Yard's 3rd OSHA Strike Nets $243k Fine

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2015


Cited over and over for similar hazards, including one that cost a worker his arm, a Michigan shipbuilder must now answer to 18 new federal citations and $242,940 in penalties.

New Occupational Safety and Health Administration citations against Basic Marine Inc. of Escanaba, MI, detail three willful, five repeat and 10 serious violations for a variety of hazards, including some related to the company's painting operations. The new case has also landed Basic Marine in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

The new citations follow an August 2014 follow-up inspection of the 74,000-square-foot shipbuilding facility, which fabricates, paints, repairs and maintains steel vessels for the military, government and commercial sectors.

Basic Marine did not respond Friday (Feb. 20) to a request for comment.

Machinery, Fall Hazards

The willful violations—OSHA's highest level of infraction—allege egregious dangers posed by unguarded manholes, unprotected edges and unguarded equipment.

In 2013, fatal falls, slips or trips took the lives of 699 workers. Fall and machine hazards are the most frequently cited OSHA standards.

Willful violations are those "committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health," according to OSHA.

Fines for the three willful violations total $200,500.

ShipPainting ShipPainting2 ShipPainting
OSHA

OSHA details marine coating hazards, related standards and protection requirements on its Ship Repair page.

"Basic Marine continues to maintain an environment where employees are blamed if they're injured by dangerous machinery, and it fosters a culture where safety precautions are considered unnecessary," said Larry Johnson, area director of OSHA's Lansing Area Office.

OSHA History

The shipyard has tangled with OSHA since a March 2008 inspection, which followed an accident that resulted in the amputation of a worker's arm. That inspection led to several citations.

A follow-up inspection in July 2011 led to a fresh round of 32 citations, most of which involved health and safety violations in the painting operations. Those allegations included repeated violations of respiratory and confined-space standards; lack of training; improper storage of chemicals; and lack of fire extinguishers in the paint storage building.

Fines in that case totaled $147,840. OSHA's enforcement database was unavailable Friday to determine the status of the two earlier cases.

New Painting Violations

The new painting-related citations allege a range of lapses in respiratory protection for painters applying solvent-based marine coatings, often in confined spaces.

Basic Marine Inc.

Basic Marine conducts repairs and inspections at its 2,300-ton floating drydock. OSHA has placed the Michigan shipyard in the Severe Violators Enforcement Program.

The serious allegations include:

  • Lack of a qualified administrator to oversee the respiratory protection program;
  • Inappropriate and inadequate respiratory protection;
  • Failure to ensure that painters' respirators were cleaned and disinfected; and
  • Carelessly stored respirators.

The repeat allegations include:

  • Failure to evaluate respiratory hazards for painters;
  • Lack of respirator fit testing for painters working in confined spaces; and
  • Inadequate respiratory equipment for painters.

Serious violations reflect hazards that can cause death or serious injury; repeat violations may be issued if an employer was cited for the same or a similar violation within five years.

Basic Marine has 15 days from receipt of the citations to contest them.

Said Johnson: "Even when workers are harmed, the company is reluctant to re-evaluate its safety and health programs, and that's wholly unacceptable."

   

Tagged categories: Confined space; Fall protection; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Marine; Marine Coatings; North America; OSHA; Respiratory Protection Standard; Shipyards; Solventborne coatings

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