News and Tribune

Clark County

February 27, 2012

Jeffboat cited with nine violations

OSHA fines barge manufacturer $119,000; no decision on possible appeal

JEFFERSONVILLE — Jeffboat, American Commercial Lines Inc.’s manufacturing segment, has been cited with nine safety violations and issued proposed fines of $119,000 relating to a fatal accident Aug. 19.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Jeffboat for nine safety violations, including one willful violation. The citations issued were related to an incident when a worker became trapped between a malfunctioning transfer car and a barge and was crushed. The fatality was the third time a Jeffboat employee was killed on the job in 16 months.

Two incidents occurred a week apart in May 2010 in which a Jeffboat employee was killed. A serious violation was issued related to the May 10 incident when an employee carrying a welder and whip line fell between the top and middle guardrails of a barge to the ground 20 feet below. The violation issued was for failing to keep the guardrails taut and a repeat violation was cited for housekeeping issues, as multiple trip hazards from gas lines and structural elements were found to be present, according to the OSHA report.

A week later, May 17, a worker was killed when he was climbing up a ladder from the inside of a barge, carrying working gear and fell. A serious violation was issued for employees carrying items up and down ladders, which prevented them from maintaining three points of contact, according to OSHA.

According to the citation and notification, Jeffboat has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply. Therefore, Jeffboat will have until March 8 to comply or appeal the citations and violations.

ACL spokeswoman Kim Durbin said there has been no decision at this point to appeal the violations.

While an informal conference is not required, a conference has been requested by OSHA, at which time Jeffboat may present evidence to adjust the penalties or fines, according to the citation and notification of penalties.

“Jeffboat has a responsibility to ensure that its employees are properly protected from known workplace hazards,” said Ken Gilbert, OSHA’s area director in Indianapolis, in the report. “Failing to ensure workers’ safety and health through appropriate equipment maintenance, training and adherence to OSHA regulations demonstrates a lack of regard for employees’ lives and well-being. OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so.”

Durbin said ACL has had an opportunity to review the citations with OSHA and is working with the agency to ensure continued improvement of the company’s safety.

“Jeffboat remains committed to protect the health and safety of its employees,” she added.

Since the May 2010 incidents, OSHA has conducted five inspections, resulting in citations for 46 violations, including the nine from this most recent investigation, according to the OSHA report.

The first set of violations were listed as serious, for when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known, according to OSHA. Those cited in the report included failing to develop and implement lockout procedures involving hazardous energy control equipment, not training employees to work safely around transfer cars, not inspecting transfer cars and ensuring that electrical circuits had been de-energized prior to employees performing work on equipment and failing to provide strain relief on the pendant controllers.

The total penalties for the serious violations totaled $49,000.

A second set of violations are willful violations, defined by OSHA as one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. Those cited in the report included failing to properly assemble and install pendant controllers used to operate transfer cars in accordance with instructions provided by the manufacturer, which may have allowed water and moisture to enter the pendant controllers, possibly leading to corrosion and the subsequent malfunction. A second violation was for continuing usage of equipment for which the electrical parts are corroded.

The total cost of the penalties from the willful violations equaled $70,000. The nine violations combined totaled $119,000.

Multiple requests for comment from the Teamsters Local 89, which is the local union representing Jeffboat workers, were not returned.

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