Saturday, July 18, 2009

Will Fines Hold Up After Appeal?

Will Fines Hold Up After Appeal?

Here comes the Appeal!

Here is the notice that the sub-contractor plans to file an appeal fines to Georgia DOL I'm interested in this incident and if and when a result of the appeal is posted I will update this Blog Entry.

Friday, Jul. 31, 2009

Subcontractor will appeal fines from fatal Robins accident

- tday@macon.com

ASM-Sanders Inc. notified the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration earlier this week that it will appeal the nearly $80,000 in fines levied by the Georgia Department of Labor in connection with a March 5 fatal accident at Robins Air Force Base. Jacky S. Brown, an ASM-Sanders subcontractor, died when a water pipe exploded while he was working on a construction project on the base.

The company was notified of OHSA’s decision July 16. It had 15 days to appeal the fines before the judgment became final.


Phone calls Thursday to ASM-Sanders regarding the accident were not returned.

The company is accused of allowing employees to work in a nearly six-foot deep trench without any reinforcement to keep the ditch from caving in, as well as three other minor safety violations. The citation that noted the lack of a ditch reinforcement was labeled a willful violation by OSHA and it alone carried a $63,000 fine.

The appeals process now goes to OHSA’s solicitor’s office, who will then file a formal complaint against the company. ASM-Sanders, if it follows form, will formally respond to the complaint. “Most of the time, the parties are trying to settle,” said G.T. Breezley, spokesman for the OHSA Atlanta-East Area office.

If no settlement is reached, the case will be adjudicated by the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

“About 95 percent of them are settled out of court,” Breezley said.

To contact military writer Thomas L. Day, call 744-4489.



Will Company Officials be penalized for Directives to Safety Inspector?

The article below from The Sun Times by Thomas L. Day indicates a closer to the proper fines for the violations than the usual rates that typically reduce fines after an Informal Appeal by a company guilty of violations related to trenching safety.

There is a worse violation that is noted in this article. That being the instructions of Company Management to the Safety Inspector to KEEP QUIET and/or FALSIFY SAFETY Reports. That is just plain Perjury on the Company's Management's instructions.

Not only are these Management personnel violating Federal Law, this type personnel are a major cause of Donkey and Management attitudes to try to "get around" OSHA regulations to save a penny at the fatal cost of their workers. This company should be prosecuted to the full extent of the Law. There is NO Horse Sense in this type management.

Robins contractor cited for safety violations; fined nearly $80,000

- tday@macon.com

The U.S. Department of Labor cited ASM-Sanders Inc., an Alabama-based contractor that provides construction support for Robins Air Force Base, for worker safety violations after a March accident killed one worker. Jacky S. Brown died March 5 from a severe blow to the head after a chilled water pipe exploded.

According to the Department of Labor, Brown and his co-workers were testing a water pipe by filling it with compressed air, disregarding the manufacturer’s recommendation that the pipe instead be tested with liquids.

The company also was cited for employing workers in a 5-foot-6-inch trench without means of egression and without protection from a possible cave-in.

The latter was cited as a “willful violation” of employee safety and carried with it a $63,000 fine.

In total, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hit ASM-Sanders with four safety violations and nearly $80,000 in fines.

A spokeswoman from ASM-Sanders refused to comment on the citation.

The company may appeal the fines to OSHA within 15 business days, though the company is ordered to correct the violations by today.

After Brown’s death, a former ASM-Sanders safety inspector told OSHA that he was ordered by his superiors to falsify safety reports. “I was told to keep quiet and that was the way we would handle all accidents,” Mike Hill said in the letter dated May 5, 2009.

Hill claims he was fired the day he faxed his letter to OSHA.

The company also was cited for employing workers in a 5-foot-6-inch trench without means of egression and without protection from a possible cave-in.

The latter was cited as a “willful violation” of employee safety and carried with it a $63,000 fine.

In total, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hit ASM-Sanders with four safety violations and nearly $80,000 in fines.

A spokeswoman from ASM-Sanders refused to comment on the citation.

The company may appeal the fines to OSHA within 15 business days, though the company is ordered to correct the violations by today.

After Brown’s death, a former ASM-Sanders safety inspector told OSHA that he was ordered by his superiors to falsify safety reports. “I was told to keep quiet and that was the way we would handle all accidents,” Mike Hill said in the letter dated May 5, 2009.

Hill claims he was fired the day he faxed his letter to OSHA.






Wednesday, July 1, 2009

More OSHA Needed

Texans Say, "More OSHA Needed"

The article below from The Statesman.com by Juan Castillo makes good points about the lack of enough OSHA inspectors available to investigate incidents on construction job sites, but surely not enough to make Routine, unannounced work site inspections.

While OSHA officials state that ALL of their inspections are unannounced, that is not wholly true. Incident or complaint calls for inspections are not unannounced, but requested by owners or contractors..

As long as OSHA investigates incidents "after the facts," issues a fairly sizable fine, then has an informal review and cuts the fine amounts down to a slight touch on the wrist, they will never get the attention of the guilty companies. If these sizable fines are upheld OSHA could use fine funds to increase the number of inspectors available. In other words, "Let the guilty parties pay for their shortcomings."


Construction safety crackdown not enough, Austin group says


Construction safety crackdown not enough, Austin group says

An Austin-based workers advocacy group is calling for a permanent increase in the number of federal inspectors who enforce safety standards at construction sites in Texas.

The Workers Defense Project said Monday’s announcement that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will temporarily increase the number of its inspectors in Texas is “a good first step,” but not enough.

A report released this month by the workers group depicted rampant dangerous conditions in Austin’s commercial and residential construction industry. The study, “Building Austin, Building Injustice,” said that OSHA is ill-equipped to investigate safety violations. It also noted that Texas led the nation with 142 construction-related deaths in 2007.

In announcing the Texas enforcement initiative Monday, the Department of Labor said the state had 67 construction-related deaths in 2008; 33 so far this year.

On June 10, three construction workers died in a scaffolding collapse at a high-rise apartment construction project near the University of Texas. OSHA is investigating.

Citing Department of Labor data, “Building Austin, Building Injustice” said OSHA had a total of 77 inspectors in Texas in 2008, when the state had 10.2 million workers. That represented the fourth worst investigators-to-workforce ratio in the country.

A Department of Labor spokeswoman would not say Monday how many investigators will descend on Texas from other states for the construction industry safety enforcement blitz which begins tomorrow and continues through August. OSHA could decide to increase or repeat the initiative after evaluating results.

“We’re glad to see there is going to be more inspections and hopefully this will prevent a lot of needless deaths,” said Mike Cunningham, executive director of the Texas Building and Construction Trades Council of the AFL-CIO. “Workers should be able to put a day’s work and go home safely every day.”

Workers Defense Project director Cristina Tzintz├╣n also called for OSHA to conduct more unannounced inspections at construction sites, explaining that workers have said employers often know when inspectors are coming.

A Labor Department spokeswoman, however, said all of OSHA’s inspections at construction sites are unannounced.

Cunningham said that in his 38 years in the business he did not recall OSHA inspecting a site unless it was in response to a death, accident or worker-generated complaint.