Texas company to be fined more than $1 million by OSHA

Michael P. Tremoglie Dec. 30, 2011, 1:42pm


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced Dec. 28 that it has cited Piping Technology and Products Inc. of Houston for 13 willful and 17 serious violations of worker safety regulations at the company's Houston facility. The amount of fines sought total $1,013,000.

OSHA alleges that the company exposed workers to the risk of amputations and other serious injuries from dangerous machinery, as well as other hazards. A worker contacted OSHA earlier this year, alleging a lack of brakes on overhead cranes and unguarded presses at the company's facility on Holmes Road. This complaint triggered an investigation by OSHA's Houston South Area Office.

"Repeatedly ignoring the law while risking workers' lives and providing misleading information to federal investigators will not be tolerated," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Employers who endanger the lives and limbs of their employees must be held accountable."

According to the announcement, the inspection not only substantiated the complaint items, but it found that that employees were permitted to cut metal I-beams and pipes without the proper machine guarding, which exposed them to possible severe injuries. Inspectors also found that during machine maintenance, workers were exposed to the unexpected release of stored energy because of improper safeguards.

Piping Technology had been previously cited in 1986, 1994, 2004 and 2005. These citations specifically addressed the need to guard the band saws used in production processes. The company has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

Piping Technology and Products has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Houston South area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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