Seward Ship’s cited with OSHA violations – Alaska

Seward Ship’s Drydock Inc. was cited with $87,000 in proposed fines by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Tuesday.

The charges alleged willful, serious and repeat violations of safety and health standards. Seward Ship’s, a repair facility off Nash Road, currently employs about 40 workers.

According to Dean Ikeda, OSHA deputy regional administrator, an inspection was prompted in April after an employee complained about confined-space working conditions on the Paula Lee barge.

Advanced notice is not given before inspections.

“We show up, explain why we are there and proceed on walking through the worksite, looking at working conditions and talking to employees,” Ikeda said.

The investigation allegedly found a willful violation involving lack of gas testing of confined work spaces.

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with indifference or intentional disregard to worker safety and health.

“We don’t normally find willful violations. It’s a very small percentage,” Ikeda said. “It’s differentiated from ordinary violations by the fact the employers intentionally disregarded the safety of their employees.”

The company was also cited with nine other alleged serious violations including tripping, respiratory protection, electrical and drowning hazards. Repeat violations for continuing use of damaged welding leads and cables, damaged ladders and fall hazards were also cited.

Kenny Willis, the company’s production manager, said that many of the citations were the result of a “disgruntled employee who no longer works for us.”

The OSHA inspection, he said, took place during atypical transitory work situations while crews set up on one area of barge and took down another.

“Some of these citations are completely out of context and unwarranted,” he said.
Willis was more emphatic about the willful violation.

“That is absolutely false,” he said. “There is no way in the world we would knowingly put people in harm’s way. That is a completely uncalled-for statement.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citation to comply, request a conference or contest the citation and penalties. Lack of response can result in daily penalties and monetary fees and fines, according to OSHA.

Seward Ship’s 15-day period began Sept. 30.

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