Austal USA was cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 12 safety and health violations that involved fall and other hazards following a May 2014 complaint regarding the Mobile shipbuilder's facility. Proposed penalties total $41,500.
"The government expects that contractors, such as Austal, should not only deliver a good product, but also conduct operations in a safe manner," said Joseph Roesler, OSHA's area director in Mobile. "The lack of attention to safety and health issues unnecessarily exposed employees to hazards at the Mobile facility, and these hazards need to be addressed and controlled throughout the shipbuilding process."
Nine serious citations were issued for lack of standard railings on all staircases, which exposed workers to fall hazards; improperly secured gas cylinders; and failure to reduce the pressure in a compressed air device to less than 30-pounds-per-square inch when cleaning. OSHA also cited the company for allowing worker overexposure to copper fumes during welding operations. Other citations included failure to ensure workers followed safety procedures to prevent accidental machine startup and to protect workers from unguarded machinery.
Three other citations were issued for using temporary flexible cable instead of permanent wiring, improperly labeling hazardous chemicals and failure to ensure that temporary wiring was not damaged. 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.
OSHA has cited this facility three times in the past five years. The company was issued citations for improper use of slings and maritime gear, poor walking and working surfaces, a lack of accident prevention signage and electrical hazards.
Austal USA is a global contractor, designer and manufacturer of defense and commercial ships. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.