and insufficient rails and guards in work areas.
Four serious health violations, with $16,000 in penalties, allege:
• Insufficient hazard labeling on adhesive and paint containers;
• Accumulation of lead, arsenic and cadmium dust in a lunch area;
• Dispensing of flammable liquids in improper containers; and
• Using damaged containers for flammable liquids.
A serious violation reflects “substantial probability” of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Three other-than-serious violations, with no fine, allege failure to provide an exit sign, failure to provide a floor plate to determine load capacity, and use of a flexible cord rather than fixed wiring.
“Huntington Ingalls employs more than 10,000 workers at this location who build ships for the federal government, and these employees deserve a first-rate occupational safety and health program,” said Teresa Harrison, OSHA’s acting regional administrator in Atlanta. “This is a wake-up call that the safety and health of workers needs to be the shipyard’s highest priority.”
Company, Union Response
Huntington Ingalls, which has no previous record with OSHA, issued this statement Wednesday (Jan. 4): “Ingalls Shipbuilding’s priorities are safety, quality, cost and schedule—in that order.
“The OSHA inspection was an opportunity for us to identify opportunities to further enhance our safety program. We monitor the safety of our shipyard and shipbuilders daily, and we are focused on continually improving. In fact, injuries and lost time cases in Pascagoula are down in 2011 from 2010 by 15 and 8 percent, respectively.
“Wherever possible, inspection citations were corrected immediately or corrective action plans were immediately implemented. We share OSHA’s commitment to the safety of our shipbuilders and appreciate this opportunity to further improve our safety program.”
Huntington Ingalls also issued this statement on behalf of Mike Crawley, president of the Pascagoula Metal Trades Council: “Ingalls Shipbuilding has an exceptional approach to the tactics necessary to maintain a safe working environment and overall awareness to best safety practices. We continue to support the proven structure of safety action teams, who build on their shipbuilding experiences to ensure safety remains at the forefront of our shipbuilders’ priorities.”
Other Contractor Citations
In addition to the citations leveled against the shipbuilder, five contractors working on site were also cited.
• Industrial Corrosion Control Inc. was cited for two serious safety violations with $3,808 in penalties for improper handling of compressed gas cylinders, and for trip hazards posed by cables and hoses.
• General Insulation Inc. was cited for one serious safety violation with a $2,384 fine for an electrical hazard.
• U.S. Joiner LLC also was cited for one serious safety violation with a $2,167 penalty for an electrical hazard.
• Marine Flooring LLC was cited for one serious violation with a $1,785 penalty for applying a corrosive material without ensuring that employees had access to an eyewash facility.
• Robert J. Baggett Inc. was cited for one other-than-serious safety violation with no fine for using a portable diesel fuel tank that lacked identification of its contents and an appropriate hazard warning.
The companies have up to 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference, or contest the findings.