OSHA Proposes Fines Exceeding $1 Million to Employer in Houston, TX
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified Houston, Texas based Piping Technology and Products Inc. for citations amounting to over $1 million for 17 serious and 13 willful OSHA violations. The citations accuse the company of exposing workers to undue amputation hazards and increased risks for other serious injuries from the operation of machinery, in addition to sharing false information with the government. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis’ stated, “Repeatedly ignoring the law while risking workers’ lives and providing misleading information to federal investigators will not be tolerated.”
An anonymous employee at Piper Technology blew the whistle to OSHA earlier in the year asserting claims of machinery neglect such as a lack of brakes on cranes, and unsupervised presses, creating serious health hazards. The accusation prompted an OSHA investigation which found that employees were required to cut metal beams and pipes without adequate guarding, and perform routine machine maintenance without proper safeguards. The willful violations include failure to guard seven band saws and failure to adequately secure sources of excessive energy in six pieces of equipment before begin serviced. The 17 serious violations include failure to guard grinders and other machines adequately, neglecting to secure the openings on electrical equipment, failing to provide adequate fall protection training, and lack of helmet-wearing enforcement.
Piping Technology had been cited previously in 1986, 1994, 2004, and 2005 for the same violations and has been placed into OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program which ensures compliance through follow-up inspections.
[Update with response from Piping]
“Piping Technology & Products maintains a safe workplace for its employees. We started out in a garage in Southeast Houston and we’ve grown the company to nearly 600 employees over the last 30+ years. All the while, we’ve maintained employee safety as our #1 priority. And we think the data supports it.
Regarding the citations and proposed fines just issued by OSHA, we disagree with the conclusions that OSHA has reached. We look forward to working with OSHA to resolve the situation.
Throughout OSHA’s recent inspection of our facility, the men and women of Piping Technology, including members of our safety team, our department supervisors, our management and our other employees have fully cooperated with OSHA inspectors.”