Company Fined $78,000 for Worker's Chemical Burning, Other Hazards

OSHA is proposing $78,000 in penalties against Briggs & Stratton Corp. in McDonough, Ga., for nine safety and health violations following a worker being injured.

In April, an employee sustained thermal and chemical burns when he stepped off a platform into a tank that contained hot caustic chemicals while repairing a wash line. The company is being cited with one serious safety violation for allowing the platform above the chemical tank to have open sides without a railing or guards.

"If the proper safety precautions had been taken by management, this injury could have been prevented," said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. "It is the employer's responsibility to ensure all aspects of OSHA standards are followed."

Briggs & Stratton is also being cited with one willful and six additional serious safety violations, along with one serious health violation. The willful citation with a $55,000 proposed penalty is due to the company exposing employees to danger by failing to develop lockout/tagout procedures to control hazardous energy.

Serious safety violations include exposing employees to amputation hazards by failing to install machine guards; electrical hazards including improper use of electrical equipment, improper electrical connections and making electrical equipment inaccessible for maintenance; unused openings in cabinets, boxes and fittings that were not effectively closed; and material data sheets on hazardous chemicals that were not readily available to employees. The serious health citation was issued because the employer did not provide training to employees on hazards associated with the specific chemicals being used in the plant.

Fines for the serious citations total $23,000.

According to the company’s website, Briggs & Stratton is the world’s largest producer of gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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