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There was only one surprise when OSHA’s top 10 violations for 2018 were unveiled: PPE.
- Fall Protection – General Requirements Standard: 1926.501
- Hazard Communication Standard: 1910.1200
- Scaffolding Standard: 1926.451
- Respiratory Protection Standard: 1910.134
- Lockout/Tagout Standard: 1910.147
- Ladders Standard: 1926.1053
- Powered Industrial Trucks Standard: 1910.178
- Fall Protection – Training Requirements Standard: 1926.503
- Machine Guarding Standard: 1910.212
- Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection Standard: 1926.102
The top 5 have remained same since 2014 and the remaining 5 just change order a bit year-to-year. The only change to the frequent flyer list was PPE – Eye and Face Protection, which edged out Electrical for the number 10 spot – its first appearance on the top 10 list.
Other items to note are the number of violations continue to trend downward, and proposed penalties for egregious offenders also declined after a 2-year increase following the OSHA penalty revision to comply with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015. The only exceptions to the downward trend were Fall Protection – General and Training Requirements, Ladders, and of course the newcomer to the list, PPE – Eye and Face Protection.
Now before we go blaming or crediting the Trump administration for these declines, let’s look at the facts. Violations have slowly and steadily declined since 2013, and the largest penalties are usually due to unplanned events such as a fatality or complaint, not a routine or scheduled visit. OSHA has no control over when these incidents occur, nor does it have goals for penalty amounts to reach or to decrease. Penalties are based on the specific circumstances of each incident. Furthermore, it only makes sense that penalties would start to level off or decrease after the drastic increase from the previous 2 years following the 78% inflation adjustment.
This year the largest proposed penalty was $1.8 million following an explosion that resulted in 5 fatalities and 12 injuries, including the double leg amputation of a 21-year-old. Citations included 14 willful (including 8 egregious instance-by-instance) and 5 serious violations for failure to control combustible dust, failure to maintain equipment and emergency alarm system, inadequate PPE, and lack of training. This penalty is lower in comparison to last year’s highest proposed penalty of $2.6 million following a worker fatality. A worker was crushed to death in a robotic conveyor which resulted in 23 willful, serious, and other than serious violations (including 19 egregious instance-by-instance) for failure to control hazardous energy and improper machine guarding. While the death and injury toll was higher in this year’s incident, the number of violations was higher last year, constituting the higher penalty. Remember … the penalty reflects the number and type of violation, not the number of fatalities.
If you have questions or need any assistance staying off OSHA’s top 10 list, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jami Arnold is an Environmental Health and Safety Consultant at SMG.
New Facility Permitting
A large alcoholic beverage company was planning to construct a distillery along a lake in Kentucky and use the fresh limestone water for bourbon production. The proposed site was a former farm with historic activities dating back to the 1880s. A water intake structure was required in the lake and along the adjacent shoreline which was owned by others. Several ephemeral and intermittent streams would be impacted by the construction. The client needed a US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 Permit, a Kentucky Division of Water 401 Water Quality Certification, a water withdrawal permit, a permit for construction in and along a stream, and a construction stormwater permit. Additionally, an air permit was required prior to construction for the aging warehouses, distillery equipment, and other emission units. Evaluation for cultural and historic resources and endangered species evaluations were required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA).
As the construction proceeded and operations began, a number of operating permits and environmental and hazardous materials compliance plans were required. The project required coordination with the nearby city for drinking water use and industrial wastewater pretreatment and discharge. Recordkeeping and reporting were needed prior to facility personnel being mobilized to the site. Set up and management of environmental systems during the transition to full operations was needed.
During the planning and initial construction phases, SMG managed the environmental permitting and environmental compliance for the site. The process involved application preparation and coordination with multiple regulatory agencies including the USACE, Kentucky Division of Water, Kentucky Division of Air Quality, US Fish and Wildlife Services, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Kentucky Heritage Council, and local agencies. Permits included stream mitigation, cultural and historic resources investigation, coordination with state and federal Fish and Wildlife agencies, and State 401 water quality certification, and the Section 404 permit, which required wetland and stream delineation. SMG coordinated with the client’s project team to minimize stream impacts and to adhere to the schedule by expediting the permit processing. State stream construction, water withdrawal, and air permits were also obtained. SMG provided onsite observation to assess contractor compliance with the stormwater permit and managed environmental permit reporting.
During the later construction phase, SMG managed the environmental permitting and compliance for the new distillery. The initial environmental and hazardous material compliance plans (GPP, HMPC, and SWPPP) were prepared and applications for operating permits, such as industrial wastewater pretreatment and discharge and industrial stormwater discharge, were readied and submitted. SMG provided training to the initial employees regarding hazardous material management and groundwater/stormwater protection. SMG worked with the new Risk Manager for the site to transition responsibility for environmental and hazardous material compliance.
SMG’s management of the environmental planning and permitting for the facility, successfully supported the construction schedule and managed environmental compliance for the initial site operations. SMG continued to work with the owner to obtain remaining operational permits and to transition environmental compliance responsibilities to the new facility staff to support startup and initial operations. The facility was completed on schedule and provides a significant economic benefit to the surrounding community.