Indian-American owned co faces 1 mln in fines

Houston: Piping Technology and Products, owned by an Indian-American, faces more than USD 1 million in fines for allegedly exposing workers to hazardous substances. According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the company was being investigated for six months, wherein they found 13 willful and 17 serious violations of worker safety regulations at the company`s Houston facility. The amount of fines totals USD 1,013,000.

"Piping Technology deliberately exposed its workers who operate band saws and other dangerous machinery to amputation hazards while misleading OSHA investigators about the use of these machines," David Michaels, OSHA`s Assistant Secretary of Labor, said in a written statement.

The company has 15 days to pay the fine, request a conference with OSHA or contest the citations before an independent review board. Piping Technology Vice President Rakesh Agrawal declined to address specific violations cited by OSHA but said that company leaders "disagree strongly with the conclusions that they reached".

He said the company has cooperated with OSHA`s investigation. "We started out in a garage in Southeast Houston and we have grown the company to nearly 600 employees over the last 30 years. All the while, we`ve maintained employee safety as our first priority. And we think the data supports it," Rakesh said.

OSHA opened an investigation into the company`s operations after an employee tipped the federal agency to alleged workplace violations, including a lack of brakes on overhead cranes.

Agency inspectors found several cases where required protective gear and equipment were not being used to shield employees from machines, OSHA said.

According to the announcement, the inspection not only substantiated the complaint items, but it found that that employees were permitted to cut metal I-beams and pipes without the proper machine guarding, which exposed them to possible severe injuries.

Inspectors also found that during mach