Two shipyards face OSHA penalties

NOVEMBER 20, 2014 — Colonna's Shipyard, Inc., Norfolk, VA, and Austal USA LLC, Mobile, AL, have both been given citations by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and face penalties.

OSHA says that shipyard workers were "repeatedly exposed to life-threatening
safety and health hazards" at Colonna's facility.

The agency says that while welding the frame of a U.S. Navy vessel, a Colonna's worker was just one foot away from three open manholes that exposed the employee to potential falls of up to 30 feet.

These, and other alleged safety and health hazards, were cited against the shiprepairer, following a May 2014 OSHA inspection that had been initiated as part of the agency's Local Emphasis Program on shipbuilding and repair,

OSHA's investigation found 12 safety and health violations, including four repeat violations.

The company faces $101,000 in proposed penalties.

"Shipyard work is traditionally hazardous, with an injury and accident rate more than twice that of construction and general industry," said Dan DeWease, director of OSHA's Norfolk Area Office. "Colonna's Shipyard must do a better job of protecting workers from the dangers associated with this type of work. With the right safeguards, accidents are preventable."

In addition to the unguarded manholes, OSHA inspectors determined that fall protection was not provided for employees working on a barge, which exposed them to a potential fall of more than 18 feet. Inspectors also found that, because of defective equipment, employees were exposed to a number of electrical hazards while welding. Having been previously cited for similar hazards in 2010, the company received four repeat citations, carrying an $85,000 penalty. 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.

Colonna's Shipyard was also cited for four serious violations, with a $16,000 penalty, for expecting workers to use damaged electrical equipment and unguarded machinery. 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. Four additional violations were cited for other guarding, electrical and fire extinguisher hazards.

Colonna's Shipyard has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

AUSTAL

Austal USA LLC was cited by OSHA for 12 safety and health violations that involved fall and other hazards following a May 2014 complaint. Proposed penalties total $41,500.

"The government expects that contractors, such as Austal, should not only deliver a good product, but also conduct operations in a safe manner," said Joseph Roesler, OSHA's area director in Mobile. "The lack of attention to safety and health issues unnecessarily exposed employees to hazards at the Mobile facility, and these hazards need to be addressed and controlled throughout the shipbuilding process."

Nine serious citations were issued for lack of standard railings on all staircases, which exposed workers to fall] hazards; improperly secured gas cylinders; and failure to reduce the pressure in a compressed air device to less than 30-pounds-per-square inch when cleaning.

OSHA also cited the company for allowing worker overexposure to copper fumes during welding operations.

Other citations included failure to ensure workers followed safety procedures to prevent accidental machine startup and to protect workers from unguarded machinery.

Three other citations were issued for using temporary flexible cable instead of permanent wiring, improperly labeling hazardous chemicals and failure to ensure that temporary wiring was not damaged.

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.

OSHA says it has cited the Austal facility three times in the past five years. The company was issued citations for improper use of slings and maritime gear, poor walking and working surfaces, a lack of accident prevention signage and electrical hazards.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its 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.

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