US Forest Service cited for repeated work safety violations

US Forest Service cited for repeated work safety violations

The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the U.S. Forest Service for rampant and repeated workplace safety violations at two different ranger districts in eastern Oregon’s Malheur National Forest.

OSHA inspectors looked into facilities in the Prairie City and Blue Mountain ranger districts in April 2015. Inspectors found several fall, electrical, compressed gas storage and other safety issues.

Violations include:

  • Circuit breakers missing blanks or breakers
  • Electrical junction boxes and outlets without covers
  • Failure to require employees to wear eye protection when working with caustic chemicals
  • Ladder flaws that could lead to fall hazards
  • Woodworking machines without devices to prevent rstarting after power failures
  • Unacceptable guardrails that could cause dangerous falls
  • Unguarded terminals for welding leads
  • Failure to inspect fire extinguishers monthly
  • Seasonal housing with insufficient secondary fire exits
  • Inadequate employee hazard identification training

Federal agencies cannot assess fines against government organizations, but the violations would have resulted in approximately $352,000 in penalties for a private sector employer.

“Like the private sector, these dedicated federal workers deserve a safe and healthy workplace,” said Ken Atha, OSHA regional administrator in Seattle. ‘The Forest Service must ensure its workplace and housing are free from safety hazards.”