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May 31, 2016

Chutes manufacturer sees OSHA fines quadruple

A manufacturer of galvanized chutes has seen federal fines more than quadruple because it allegedly did not correct repeated and serious safety violations as promised.

In Jan. 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited and fined U.S. Chutes Inc.'s Bantam plant $94,428 for repeated and serious safety violations. The manufacturer of galvanized chutes for laundry and trash conveyors asked for time to correct the hazards.

After the company failed to submit verification of the hazards' corrections, OSHA's Hartford area office opened a follow-up inspection and U.S. Chutes now faces an additional $422,680 in federal penalties for uncorrected, repeat and new workplace safety hazards.

"U.S. Chutes' ongoing refusal to correct serious conditions that can sicken or injure its employees must stop. Every day it fails to correct hazards, it needlessly places its workers at risk of crushing and amputation injuries, dangerous chemical exposure, eye injuries, electric shock and exposure to a cancer-causing substance," said Warren Simpson, OSHA's area director in Hartford.

A company spokesperson declined to comment on the OSHA fines when reached on the phone.

OSHA said in a statement the uncorrected hazards encompass the company's continuing failure to:

  • Properly guard and inspect mechanical power presses.
  • Update its respiratory protection program.
  • Provide medical evaluations for employees required to wear respirators.
  • Conduct monitoring to determine employees' exposure to hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen.
  • Provide chemical hazard communication training chemical safety data sheets for employees.
  • Provide a certified hazard assessment for each job task.
  • Correctly use and install electrical equipment.

According to OSHA, U.S. Chutes has also failed to pay the $94,428 in fines assessed in Jan. 2015 and has not responded to demand letters. The Debt Collection Accountability Team in OSHA's Office of Financial Management has now referred the debt to the U.S. Department of the Treasury for collection.

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