The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations against U.S. Bricks Inc., doing business as Hanson Bricks in Elgin, Texas, for alleged violations of safety and health standards. Proposed penalties total $55,000.

OSHA's citations alleged 17 serious violations and one other-than-serious violation following an investigation that began Oct. 11. The agency received a complaint after an employee had his arm caught in a conveyor belt during maintenance operations at the company's facility on 506 Highway 290.

"U.S. Bricks did not have an effective lockout/tag-out procedure," said Eric Harbin, OSHA's Austin area office director. "If the company had followed OSHA's safeguards to prevent an unexpected release of energy to machines, this accident may well have been avoided."

Alleged serious violations included failure to: ensure machines are locked out during positioning operations; provide adequate machine guarding for conveyor pulleys; protect employees from electrical hazards; train employees in the use of hazardous chemicals; identify respiratory hazards, and ensure workers are trained to administer first aid in emergency situations.

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

The other-than-serious citation was issued for failure to train and certify forklift operators.

U.S. Bricks is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. The company employs approximately 1,500 people nationwide, about 60 of whom work in Elgin.