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Cranesville Aggregate Company, doing business as Scotia Bag Plant, Scotia, N.Y., faces a total of $509,000 in proposed fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The plant, which bags cement and asphalt, has been cited for 33 alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of workplace safety and health standards following comprehensive OSHA inspections over the past six months.
"The significant fines proposed here reflect the breadth and gravity of hazards found at this plant, their recurring nature and this employer's knowledge," said acting Assistant Secretary for OSHA Jordan Barab.
"Workers have been needlessly exposed to potentially disabling or fatal respiratory illness, falls, crushing injuries, burns, lacerations, amputation and electrocution," added Edward Jerome, OSHA's area director in Albany. "This employer needs to take effective and ongoing corrective action to protect the health and safety of these workers."
OSHA found that plant employees who bagged cement were exposed to excess levels of cement dust without adequate ventilation, respiratory protection, personal protective equipment and training. In addition, the plant did not evaluate and identify respiratory hazards, train forklift operators or prevent an employee from working under a suspended load. As a result, OSHA has issued the plant six willful citations, with $375,000 in fines. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
Seven repeat citations, with $75,000 in fines, have been issued for conditions similar to those cited in earlier OSHA inspections of Cranesville facilities in Kingston, Glens Falls and Fishkill, N.Y. These included an unsanitary workplace, unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals, and fall and electrical hazards. Twenty serious citations, with $59,000 in fines, have been issued for ineffective respirator training, a lack of personal protective equipment, a lack of emergency eyewashes, obstructed exits, unguarded machinery, and additional forklift and electrical hazards. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.
"One means through which employers can prevent recurring hazards is an effective safety and health management system in which they work with employees to evaluate, identify and eliminate hazards," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.