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Port Firm Again in Hot Water with Feds

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

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Failure to address long-standing chemical and training hazards has led to a host of extremely serious safety and health violations and nearly $90,000 in fines against a marine maintenance company at the Port of Memphis.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Cummings Marine Service Inc. for 11 safety violations, most of them for failure to abate a long list of hazards for which the company was cited in 2009.

 Cummings Marine services fuel barges at the Port of Memphis, the fourth-largest inland port in the United States.

 Colliers International

Cummings Marine services fuel barges at the Port of Memphis, the fourth-largest inland port in the United States.

“This employer continues to put employees at risk of serious injury or death by failing to implement proper protections,” said William Cochran, OSHA’s area director in Nashville.

OSHA conducted a planned inspection of the facility in February 2009 and issued 20 citations—a case that remains open. Meanwhile, a complaint against the company led to a follow-up OSHA inspection in December 2011, when the new citations were issued. Proposed penalties in the new case total $89,420.

The company could not be reached Wednesday (June 27) for comment. The listed phone number was not operating.

Willful, Repeat Violations

Most of the new fine—$60,000—stems from two “failure-to-abate” violations that allege that Cummings Marine has failed to develop, implement and maintain a written hazard communication program for workers exposed to hazardous chemicals and has not trained workers to handle those chemicals.

A failure-to-abate violation is one committed when an employer fails to fix or address previously cited hazardous conditions, practices or noncompliant equipment.

OSHA also issued two repeat citations, carrying $9,240 in fines, for the company’s failure to secure acetylene cylinders from being knocked over and provide at least 90 feet of rope for life ring buoys. A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited for the same or a similar violation within five years.

The company also received a willful violation and $5,000 penalty for failure to have a respiratory protection program. A willful citation is a high-level OSHA infraction, reserved for violations committed with “intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law” or with “plain indifference to worker safety and health.”

Serious Violations

In addition, citations with $15,180 in penalties were issued for five serious violations, including failure to:

• Train workers in confined spaces;

• Provide a basket stretcher in case of an emergency;

• Test and certify a crane as operational;

• Provide a safe working load chart for the crane operator; and

• Prohibit the use of damaged regulators on oxygen and acetylene tanks used for cutting and welding.

Serious violations reflect hazards that carry substantial probability of death or serious injury.

A citation with no fine was also issued for failing to certify confined-space training.

The company, which provides maintenance for fuel barges, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.


Tagged categories: Health and safety; Marine; OSHA; Respirators; Violations; Worker training

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