U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)

Midville, Georgia, steel distributor cited for exposing workers to repeat and serious workplace safety hazards

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MIDVILLE, Ga. -- Cooksey Iron & Metal Co., doing business as Cooksey Steel Co., was cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 20 safety and health violations following an April 2014 inspection at the company's steel storage and distribution facility on Railroad Street in Midville. OSHA initiated the inspection due to a complaint alleging several hazards related to crane operations, forklifts and electrical hazards. Proposed penalties total $68,838.

'There are many safety hazards at this workplace, some of which had been identified in previous inspections and not corrected. It is troubling to see that this employer is not applying lessons learned at one of its facilities to all of its entities,' said Robert Vazzi, director of OSHA's Savannah Area Office. 'Workers are exposed to easily identifiable and correctable hazards, such as falls and unsafe crane use, which could cause severe injuries and, in some cases, could be fatal.'

The repeat citations were issued for the employer's failure to ensure workers inspected overhead cranes daily before use, prevent workers from riding on forklifts and implement and maintain a hazard communication plan. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Cooksey was previously cited for these violations in 2013 at its facility in Tifton.

OSHA issued the serious citations for worker exposure to electrical hazards from improperly grounded wiring; failure to remove damaged forklifts from service; not requiring seatbelt use for forklift operators; and not providing training to forklift operators. 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.

The employer had been inspected previously by OSHA in 2013 at the Tifton facility, which received citations for four safety violations. Citations were issued for unauthorized passengers on forklifts, a missing hazard communication plan, welding hazards and failure to inspect cranes before use.

Cooksey, headquartered in Tifton, sells and distributes structural steel. The company employs approximately 12 workers at the Midville facility and 67 workers at two additional sites in Tifton and Statesboro. 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 & Health Review Commission.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, fatal work injuries in Georgia accounted for 70 of the 4,405 fatal work* injuries reported nationally in 2013. Additional details are available at http://www.bls.gov.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Savannah Area Office at 912-652-4393.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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