Two Georgia companies have been cited by the regional office for the Occupational Safety & Health Administration for putting employees at risk – in one case, resulting in death.Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers know that employers have a moral and legal obligation to protect workers. The guidelines vary depending on the industry, but it’s a responsibility that they are required to take seriously. When they don’t, the result can be tragic.
Such was the case at a steel wire plant in Flowery Branch, where a worker was killed after he was caught in moving wire and subsequently pulled into rotating rolls.
The death prompted OSHA officials in the regional Atlanta office to investigate claims of unsafe working conditions. The worker died March 3, and investigators conducted an inspection immediately thereafter.
Investigators discovered one willful violation, 13 serious violations and five other-than-serious violations.
A willful violation is one in which the employer either knowingly puts workers in harms’ way or has a blatant disregard or plain indifference for the law. The company in this case was found to have failed to affix guardrails to the machine that ultimately killed this worker. There were also rotating parts on equipment throughout the plant, and workers were not provided protection from these.
Serious violations are those that occur when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical injury could occur from the hazard that an employer knew about or should have known about. For this employer, those violations included failure to:
- Provide an emergency eyewash station;
- Train authorized employees of hazardous energy sources;
- Properly label tanks and drums with corrosive materials;
- Protect employees from fall hazards.
Plus, the company failed to regularly inspect its equipment for safety or provide certain protective equipment, such as respirators.
As OSHA noted in its final report, the death of this worker was 100-percent preventable. As such, the company was fined about $145,000 and placed in the agency’s “Severe Violator Program,” which requires numerous, detailed government inspections to ensure compliance with government safety standards.
Another inspection at a recycling plant in Gainesville, Ga., thankfully was not prompted by a serious injury or death – but for all its violations, it’s a small wonder.
OSHA reported that the recycling company had 23 health and safety violations, including:
- Failure to create a lockout/tagout program for the control of energy sources during maintenance work;
- Exposing workers to welding fumes above the permissible limit;
- Allowing damaged forklifts to be operated;
- Improper installation of outlet boxes;
- Exposing workers to numerous fall and other hazards.
As a result, OSHA is recommending a $75,000 fine for these violations.
Each of these companies has 15 days to comply with the agency’s instructions or to contest the findings.
Workplace safety violations are not a minor problem. As illustrated here, they can have real and serious repercussions. If you see something, say something.
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., to speak with an experienced attorney. For a free consultation call 1-404-303-7770 today.