HOUSTON (CN) - Federal regulators whacked a pipemaker with more than $1 million in fines for 30 workplace safety violations after an employee's tip led to an investigation of Piping Technology and Products.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration said Piping Technology and Products exposed workers "to the risk of amputations and other serious injuries from dangerous machinery" in its Houston operations.
Piping Technology is no stranger to federal regulators, OSHA said, as the company was cited in 1986, 1994, 2004 and 2005 in warnings "that specifically addressed the need to guard band saws used in the production processes."
A company worker "contacted OSHA earlier this year, alleging a lack of brakes on overhead cranes and unguarded presses at the company's facility," OSHA said in its statement.
OSHA said its investigation found Piping Technology committed 17 "willful violations," committed with intentional disregard of the law, by failing to guard band saws and to lock out all the hazardous energy sources for several pieces of equipment before maintenance was performed on them.
"Each of the 13 citations carries a penalty of $70,000, for a total of $910,000," OSHA said.
While willful violations made up the bulk of OHSA's proposed fines, the agency also cited the company for 17 "serious violations," which occur when there is a strong chance that death could result from a hazard the employer should have known about.
"The 17 serious violations, with penalties totaling $103,000, involve the failure to guard other machines and grinders properly, ensure that openings on electrical equipment were securely closed, provide fall protection training and ensure that employees wore hard hats when exposed to overhead hazards," OSHA said in its statement.
OSHA has put the company in its "Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law," according to its statement.
Piping Technology's vice president Rakesh Agrawal told the Houston Chronicle that company bosses "disagree strongly with the conclusions they [OSHA] reached." Piping Technology has been in business for 35 years. Agrawal told the Chronicle it has 600 employees.
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