OSHA calls for $1 million in fines against piping supplier

Houston-based Piping Technology and Products faces more than $1 million in proposed fines after a six-month federal investigation discovered numerous safety violations at its south Houston manufacturing facility, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The piping manufacturer received 30 citations for failing to protect employees in the path of dangerous machinery at its manufacturing facility at 3701 Holmes Road, which is also home to its main offices. OSHA has proposed  $1,013,000 in fine against the company, the federal agency said Wednesday.

This is Piping Technology’s third run-in with OSHA in less than a decade. The agency cited the firm with penalties totaling $82,500 in 2004 and an additional $33,000 a year later. The most recent penalty covers an offense that Piping Technology had been cited for before, according to OSHA.

“Piping Technology deliberately exposed its workers who operate band saws and other dangerous machinery to amputation hazards while misleading OSHA investigators about the use of these machines,” said David Michaels, OSHA’s assistant secretary of labor, in a written statement.

OSHA has placed Piping Technology in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which launched last year and calls for repeated inspections of offending companies to insure compliance with safety laws.

Piping Technology Vice President R.K. Agrawal declined to address specific violations cited by OSHA, but said that company leaders “disagree strongly with the conclusions that they reached.” He said the company has cooperated with OSHA’s investigation.

The company has 15 days to pay the fine, request a conference with OSHA,  or contest the citations before an independent review board.

OSHA opened an investigation into the company’s operations after an employee tipped the federal agency to alleged workplace violations, including a lack of brakes on overhead cranes. Agency inspectors found several cases where required protective gear and equipment were not being used to shield employees from machines, OSHA said.

Piping Technology was cited for 13 willful violations and 17 serious violations. Willful violations are cases in which the company defied rules intentionally or with voluntary disregard, according to OSHA. Serious violations are those that risk death or serious physical harm in cases where the employer knew or should have known of the risk.

Piping Technology is a 35-year-old supplier of piping products to petrochemical, oil production and other industries. Agrawal said that the company has 600 employees.

simone.sebastian@chron.com

@SimonesNews

1 Comment

  1. ntangle

    Was on a jury panel for a civil trial against them once, but fortunately got culled in the voir dire.

    #1