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Ignoring OSHA Citations Results in Over $77,000 in Penalties
TAMPA, Fla. -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Kirkplan Kitchens and Bath Fort Myers, Inc., and has proposed a $46,000 penalty after a return inspection to the Fort Myers plant confirmed that the company had failed to correct a dangerous condition observed during a prior inspection. Assessed, but as yet unpaid, penalties since OSHA's first inspection now total $77,525.
OSHA initially inspected Kirkplan Kitchens on Aug. 1, 2003, after receiving information that employees were being exposed to serious safety hazards. The company was issued a citation for five alleged serious violations with a proposed penalty of $1,425.
"This company could have contacted us to discuss the citations and penalties," said Les Grove, OSHA's Tampa area director. "They had 15 working days to do this or to exercise other options, but they chose to do nothing."
Grove added that company officials could have abated the hazards and paid the proposed penalties, or they could have contested OSHA's action before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
After the company failed to provide certification to OSHA that the hazards had been corrected, an investigator returned to the facility. During this Nov. 24 inspection, employees were again observed exposed to two of the cited hazards -- an unguarded table saw and improperly stored flammable liquid. The proposed penalties for these reported "failure-to-abate" violations, which now included the number of days employees continued to be exposed to the hazards, rose to $22,500.
The investigator also observed new electrical hazards and the use of unapproved plastic piping to distribute compressed air throughout the plant, exposing employees to the danger of exploding pipes. These citations carried proposed penalties of $7,600.
After again failing to hear from the company, OSHA returned to the facility for a third time on March 5, and observed that unauthorized plastic piping was still being used to carry compressed air throughout the plant. The proposed penalty for this hazard, $2,000, was increased to $46,000, based on a formula in the Occupational Safety and Health Act which is the original penalty amount multiplied by the number of days the hazard remained unabated - 23 days in this case.
OSHA has begun debt collection proceedings in connection with the August and November inspections, which were conducted by the Tampa area office, located at 5807 Breckenridge Parkway, Suite A; phone: (813) 626-1177.
The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration
conducted almost 40,000 inspections in fiscal year 2003, an increase of
more than 2,000 over FY 2002 inspection levels; more than half focused
on high-hazard industries. For more information visit www.osha.gov.