OSHA fines pipe company for safety, health violations

September 13, 2005

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Portland, Ore.-based Northwest Pipe Co. and proposed penalties totaling $197,500 for exposing employees to safety and health hazards.

The citations alleged 38 serious safety violations, 15 serious health violations, and two other-than-serious violations following an inspection that began Jan. 19 at the company's Houston facility. The company employs 1,200 workers nationwide; about 105 are located in Houston.

Serious safety violations included inadequate machine guarding and unsafely stored steel coils. Also cited as serious was the company's failure to develop and train employees in lockout/tagout procedures to ensure machinery will not start up during maintenance or repair. Additional serious violations involved overloading powered industrial trucks and cranes; failing to maintain equipment properly; and numerous electrical violations, such as damaged flexible cords and circuit breakers that were installed in damp and wet locations. As serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Serious health citations were issued for failure to label containers and dip tanks properly; establish a written safety and health program; train employees to use hazardous chemicals safely; provide eye wash stations where caustic materials were being used; and provide ear protection for workers in high-noise-level areas.

Other-than-serious citations were issued for failing to mount fire extinguishers and to provide respiratory protection equipment.