NJ Concrete Contractor Facing $154,000 in Fines for 18 Safety Violations

Alleged violations found at County Concrete Corp.'s East Orange facility include one willful lack of a lockout/tagout program and 16 serious violations

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The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited County Concrete Corp. of East Orange, N.J., for 18 alleged safety and health violations - including one classified as willful - found at the company's East Orange facility. OSHA's April investigation was initiated in response to a complaint alleging hazards related to silica, respirators, dust and noise. Proposed penalties total $153,900.

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The willful violation, with a $63,000 penalty, was due to the lack of an established lockout/tagout program, which prevents inadvertent machine start-ups, and the lack of equipment-specific procedures developed. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

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Sixteen serious violations, carrying a $90,900 penalty, include the company's failure to evaluate the workplace for permit-required confined spaces; inform employees of the existence, location and dangers of permit-required confined spaces; develop and implement a permit-required confined space program or written hazard communication program; and conduct periodic inspections of and provide employee training on energy control procedures. Additionally, the company did not develop and implement a monitoring program, establish and maintain an audiometric testing program, and provide training, for employees whose exposure exceeded the 8-hour time weighted average of 85 decibels; establish a written respiratory protection program; identify and evaluate the respiratory hazards in the workplace; provide a medical evaluation to determine the employee's ability to use a respirator; ensure that employees using tight fitting face piece respirators were fit tested prior to use and received effective training; properly store respirators; determine and implement administrative or engineering controls whenever feasible; provide effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area; and ensure employee's exposure to silica, in any 8-hour work shift of a 40-hour work week, did not exceed the 8-hour time weighted average limit. 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.

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One other-than-serious violation was also found because the employer did not provide Appendix D of the respiratory protection standard to workers wearing respirator protection. This citation carries no penalty. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/CountyConcrete_900137_0930_13.pdf and http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/CountyConcrete_899238_0930_13.pdf.

County Concrete Corp. has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Parsippany, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.