Even federal agencies must adhere to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety standards or risk being issued citations for their violations. This is the case for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where its Soo Locks facility in Michigan was recently the subject of an OSHA inspection, where they subsequently discovered 21 serious and two repeated violations.
According to OSHA's press release, federal agencies may receive violations but are not issued proposed penalties like the private sector. If the agency could be fined, the number should total $124,020. Some of the hazards that the Army Corps of Engineers failed to protect its workers from include not fully securing suspended scaffolds, not having stairway handrails, not providing respiratory protection, not training its staff on how to use fire extinguishers and not storing gas cylinders correctly.
For the two repeated violations, other Army Corps of Engineer locations in Alaska and New York were cited previously for the same issues, which are a failure to provide eyewash stations and not properly closing unused openings in electrical panels.
In addition to these citations, OSHA'S investigation uncovered that there were many areas, such as power house turbines, pits, the well pump and oil tank, that were not correctly designated as permit-required confined spaces.
"It can be lethal to expose crane operators to heavy loads and to allow workers to enter tunnels and other confined spaces without proper training," said Larry Johnson, director of OSHA's Lansing Area Office. "Like private employers, federal agencies must correct safety and health deficiencies immediately. Failing to do so is inexcusable."
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