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Pipe Maker Fined $469K in Repeat Case

Thursday, March 8, 2012

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A Texas pipe manufacturer is facing 36 federal citations and nearly $470,000 in fines for a variety of serious and repeat health and safety violations at its facility in Baytown.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued 11 repeat, 23 serious and two other-than-serious safety and health violations to JSW Steel (USA) after a September inspection that was triggered by several employee complaints about hazardous working conditions.

 JSW’s Pipe Division near Houston operates one of the largest DSAW mills in the world

 JSW

JSW’s Pipe Division near Houston operates one of the largest DSAW mills in the world. The facility also provides coating and other services.

JSW, part of the O.P. Jindal Group, is the largest private-sector steel manufacturer in terms of installed capacity. An integrated manufacturer, it offers a variety of fabrication-related services, including pipe coating, for the infrastructure, marine, construction and other sectors.

The company did not respond to a request Wednesday (March 7) for comment.

Severe Violator Program

In addition to the inspection launched by the complaints, OSHA conducted a site-specific target inspection. The Site-Specific Targeting Program focuses on establishments with high rates of injuries and illnesses.

In the end, the citations and $469,420 in proposed fines landed JSW Steel in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections for what OSHA calls “recalcitrant employers.”

“This company has operated in a way that disregards the safety and health of its employees," said John Hermanson, OSHA's regional administrator in Dallas. "OSHA will not tolerate employers that do not protect their workers."

Repeat Violations

OSHA previously inspected the plant in November 2008 and later issued 29 serious, two repeat and three other-than-serious violations. The original fine of $146,500 was later reduced to $63,750.

In the current case, the repeat violations include alleged failure to:

• Provide covers for open pits and floor holes;

• Develop and conduct periodic inspections for lockout/tagout procedures for energy sources;

• Have fire extinguishers mounted and readily available;

• Remove damaged rigging and lifting devices from service;

• Provide required machine guarding for rotating parts; and

• Properly label hazardous chemical containers.

A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited for the same or a similar violation within five years.

Serious, Other Violations

The serious violations allege numerous electrical hazards as well as failure to:

• Cover floor openings, guard open-sided platforms, and provide railings along walkways above dangerous equipment;

• Ensure emergency-exit stairways were wide enough;

• Secure compressed-gas cylinders;

• Have employees use goggles, gloves and other personal protective equipment; and

• Follow lockout/tagout procedures for cranes.

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

The other-than-serious violations allege failure to evaluate the workplace for respiratory hazards and to provide training on the use of filtering face pieces.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the case.

   

Tagged categories: Construction; Health and safety; OSHA; Pipeline; Pipelines; Steel; Violations

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