The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited RWS Manufacturing Inc. for twenty eight violations, including willful, repeat and serious violations of workplace health and safety standards. The company manufactures wood shavings for animal bedding.
The proposed fines total $233,870. The OSHA area director stated, “The sizable penalties proposed here reflect the breadth and severity of the hazardous conditions found at this plant. Left uncorrected, they exposed workers to the dangers of fires and explosions, engulfment, toxic or oxygen-deficient atmospheres, hearing loss, struck-by injuries, amputation, electrocution, and hazardous chemicals. The fact that a catastrophic incident has not occurred does not absolve this employer of its responsibility to reduce and prevent risk and eliminate hazards that could injure or kill its workers.”
The inspection revealed hazardous accumulations of explosive, combustible wood dust on structural supports, pipes, fixtures, ductwork, equipment and floors. The wood shavings were as deep as one foot in some areas and created a fall and slipping hazard.
Also, the plant failed to develop and implement a confined space entry program and provide training, warning signs and retrieval systems to protect workers in confined spaces. Workers exposed to excessive noise levels were not provided a hearing conservation program, training, a choice of hearing protection and audiometric testing. Respirator users were not provided necessary information. There was a lack of information and training on hazardous chemicals, and powered industrial trucks were not inspected and were operated by untrained operators.
Required guarding and fire watches were not used and maintained when welding near flammable wood shavings. Other hazards were also present, including: unguarded moving machine parts, exposed live electrical parts, ungrounded equipment and improperly stored oxygen cylinders.
RWS was issued two willful citations ($107,800), twenty five serious citations ($118,370) and one repeat citation ($7,700) for a total fine of $233,870.
Pulgini & Norton, LLP attorneys have handled workers’ compensation claims for over 25 years in and around Boston and its surrounding areas. If you or a family member has been injured at work and would like to seek legal assistance, please contact us at (781) 843-2200 or (888) 344-2046 or email us.
Queensbury, NY, wood shavings manufacturer faces $233,870 in fines for combustible dust, confined space, chemical, mechanical, electrical hazards: RWS Manufacturing Inc. cited by US Labor Department’s OSHA after complaint, osha.gov, May 23, 2013
Manufacturing plant cited by OSHA, CBS6 Albany, May 23, 2013