A Texas-based cement manufacturing company's alleged failure to properly protect its workers from safety and health hazards at its cement products plant in Middleboro, Mass., has resulted in proposed penalties of $71,200 from the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA cited Pavestone Inc. for 18 alleged serious, three alleged repeat and nine alleged other-than-serious violations of safety and health standards. OSHA's Braintree area office began an inspection Dec. 28, 2005, in response to a report that a worker's arm was crushed by a hydraulic device while working on a conveyor belt. The inspection found that a safety switch had been bypassed and lockout procedures were not in place.

"Workers were exposed to the hazards of crushing, falls, electrocution, burns, and respiratory illness," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for southeastern Massachusetts. "If the company had followed OSHA's safeguarding standards, this unfortunate accident may have been avoided."

Safety hazards included unguarded portions of the conveyor belt, fall hazards, propane tanks exposed to damage, electrocution hazards and defects involving a hoist and lifting slings. Health hazards included employee's overexposure to silica, inadequate engineering controls to reduce silica and dust levels, deficient respirator and confined space entry programs, lack of annual audiograms for all workers exposed to high noise levels, ladder misuse, and incomplete illness and injury logs.

A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm are likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. A repeat citation is issued when an employer has previously been cited for a similar hazard and that citation has become final. An other-than-serious citation is issued for a condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.