OSHA cites Houston manufacturer after worker struck by machine part

Piping Technology and Products in Houston has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for what the agency said is another instance of the manufacturing company’s failing to protect workers.

The federal agency issued its citations against Piping Technology and Products after a worker was struck by a broken die piece on a mechanical press.

The agency has proposed penalties totaling $199,800 for four repeat and three serious violations, according to OSHA.

“Piping Technology and Products has again failed to protect its workers from hazards, and again a worker has been injured on the job,” Mark Briggs, OSHA’s Houston south area director, said in a news release.

RK Agrawal, spokesman for the company, which manufactures pipe supports, clamps and expansion joints for chemical and oil refineries, issued the following comment when asked for a response:

First and foremost, we (Piping Technology) take the safety and health of each and every member of our team very seriously and we think the facts and our record reflect that.
We just received these citations and are still studying them, but I can tell you we disagree with the conclusions reached by OSHA here.  We have worked closely with OSHA in the recent past, including monthly meetings with the Houston area director Mark Briggs.  As we have in other cases, we look forward to resolving our differences here.
We are very proud of our history of creating over 700 engineering and manufacturing jobs in Houston.  In our 30+ year history, Piping Technology has succeeded by taking a long-term view and safety is and has always been one of our core values.  We’ve never held back when it’s come to investing time or money to maintain the safety of our employees.

Piping Technology and Products has about 700 employees.

The repeat violations include failing to guard punch presses and band saws as well as not providing training on energized equipment. Piping Technology and Products was cited for similar violations in 2011, OSHA said.

The serious violations include failing to secure a fuel gas cylinder and failing to provide strain relief for electrical wiring. A serious violation is defined as one that could cause death or serious injury.

The agency inspected Piping Technology and Products twice in 2011 and cited the company for 42 safety and health violations, including failing to guard band saws, shears and press brakes, according to OSHA.

The agency has conducted three other inspections in 2013. It cited the company for failing to provide machine guarding on two separate occasions and provide documentation that the problem was fixed.

The company is contesting all of the 2013 citations but settled the cases stemming from 2011.

The manufacturing company has 15 business days to either comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s Houston south area director or contest the most recent findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.