The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Conner Steel Products Ltd. in San Angelo, Texas, for failing to protect employees adequately from health and safety hazards involving respiratory protection, fire protection, confined spaces and material-handling devices. OSHA is proposing penalties totaling $79,760.

OSHA personnel cited the company for two alleged serious violations, six repeat and two failure-to-abate violations of the health and safety standards in two inspections initiated on March 22 as a follow-up to earlier OSHA inspections. In 2005, a joint safety and health complaint inspection resulted in 54 violations with a total proposed penalty of $78,800. OSHA and the company entered into a settlement agreement for penalties totaling $44,160, provided the employer complied with and corrected the violations. However, in the follow-up visit of March 22, OSHA found that the employer failed to correct several hazards.

"Although the company corrected most of its previous violations, the company continues to employ certain procedures that pose safety and health risks to its employees," said Eric Harbin, OSHA's area office director in Austin.

Serious violations included failing to install rigging devices properly on a crane, which could result in injury if the load disengaged and overexposure to particulates in a welding process occurred. Repeat violations included respiratory hazards, confined-space hazards and injury and illness recordkeeping discrepancies. The employer only partially abated one violation where eyewash stations were necessary to prevent corrosive chemical splashes from causing permanent injury, and the company failed to install a sprinkler system to extinguish fires, as required by a previous OSHA inspection.

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. A repeat violation is cited when the same or a similar hazardous condition is repeated within a period of three years. A failure-to-abate citation is issued when a citation has become a final order and the employer does not correct the violation within a specified time.

Conner Steel Products Ltd. produces metal tanks and employs approximately138 people at its San Angelo plant.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply with the request, participate in an informal conference with OSHA's Austin area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.