Eight region businesses fined for safety violations

2013-12-05T16:00:00Z 2013-12-06T12:06:10Z Eight region businesses fined for safety violationsJoseph S. Pete joseph.pete@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com
December 05, 2013 4:00 pm  • 

So far this year, the state has fined eight Northwest Indiana businesses for safety violations, a fourfold increase over 2012.

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration has penalized more region companies this year than in the past two years combined. Four companies based in Northwest Indiana broke safety rules in 2011, and just two were fined last year.

Statewide, the number of safety orders issued after violations rose to 68 though the end of November, compared with to 57 over all of last year, according to the Indiana Department of Labor.

Northwest Indiana companies were collectively fined $123,900 and ordered to take corrective action for a variety of violations, including not identifying hazards on the job site, not monitoring flammable vapors and not notifying the state soon enough after employees died at the workplace.

Businesses have the opportunity to appeal the fines. The state's labor commissioner dismissed the penalty against one company, Coca Cola Refreshments of Portage, for not immediately notifying the state about the death of a seasonal warehouse employee who collapsed while assisting a delivery driver and later died.

Here's a look at what other safety orders the state issued this year:

• Airtek, in Hobart, was fined $2,750 for waiting more than eight hours to report the death of a welding employee who collapsed on the job and died after he was taken to the hospital.

• H & G Underground Utilities, of Merrillville, initially was fined $16,800 for a variety of safety infractions, including a failure to prevent construction equipment from coming into contact with overhead power lines, after an employee died while installing a water line on Taft Street. The fine was negotiated down to $14,700 after the company agreed to have five employees undergo 10 hours of safety training, tweak its safety procedures and let the Indiana Department of Labor provide on-site consultation.

• NLMK Indiana, of Portage, was fined $12,600 for not providing employees with protective equipment, including gloves and goggles while working in a medium voltage room filled with 34,500 volts of electricity. Workers suffered burns and other serious injuries after an electrical explosion known as an arc flash, according to the Department of Labor report.

• Clean Harbors Catalyst Technologies LLC, of Whiting, was penalized $14,000 for not providing protective equipment, including gloves and fire-retardant coveralls, to employees who were exposed to a fire hazard. The state said the company also did not monitor flammable vapors with a high flash point.

• BP, of Whiting, was fined $12,600 for not testing whether it was safe to enter an area filled with flammable vapors, and for not updating maintenance procedures for catalyst removal.

• McAllister General Contractors, of Cedar Lake, was fined $56,000 for eight different violations, including not protecting employees from a trench collapse and not removing workers after a competent person determined a trench could cave in.

• Safway Services, of Hammond, was fined $4,900 for not doing routine inspections and taking steps to make sure scaffolding did not pose a hazard to workers.

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