WESTBURY, N.Y. (WorkersCompensation.com) – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Simtek Inc. for alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards as well as failing to correct eight hazardous conditions cited during a 2011 OSHA inspection that was prompted by a worker injury. The Amityville metal fabrication shop faces a total of $138,765 in proposed fines based on the latest inspection for new, recurring and uncorrected hazards.
"This employer was required to correct all hazards cited during our last inspection and had ample opportunity to do so, yet almost half of the violations were never corrected while others were allowed to recur," said Anthony Ciuffo, director of OSHA's Long Island Area Office, which is located in Westbury. "The sizable fines proposed here reflect both the severity of these hazards – which expose workers to potential amputation and crushing injuries, and electrocution – as well as this employer's unacceptable failure to effectively correct them."
OSHA originally cited Simtek in June 2011 for 20 violations of workplace safety standards, including missing or incomplete energy control procedures and various electrical hazards. The proposed penalties from that inspection total $60,600.
The agency initiated a follow-up inspection in January of this year to verify whether the cited hazards had been abated. Inspectors found that Simtek still had not developed and put into use energy control procedures to lock out machines' power sources to prevent them from starting up during maintenance, nor had the company provided training and tools to workers who perform the maintenance. It also had failed to correct several electrical hazards such as misused electrical equipment, unused electrical openings, uncovered electrical cabinets and electrical cords that were spliced and lacked strain relief.
These uncorrected hazards have resulted in notices issued for failing to abate eight violations. The notices carry $109,725 in fines. A failure-to-abate violation is one committed when an employer fails to fix or address previously cited hazardous conditions, practices or noncompliant equipment.
Additionally, citations with $26,400 in fines have been issued for four repeat violations involving hazards similar to those cited during the previous inspection. These include a locked exit door, misused electrical equipment and unprotected power cords. 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.
Finally, a citation with a $2,640 fine has been issued for one serious violation involving circuit breakers blocked by a gas tank and a welding machine. 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.
"An effective illness and injury prevention program in which workers and managers work together to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions can prevent injuries from occurring in the first place," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
Due to the failure-to-abate and repeat violations as well as the nature of the hazards, OSHA has placed Simtek in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing certain willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. For more information on the program, visit http://s.dol.gov/J3.
Simtek has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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