OSHA cites National Pipe and Plastics following fatal accident

By Candace Chapman

National Pipe and Plastics withdraws its application for a second Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement.

September 30, 2013 Updated Oct 1, 2013 at 1:09 AM EDT

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Following an accident that killed a truck driver, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration found health and safety violations at National Pipe and Plastics in Vestal.

National Pipe and Plastics President Dave Culbertson called the citations groundless and without merit.

On March 22, a driver working for another company was picking up a load of pipes. He was killed when he was struck by a forklift driven by a National Pipe employee.

OSHA cited National Pipe with 16 serious violations, two of which are directly related to the accident. Inspectors found the forklift's backup alarm was not working and the forklift driver did not have a clear view of the travel path.

“Establishing safety protocols to address foot traffic in these areas would have helped prevent this tragic incident. National Pipe should have maintained equipment properly, such as the forklift’s backup alarm, and ensured forklift operators maintained focus on their path of direction,” said Chris Adams, OSHA’s area director for Syracuse.

OSHA said a serious violation involves substantial probability that physical harm or death could result from a hazard the employer knew or should have known existed.

Inspectors found other violations including failure to maintain surfaces free of combustible dust, maintain fixed stairs at the proper angle, provide handrails on exposed sides of stairways and provide portable metal ladders with slip-resistant rungs.

"We are one of the safest manufacturing plants in New York state and we pride ourselves on that. Our Vestal plant has gone more than a year without an employee lost time accident," said Culbertson.

He said that means there have been no accidents or employee injuries that were reportable under Department of Labor guidelines that resulted in losing any time at work.

OSHA's proposed penalties add up to $67,000. National Pipe and Plastics has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, meet with the OSHA area director, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

"National Pipe and Plastics has already filed its formal notice of contest with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. National Pipe and Plastics looks forward to defending these citations," said Culbertson.