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LAWSUITS NEWS & LEGAL INFORMATION

Galveston Manufacturing Facility Slammed for Texas Employment Safety

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Galveston, TXA manufacturer of abrasive blasting and roofing materials with a plant in Texas has been blasted by the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for Texas employment violations having to do with the safety and well-being of its workers.

US Minerals Inc. also operates plants in Illinois and Louisiana.

A December 2 release from States News Service notes that OSHA has cited the company with three willful and 35 alleged serious violations with regard to exposing workers to multiple hazards at its facility in Galveston. Proposed penalties for the Texas labor law violations add up to $273,000.

There is a difference between a "willful" violation and a violation deemed "serious," according to OSHA. Willful violations are those committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for Texas employment law requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. A serious violation, on the other hand, involves the substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The OSHA action in Galveston stemmed from a similar inspection at the US Minerals facility in Baldwin, Illinois, this past March that saw the US Department of Labor levy almost a half million dollars in fines for some 35 health and safety violations. OSHA moved to open inspections at the company's other facilities—including the Galveston operation, where it found various Texas labor and employment violations.

OSHA cited US Minerals Inc. for willfully failing to provide fall protection for open-sided platforms, failing to provide conveyors equipped with emergency stops or pull cords, and failing to provide adequate fall protection for the bulk loadout area.

Serious violations of Texas labor and employment law included failure to provide covers on chute floors, failure to remove damaged portable metal ladders from service, failure to ensure compressed gas cylinders were properly secured, failure to provide fire extinguishers where combustible and flammable materials were stored, and failing to develop and document machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures for equipment.

"This company jeopardized the safety of its employees by not providing the proper fall protection and machine guarding," said Mark Briggs, OSHA's area director for the Houston South Area Office. "Employers' disregard for worker safety will not be tolerated."

The press release noted that the company had 15 days to comply and address the Texas employment violations, request additional information from OSHA or contest the citations.

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