OSHA Again Cites United Airlines at O'Hare for Health, Safety Violations

OSHA again has cited United Airlines Inc. in Chicago for alleged multiple serious, willful, and repeat violations of federal workplace safety and health standards, and has proposed $192,500 in fines.

As a result of its latest inspection, initiated in November 2007, OSHA has issued citations for 39 serious violations with proposed penalties totaling $112,000. OSHA also has cited United Airlines for one willful violation with a proposed $70,000 fine, one repeat violation with a $7,500 fine and three other-than-serious violations totaling $3,000 in penalties.

OSHA selected United Airlines for this inspection after reviewing occupational injury and illness data, which included ramp services; customer service; air freight, aircraft, and ground equipment maintenance; building/facility maintenance; business operations; strategic procurement; medical facilities; and flight attendant operations.

Some of the serious violations--defined as one where death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known--address health hazards associated with the design of flammable liquid storage cabinets and rooms, an open-sided tank containing corrosive liquid, respiratory protection program deficiencies, and failure to conduct an asbestos survey to determine the presence and quantity of materials containing asbestos.

The willful violation--defined as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health--addresses the health hazards associated with United Airlines failing to provide awareness training to employees that work in areas where asbestos is known to be present.

The repeat violation--defined as a violation that was previously cited where, upon re-inspection, a substantially similar violation is found--addresses hazards associated with containers of hazardous chemicals not appropriately labeled.

"These violations should not exist at any worksite," said Diane Turek, director of OSHA's Chicago North Area Office in Des Plaines, Ill. "They are problems that can be avoided if an employer is dedicated to protecting employees. Employers must remain dedicated to keeping the workplace safe and healthful or face close scrutiny by this agency."

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