OSHA cites Houston-based O’Brien Wire Products of Texas for safety and health violations; Company failed to follow terms of settlement

OSHA has cited Houston-based O’Brien Wire Products of Texas Inc. for five serious, two repeat, three other-than-serious and two failure-to-abate violations for exposing employees to workplace safety and health hazards. Proposed penalties total $159,390.

“This company has continued to jeopardize the safety and health of its workers after agreeing to corrective action,” said Mark Briggs, director of OSHA’s Houston South Area Office. “Disregard for worker safety will not be tolerated.”

OSHA’s Houston South Area Office initiated a safety and health inspection on Nov. 18, 2010, at the company’s facility on Gulfton Street for failing to take agreed-upon corrective actions to abate hazards cited during a June 2007 investigation. The agreement required the company to report, on a quarterly basis, its progress in abating the hazards on wire tie machines that exposed workers to the hazards of unguarded chains and sprockets. OSHA granted the company an 18-month extension to correct the deficiencies, but after reporting that several machines were repaired, the company ceased to submit quarterly progress reports. Consequently, OSHA conducted this follow-up inspection, discovering failure-to-abate violations for not correcting the machine guarding hazards previously cited in 2007.

The serious violations include failing to remove damaged fiberglass ladders, replace a defective safety latch on a crane hook and ensure the measurement of noise levels. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Repeat violations include failing to provide the required machine guarding for belts, pulleys, chains and sprockets. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

Other-than-serious violations include failing to provide a door on a restroom and hand-washing facilities. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

The company 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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