United Airlines Faces $215,500 in Penalties for Hazards at O'Hare

OSHA has proposed $215,500 in fines against United Airlines Inc. at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport for alleged multiple serious and repeat violations of federal workplace safety standards. The agency selected the airline for inspection after reviewing occupational injury and illness data, which included ramp services, customer service areas, air freight, aircraft and ground equipment maintenance, building/facility maintenance, business operations, strategic procurement, medical facilities, and flight attendant operations. As a result of its inspection, OSHA issued 43 serious violations and four repeat violations.

The serious violations address hazards associated with fall protection, hazardous energy control procedures and training, storage of oxygen and fuel-gas cylinders, platform load ratings, and electrical hazards. The four repeat violations, based on citations issued and affirmed in 2006 and 2007, cover machine guarding and electrical issues. Proposed penalties for the repeat violations alone total $57,500.

"Falls, electrical hazards and machine guarding issues, as well as energy lockout/tagout procedures, which are intended to prevent accidental start-up of machinery during maintenance, are problems that 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."

Since 2004, OSHA has inspected the airline 22 times at various locations nationwide. Of the eight times the agency has inspected United operations at O'Hare since 2000, three inspections have resulted in citations.

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