OSHA cites Alabama boat builder after fatal accident

MOBILE, Ala. – The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Rodriguez Boat Builders and proposed penalties totaling $54,150, after investigating a fatal accident at the company’s Bayou La Batre, Ala. facility, OSHA said in a press release yesterday.

”If the company had followed OSHA regulations, this tragic accident could have been prevented,” said Ken Atha, OSHA’s Mobile area director. “Correcting hazards observed during this investigation will make the facility safer for employees.”

On Oct. 6, 2005, an employee was fatally injured after falling 15 feet from the deck of a maintenance rig under construction to a concrete slab below. A section of the deck’s handrail had reportedly been removed, leaving an unguarded area marked only by plastic barricade tape.

OSHA issued one serious citation directly related to the accident and proposed a $4,900 penalty for exposing workers to fall hazards.

The agency also issued an additional 32 serious citations. Alleged safety violations and proposed penalties include exposing workers to electrical hazards, $16,750; failing to properly identify, label and maintain machinery and equipment, $8,750; operating damaged or defective equipment, $7,500; an inadequate confined space program, $7,500; lack of required fire extinguishers, $3,750; lack of fall protection for employees working at heights over four feet and lack of handrails on open-sided industrial stairs, $5,000.

Serious citations are issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazards.

The company has 15 days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Staff from OSHA’s Mobile area office conducted the inspection.

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