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Concrete Maker Cited for Repeat Dangers

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

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Federal authorities are accusing a Pennsylvania concrete manufacturer of multiple repeat and serious violations of safety standards at its plant—the company’s fourth case in five years.

Universal Concrete Products Corp., of Pottstown, PA, faces a total of $58,753 in proposed fines after citations for 10 repeat and four serious violations, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced April 21.

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Nationals ballpark
Dan M. / Wikimedia Commons

Universal Concrete Products' project portfolio includes the Nationals' ballpark in Washington D.C.

Founded in 1967, Universal Concrete Products provides architectural and structural precast products for the high-end commercial construction market, according to its website.

The company’s portfolio includes housing at Drexel University in Philadelphia; the Washington Nationals' ballpark in Washington D.C.; and the Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

Repeat Violations

OSHA said its latest inspection, conducted in December 2013, found hazards at the plant similar to those cited during an inspection in August 2012. 

The hazards alleged include failure to provide workers with required safety and health training on the use of respirators and powered industrial trucks, as well as exposing workers to electrical hazards, according to the citation documents.

Universal Concrete Products also failed to conduct required inspections on mobile cranes at the plant, according to the agency.

The fines for the repeat violations ranged from $154 to $10,780 each, and totaled $49,588.

A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

19 Earlier Violations

In the previous case, which stemmed from a complaint, OSHA had issued 17 serious and two other-than-serious violations. Those violations carried fines of $61,286.

Phillies stadium
Phillyfan0419 / Wikimedia Commons

The company also provided concrete to complete the Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

The company reached an informal settlement with the agency, and the fines were reduced to $33,120.

However, OSHA’s database does not indicate that the case has been closed.

Two other cases involving the concrete maker are also listed in OSHA's database. In August 2010, the company was fined $11,200, later reduced to $7,840 through a formal settlement, for a repeat safety hazard related to woodworking machinery requirements.

The August 2010 inspection was a follow-up to a August 2009 case. In 2009, the company was fined $4,000 for two serious and one other-than-serious violation after an employee's fingers were amputated by a table saw. The company informally settled and paid $2,800.

Serious Violations

In the current case, the company was also cited for four serious citations, carrying $9,165 in fines.

The serious violations alleged violations of regulations governing cranes; permit-required confined spaces; and respiratory protection.

A serious violation occurs 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.

Jeopardizing Worker Safety

"Universal Concrete continues to jeopardize the safety and health of its workers by failing to correct dangerous conditions," said Jean Kulp, OSHA's area director in Allentown.

"OSHA's safety and health standards exist to prevent injuries and fatalities. It is the employer's responsibility to protect its workers by following these standards."

Universal Concrete Products has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Citations; Concrete; Confined space; Enforcement; Health and safety; OSHA; Regulations; Respirators; Stadiums/Sports Facilities; Worker training

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