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Saturday, August 4, 2012

OSHA Sanctions Chicago Company With $325,700 in Fines for Safety Violations


OSHA cites A. Finkl & Sons in Chicago for 26 safety violations, including failing to maintain cranes and places the company into the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.


The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited specialty metal forgings producer A. Finkl & Sons Co. with 26 safety violations at the company's Chicago facility, including two willful violations that involve failing to provide fall protection around open pits and rectify multiple hazards found in crane inspections. Proposed penalties total $352,700.

OSHA initiated an inspection in February after receiving a complaint alleging that cranes used in the facility were in disrepair, including having malfunctioning hoisting brakes, and that powered industrial trucks were being operated by untrained workers.

Specifically, the willful violations are failing to ensure that open pits are guarded by standard railings and/or covers to protect employees from falling in, and failing to correct deficiencies identified by crane inspections such as missing bolts, inoperable radio controls, and problems with bridges, trolleys and main hoist brakes. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Twenty-two serious violations involve failing to install hoist guards on industrial cranes, ensure that independent hoisting units on all cranes that handle hot metal have at least two holding brakes, ensure that all crane trolleys and bridges are equipped with brakes that have ample thermal capacity for the equipment's frequency of operation and which prevent the impairment of functions due to overheating, ensure that a thorough inspection of all crane ropes is completed, ensure that loads are lifted in a manner to prevent swinging on cranes and have a responsible person on-site with knowledge of cranes. Other violations include failing to ensure that ladders are placed in a manner that provides secure footing for workers, store liquefied petroleum gas containers away from stairways or other exit areas, adequately outline the rules for lockout/tagout procedures, guard live electrical parts over 50 volts, protect electrical conductors entering boxes from abrasion, and visually inspect portable plug- and cord-connected equipment for defects. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

One repeat violation involves failing to ensure that powered industrial trucks are examined prior to being placed into service as well as keep the trucks in a clean condition, free from lint, excess oil and grease. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. A similar violation was cited in 2006 at the same facility.

One other-than-serious violation is failing to create, certify and post the OSHA 300A summary log of injuries and illnesses or an equivalent form for the year 2011 by Feb. 1, 2012. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

"A. Finkl & Sons Co. has demonstrated a blatant disregard for the safety of its employees. When employers fail in their responsibility to provide a safe workplace, OSHA will take all necessary action to protect workers on the job," said Nick Walters, OSHA's regional administrator in Chicago.

Due to the willful and repeat violations and the nature of the hazards, OSHA has placed A. Finkl & Sons Co. in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. For more information about the program, visit http://s.dol.gov/J3.

The company previously has been inspected by OSHA 24 times since 1970, with 17 inspections resulting in citations for various violations. The two most recent previous inspections, in 2006 and 2007, resulted in citations for willful and repeat violations related to fire and fall hazards.

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/AFinklandSons_191122.pdf.

A. Finkl & Sons Co. employs 398 workers at its Chicago plant. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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