The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently cited Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. LLC for 22 alleged serious workplace safety violationsin Somerville´s Inner Belt neighborhood. OSHA additionally proposed $130,800 in fines to the company for these violations.
Inspections carried out between April and October uncovered that employees in the facility’s diesel, carpentry, truck, pipe and coach workshops were exposed to potential electric shocks, fires, falls, chemical burns, lacerations, amputations and bloodborne pathogens, in addition to possible injuries from crushing, slipping and tripping hazards.
OSHA discovered that unqualified employees were working on energized electrical equipment without proper personal protective equipment. Additionally, the facility had numerous exposed electrical circuits, inadequately misused power cords, the lack of locking out electrical power sources during maintenance, incorrect and inadequately secured oxygen and acetylene cylinders in storage, and a blocked emergency exit by a storage unit of flammable materials. Employees were also allowed to work with corrosive chemicals without face masks, hand protection or protective clothing. The facility had unguarded saw blades and unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals. The company also failed to offer hepatitis B vaccinations to employees who were potentially exposed to bloodborne pathogens while cleaning passenger cars.
OSHA issues a serious violation when there is substantial likelihood that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which “the employer knew or should have known.”
Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA’s area director for Middlesex and Essex counties said, “The sizable fines proposed here reflect the number and breadth of hazardous conditions found at this facility…While some violations were corrected during the course of the inspection, the railroad must correct all hazards and take effective steps to prevent their recurrence.”
In a statement following the proposed fines and citations, the company stated: “MBCR treats safety with the utmost seriousness…MBCR has abated or is in the process of addressing all of the issues identified by OSHA. The company will continue to work closely with OSHA and the Federal Railroad Association to ensure the highest possible level of safety for employees and customers.” The statement also said that MBCR has the second lowest rate of injuries in the industry and also that the company had reduced workplace injuries by 58 percent over the past year.
The railroad company has 15 business days to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or object to the inspection´s findings to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
If you or your loved one has been injured in the workplace, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer.
US Labor Department’s OSHA cites Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad for workplace safety hazards at Somerville maintenance facility, OSHA Regional News, November 1, 2011
OSHA: Train yard in Somerville cited for 22 serious safety violations, www.wickedlocal.com, November 2, 2011
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