OSHRC Confirms Per-Employee Penalties for LOTO Training Violations

Having only two commissioners appears to be hampering the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission's ability to issue decisions, but OSHRC issued an important one Dec. 4 that upholds OSHA's ability to levy per-employee penalties for violations of the lockout/tagout standard's training requirements. The case, Secretary of Labor v. General Motors Corp., CPCG Oklahoma City Plant, Nos. 91-2834E and 91-2950, involved an inspection after an April 1991 fatality at a GM auto plant in Oklahoma City. OSHA filed one citation against GM five months later that contained 57 alleged violations of the general industry LOTO standard, 29 CFR 1910.147, and levied a $2.78 million penalty against GM. Administrative Law Judge Stanley M. Schwartz later affirmed nearly all of the citations but reduced the penalty to $1.945 million.

The 2-0 decision issued Dec. 4 (Chairman Horace "Topper" Thompson and Commissioner Thomasina Rogers are the only commissioners at present) again lowered the penalty, to $692,000, but the outcome is a victory for OSHA and DOL. Thompson and Rogers affirmed most of the citations, including the items related to the fatality; affirmed most but not all violations that OSHA classified as willful; and, crucially, determined that both the initial training violations (cited under 1910.147(c)(7)(i)) and the retraining violations (cited under 1910.147(c)(7)(iii)(B)) may be cited on a per-employee basis.

The fatality occurred when a motor rail conveyor lift table activated as millwright Donald Smith was leaning inside, preparing to perform maintenance work on the machine. It caught his head, killing him instantly, according to the decision. The LOTO standard had became effective only a year before, on Jan. 2, 1990. The plant had about 5,000 employees in 1991 and hundreds of machines, some powered by multiple energy sources. While GM established a LOTO training program in 1985 as part of a partnership with the UAW, GM managers at the Oklahoma City plant "did not enforce the use of lockout procedures, permitting and even encouraging employees to service machines without locking out," the commissioners wrote in the decision. "Supervisors observed employees servicing without locking out and took no action, neither stopping the servicing work nor retraining the employees in proper lockout procedures. GM also failed to adequately supply servicing and maintenance employees with necessary safety locks."

The standard's training provisions say an employer must train "[e]ach authorized employee." Because this language imposes a specific duty to initially train and to retrain every worker, per-employee citation under those provisions is available, the commissioners wrote.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Safety Management Software - Free Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Software’s comprehensive suite of modules help organizations to record and manage incidents, inspections, hazards, behavior based safety observations, and much more. Improve safety with an easy to use tool for tracking, notifying and reporting on key safety data.

  • Create Flexible Safety Dashboards

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations allows you to easily create and view safety KPIs to help you make informed business decisions. Our best of breed default indicators can also save you valuable time and effort in monitoring safety metrics.

  • Schedule and Record Observations

    IndustrySafe's Observations module allows managers, supervisors, and employees to conduct observations on employees involved in safety critical behavior. IndustrySafe’s pre-built BBS checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Why Is Near Miss Reporting Important?

    A near miss is an accident that's waiting to happen. Learn how to investigate these close calls and prevent more serious incidents from occurring in the future.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to Safety Training

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common FAQs.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - May 2019

    May 2019

    Featuring:

    • RESPIRATORY PROTECTION
      Why Pick a PAPR? 
    • FIRE SAFETY TRAINING
      Fire Safety: Plan, Prevent, Train, Recover
    • PROTECTIVE APPAREL
      The Truth About Heat Stress and FRC
    • AIHCE EXP 2019 PREVIEW
      Underestimated No More
    View This Issue