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Painter Dangers Draw 2nd Shipyard Case

Monday, January 16, 2012

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Accused for the second time in three years of endangering its painters, a Michigan shipyard is facing 32 new federal safety and health citations—including five repeats—and fines totaling nearly $150,000.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the citations and proposed fines of $147,840 against Basic Marine Inc., a shipbuilding and marine repair contractor in Escanaba, MI.

 Basic Marine provides new construction and marine repairs at its facility in Escanaba, MI

 Basic Marine Inc.

Basic Marine Inc. provides new construction and marine repairs at its facility in Escanaba, MI.

The new case involves conditions found on a July 2011 inspection that was conducted as a follow-up to inspections conducted in March 2008.

The 2008 inspections, which led to several citations, were triggered by a referral from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration after a worker suffered an amputation injury.

‘Total Lack of Commitment’

Basic Marine provides shipbuilding, surface prep, painting and repair services for military, government and private clients at a 74,000-square-foot fabrication, shop and warehouse facility.

“Basic Marine has demonstrated a total lack of commitment to employee safety and health by repeatedly failing to protect its workers,” said Robert Bonack, director of OSHA’s Lansing Area Office.

“This situation is particularly egregious as the initial citations were issued after a worker was severely injured on the job.

“Whenever workers are injured, we expect that employers should be receptive to re-evaluating their safety and health programs to reduce the likelihood of more injuries, but this has not been the case with Basic Marine.”

Basic Marine did not respond Monday (Jan. 16) to a request for comment.

Repeat Violations

Most of the repeat violations, with fines totaling $40,040, involve painting operations. The repeat citations allege:

• Lack of annual fit testing for respirators;

• Lack of a hazard communication program for employees working with and around toxic coatings and hazardous chemicals;

• Lack of information and training for painters and other workers in confined spaces with potentially dangerous atmospheric conditions; and

• Lack of training of painters and others working with hazardous materials.

A fifth repeat violation alleges lack of machine guarding of an operating vertical band saw.

A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited for the same or a similar violation within five years. Similar violations were cited during the 2008 inspections.

Painting Violations

Serious health citations include allegations of painters working in confined spaces without:

• Testing to maintain safe atmospheric conditions;

• Posted atmospheric testing results;

• Properly evaluated respiratory protection;

• Required air-line respirators; or

• A practiced rescue crew.

Serious safety violations allege:

• Improper storage of xylene in the paint storage building; and

• Lack of nearby fire extinguishers in the paint storage building.

In addition, one other-than-serious citation alleges that painters spraying in confined spaces did not receive medical re-evaluations recommended by the site’s primary health care provider.

Other Violations

Other serious violations allege:

• Cranes being operated with broken parts and illegibly labeled function buttons;

• Lack of training about crane load ratings;

• Multiple inadequacies in the fire safety plan;

• Lack of fall protection while working from a lift;

• Inadequate training of forklift drivers and use of a defective forklift;

• Uncovered, unguarded manholes and deck openings;

• Trip hazards from uncovered cables and cords; and

• Lack of hardhats in areas at risk for falling objects.

Serious violations reflect “substantial probability” of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Basic Marine Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference, or contest the findings.


Tagged categories: Confined space; Fall protection; Health and safety; Industrial Contractors; Marine Coatings; OSHA; Painters; Regulations; Respirators; Shipyards; Surface preparation; Violations

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