The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Mid-South Steel Inc. of Cape Girardeau, Mo., for three alleged willful, 10 serious and one other-than-serious violation of federal health and safety standards following a programmed inspection at the facility. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $148,500.

OSHA initiated its inspection as part of its amputations emphasis program, which was established to reduce amputation hazards in general industry workplaces. The inspection was expanded to include fall hazards, respiratory protection elements and confined space issues.

Mid-South Steel Products Inc. manufactures and installs steel storage tanks for the petroleum industry.

“Mid-South Steel Products failed to take appropriate action to protect its employees,” said Charles E. Adkins, CIH, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City. “Employers must remain committed to keeping the workplace safe and healthful.”

The alleged willful violations address fall hazards while working from the top of free standing steel tanks and from a platform; multiple respiratory protection program violations, including no fit testing, no respirator maintenance, no high temperature or carbon monoxide alarm on oil-lubricated compressor, no training and no consultation with employees on respirator use. Additional willful citations included multiple confined space program violations, including no program evaluation, no program implementation, no ventilation during spray painting, no air monitoring, no completion of an entry permit, no training for the entrants and attendants, and no confined space rescue measures or equipment provided during entry. Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

Among the alleged serious violations are hazards associated with noise monitoring; smoking in a spray room; no lockout/tagout training to prevent accidental equipment start-ups; unsafe stacking of steel tanks; compressed gas cylinders not protected from falling; exposure to toluene exceeding the ceiling and peak limits; lack of engineering controls during exposure while spray painting within tanks; and, no chemical hazard communication training for employees exposed to products such as solvents. Serious violations are those which could result in death or serious physical harm about which the employer knew or should have known.

The other-than-serious citation is associated with an abrasive blasting respirator that was shared among users and not cleaned between usages. Mid-South Steel has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.