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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Trucking Companies Under OSHA Scrutiny

Alabama trucking company cited by US Department of Labor's OSHA for serious safety violations and other hazards; $56,700 proposed in penalties

Transportation injuries at work lead the list of industrial accidents and OSHA is now enforcing safety procedures to hopefully reduce trucking injuries. Historically the trucking and transportation industry has take a "hard line" position in defending workers' compensation claims of truckers. Truckers suffer many work-related claims because of the requirements to lift and carry objects in awkward positions.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited trucking company Alabama Motor Express Inc. in Ashford for 17 safety violations. OSHA opened an inspection in March under the agency's Site-Specific Targeting Program, which directs enforcement resources to workplaces with higher-than-average rates of injuries and illnesses. Proposed penalties total $56,700.

Thirteen serious violations include failing to perform a personal protective equipment hazard assessment; provide an eyewash station for workers exposed to corrosive chemicals; provide fire extinguisher training; provide training for forklift operators; provide guarding on a bench grinder and around an open pit; reduce the pressure on an air hose to less than 30 pounds per square inch for cleaning; store oxygen and acetylene cylinders at least 20 feet apart; and provide a hazard communication program. Additional violations include the improper use of electrical equipment, a missing inner electrical panel and failing to provide weatherproof enclosures for outlets in damp and wet locations. 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. The citations carry $55,800 in penalties.

Four other-than-serious violations involve failing to maintain the OSHA 300 log properly for reporting injuries and illnesses, establish a respiratory protection program, and protect electrical conductors from abrasion and close unused openings in the electrical panel. 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. The citations carry $900 in penalties.

"Employers cannot wait for an OSHA inspection to identify the hazards that expose workers to serious injury," said Joseph Roesler, OSHA's area director in Mobile. "It is good business to implement preventive programs to ensure that such hazards are identified and corrected as part of the company's day-to-day operations."

Alabama Motor Express, a trucking company, provides logistics, maintenance and fleet services. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Mobile Area Office at 251-441-6131.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit