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Repeat Hazards May Cost Yards $142K

Friday, November 21, 2014

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One shipbuilder and one ship repair facility have each been hit with a dozen health and safety violations after exposing workers to numerous fall and other hazards, federal officials allege.

Colonna's Shipyard Inc., a ship repair facility in Norfolk, VA, faces $101,000 in proposed penalties for 12 health and safety violations, including four repeat.

Mobile, AL-based Austal USA LLC was also cited for 12 safety and health violations with proposed penalties totaling $41,500.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced both sets of citations and proposed fines Wednesday (Nov. 19).

Colonna's Shipyard
Colonna's Shipyard Inc.

OSHA fined Colonna's Shipyard in Norfolk, VA, $101,000 after inspectors discovered a worker welding only a foot away from manholes that exposed fall hazards of up to 30 feet.

Colonna's Shipyard repairs U.S. Navy vessels, tugboats, barges and ferryboats. Austal USA is a global contractor, designer and manufacturer of defense and commercial ships.

Neither company immediately responded to a request for comment Thursday (Nov. 20).

'Must Do a Better Job'

OSHA initiated a May 2014 inspection at Colonna's Shipyard as part of the agency's Local Emphasis Program on shipbuilding and repair, and the agency said it found a shipyard worker welding the frame of a U.S. Navy vessel while only one foot away from three manholes that exposed the employee to fall hazards of up to 30 feet.

"Shipyard work is traditionally hazardous, with an injury and accident rate more than twice that of construction and general industry," said Dan DeWease, director of OSHA's Norfolk Area Office.

"Colonna's Shipyard must do a better job of protecting workers from the dangers associated with this type of work. With the right safeguards, accidents are preventable."

OSHA also found that fall protection was not provided for employees working on a barge where they were exposed to potential falls of over 18 feet.

4 Repeat Violations

Colonna's Shipyard was hit with four repeat violations totaling $85,000 in penalties after OSHA discovered defective equipment that exposed workers to electrical hazards while welding. Colonna's Shipyard was cited for similar hazards in 2010.

A repeat violation exists when an employer has been previously cited for the same or similar violation at any of its facilities in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

OSHA citations
Colonna's Shipyard Inc.

"Shipyard work is traditionally hazardous, with an injury and accident rate more than twice that of construction and general industry," said Dan DeWease, director of OSHA's Norfolk Area Office.

Four serious violations were also cited for exposing workers to damaged electrical equipment and unguarded machinery.

A serious violation is one that OSHA says occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard the employer knew or should have known about.

Four other-than-serious citations, which carry no proposed penalties, were issued for guarding, electrical and fire extinguisher hazards.

'Lack of Attention'

OSHA launched an inspection at Austal USA in May 2014 after receiving a complaint.

According to OSHA, the facility has been cited three times in the past five years. Previous citations include improper use of slings and maritime gear, poor walking and working surfaces, lack of accident prevention signage and electrical hazards.

"The government expects that contractors, such as Austal, should not only deliver a good product, but also conduct operations in a safe manner," said Joseph Roesler, OSHA's area director in Mobile.

Austal USA
Austal Ships

According to OSHA, Austal USA's Mobile, AL, facility has been cited three times in the past five years.

"The lack of attention to safety and health issues unnecessarily exposed employees to hazards at the Mobile facility, and these hazards need to be addressed and controlled throughout the shipbuilding process."

Austal USA's Citations

Citations, including nine serious, were issued for:

  • Lack of standard railings on all staircases, which exposed workers to fall hazards;
  • Improperly secures gas cylinders;
  • Failing to reduce the pressure in a compressed air device to less then 30-pounds-per-square inch when cleaning;
  • Allowing worker overexposure to copper fumes during welding operations;
  • Failing to ensure workers followed safety procedures to prevent accidental machine startup;
  • Failing to protect workers from unguarded machinery;
  • Using temporary flexible cable instead of permanent wiring;
  • Improperly labeling hazardous chemicals; and
  • Failing to ensure that temporary wiring was not damaged.

Both companies have 15 days from receiving the citations to comply, contest the findings, or request an informal conference with OSHA's area director.

   

Tagged categories: Fall protection; Health & Safety; Health and safety; North America; OSHA; Shipyards; Workers

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