Personal Injury

Alabama manufacturer gets steep OSHA fines for endangering workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Birmingham, Alabama, office has rebuked a fabrication company based in Albertville, Ala., for disregarding the health and safety of its employees by ignoring several federal safety regulations. OSHA issued 19 safety citations to FABCO Equipment Co. following an investigation at its Albertville facility. Penalties for the violations total $71,764.

OSHA investigators identified the workplace hazards while conducting a follow-up investigation to one conducted in November 2009. The investigation resulted in one failure-to-abate health citation with a proposed penalty of $7,700, alleging the company failed to train employees in using and handling hazardous chemicals. OSHA issues a failure-to-abate citation when an employer fails to fix or address hazardous conditions, practices, or noncompliant equipment for which they were previously cited.

“This employer has continued to endanger its workers by failing to correct hazardous conditions,” said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA’s area director in Birmingham. “OSHA has no tolerance for this type of behavior.”

OSHA also slapped FABCO with four repeat violations resulting in fines of $24,794. The citations alleged an unsafe lack of machine guarding, electrical deficiencies, a failure to provide medical evaluations for employees wearing respiratory protection, and not certifying that it abided by critical safety protocol in dealing with hazardous substances.

OSHA inspectors also discovered a number of serious violations at FABCO’s facilities involving dangerous, unsafeguarded machinery; misuse of heavy machinery; more serious electrical deficiencies; and a failure to protect and train its workers in dealing with dangerous levels of noise and toxic substances compounded by the lack of safety plans that instruct workers how to deal with workplace hazards. FABCO’s serious violations resulted in more than $39,000 in fines.

Sadly, in an age of deregulation, just one OSHA inspector exists for every 60,000 workers in the U.S. and restrictive budgets might paralyze the regulatory agency’s ability to ensure safe working conditions for Americans even further. Some companies take full advantage of this under-regulated environment by exposing their workers to serious risk of injury and death in an effort to raise profits. Tragically, whenever a worker is seriously injured or killed on the job, a devastated family is left in the wake and it’s the American taxpayer who is left with the biggest financial burden.