A Superior, Wis., shipyard has reached a settlement with federal safety regulators, reducing a proposed fine but instituting new safety measures after 14 workers were overexposed to lead last winter while retrofitting a Great Lakes freighter.
Fraser Shipyards announced the agreement cutting the fine from $1.4 million to $700,000 on Thursday. The fine is associated with 29 safety violations, including 14 “willful egregious” violations — which are rare — and 10 serious citations.
Negotiated reductions of OSHA fines are not unusual; however, the violations remain the same. Fraser admits no fault or liability through the settlement, which included participation from the union for Fraser workers, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.
Under the settlement, Fraser must establish a new health and safety management program and institute additional worker protections. The company must work with OSHA for three years of monitoring the new safety program. It also must submit to regular OSHA inspections and two independent health and safety audits over two years.
“We are committed to taking these steps and look forward to working with OSHA and all of our team members at Fraser,” James Farkas, Fraser’s president, said in a press statement.
The violations stem from a $10 million contract to convert the Herbert C. Jackson — a 1959 vintage vessel — from steam power to diesel. Retrofitting the Jackson, which is owned by Ohio-based Interlake Steamship Co., was one of the biggest projects at Fraser Shipyards in years.
OSHA opened an inspection last February at Fraser after receiving multiple complaints of unsafe working conditions. OSHA’s testing concluded that 14 workers had been overexposed to lead. Overexposure to lead can cause brain damage, kidney disease and other health problems.