Six Flags Great America fined $117,700 for OSHA violations

Posted Tuesday, September 11, 2007 9:32 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Already on a watch list for companies with high rates of injuries and illnesses, Six Flags Great America in Gurnee today garnered 38 safety violation citations and $117,700 in recommended fines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleged multiple serious and repeat violations at the amusement park, ranging from defective emergency brakes on an industrial truck to a lack of labeling procedures for preventing inadvertent machine start-ups.

Read more from The Daily Herald.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 10:30 AM
The violations include failure to use approved pumps to dispense flammable liquids and improper storage

The nerve...to not use an approved pump!

sprinkler heads in a spray booth covered with unapproved polyethylene bags

They can't tell the difference between the approved and unapproved polyethylene bag...? What idiots...

exits not properly marked

I heard there were no doors there.

damaged ladders

I was willing to overlook the unapproved polyethelene bag...but then I heard about the damaged ladder.

inoperable eyewash station

Of all the inoperable coaster stations in the average Six Flags park...the government is concerned with the eyewash station! What...no water...?

improper machine guarding for wood and metal cutting equipment

We all know how condusive the machine guards are for cutting wood...

circuit breaker boxes used to disconnect machines not properly marked for lockout/tagout procedures "which are intended to prevent inadvertent machine start-ups,"

There is a ghost in the machine...

I don't know about you...but I certainly feel more safe today. I've had about enough of these greedy companies thinking they can endanger the lives of all of us through cheap polyethylene, broken ladders, and poor markings on their circuit boxes. Way to go government. You make me proud...;)

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 10:38 AM
Jeff's avatar Safety is no accident.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 11:12 AM
Government fines in lieu of taxation are no accident either. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait until Big Government gets the power to come into my home and fine me for using unapproved trash bags and inadequate labeling on my bread-maker. If they are doing it the name of safety then it has to be just… ;)
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 11:17 AM
This is news? EVERY Theme Park in the nation gets hit like this. In an Operation as large and complex as these Parks are- there are always violations. OSHA has a field day with Disney SF and Cedar Fair. You can attempt to minimize the fines- they will always find something. They are like the IRS. Their job is not complete until they find somethnig wrong.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 12:05 PM
Everything they were fined for seems to be valid. I'm not sure what all the hostility is about here. Dispensing flammable liquids is only safe to do if using the right equipment, and using it properly. Exits not properly marked is very important. Using a damaged latter could seriously hurt someone. Eyewash stations can be the only way to get toxins out of your eyes, and you expect them to work in your time of need.

Lockout/Tagout is a HUGE issue. I worked with the Bowling Proprietors Association of America where this is a huge issue. People die in the machines when they are turned on while someone is inside. The same could happen at amusement parks. This could really be a life or death issue if not fixed.

How would you feel, Jeffery, if you or someone you loved was hurt because the park was negligent with one of these issues? I'm sure it would be a bit less sarcastic.

Having said all that, this is not unusual with many different businesses. I worked at a Target for a year during high school and the managers always cringed when the inspectors came around. There would always be a long list of things for us to fix after they left, and I'm sure some fines to pay.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 12:29 PM
The violations include failure to use approved pumps to dispense flammable liquids and improper storage

The nerve...to not use an approved pump!

Yes, because if they dispense flammable liquids useing a pump that sparks what harm can come of that. Not to mention "improper storage" of flammable liquids doesn't pose any risk to life or property. Let's have our schools improperly store flammable liquids.

I was willing to overlook the unapproved polyethelene bag...but then I heard about the damaged ladder.

Yes, because having a ladder collapse when you are 10-20 feet above ground is such fun. Maybe they charge the price of admission for the thrill the worker gets when that happens.

improper machine guarding for wood and metal cutting equipment

We all know how condusive the machine guards are for cutting wood...

True. People don't really need 10 fingers or two hands

I don't know about you...but I certainly feel more safe today. I've had about enough of these greedy companies thinking they can endanger the lives of all of us through cheap polyethylene, broken ladders, and poor markings on their circuit boxes. Way to go government. You make me proud...

Let me note two quotes from the article, bolds mine:

"The Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleged multiple serious and repeat violations at the amusement park"

"OSHA's most recent inspection was prompted by its Site Specific Targeting program, which identifies companies with a track record of injuries and illnesses. To be on the list, a company's injury rate must be above the national average.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 12:35 PM
Jeff's avatar OSHA is probably one of the few government entities that is actually useful. I don't know where Smith is getting nonsense about the government coming into his house and checking his garbage. That's real apples to elephants stuff there.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 12:53 PM
He's posting in from Ruby Ridge. :)

-Tambo

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 1:30 PM
Frantic Ferret's avatar circuit breaker boxes used to disconnect machines not properly marked for lockout/tagout procedures "which are intended to prevent inadvertent machine start-ups,"

We had this issue at our building when one of the maintenance people were working on the buildings AC. He's missing three fingers now. I'd prefer if they erred on the side of caution.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 1:32 PM
matt.'s avatar This is Coasterbuzz.

Anything the government does, bad by default.

Anything the media reports, wrong by default.

Any lawsuit ever filed against a park, frivolous by default.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 1:34 PM
What happened at Great America happens everywhere, unfortunately. Too many things get overlooked, because it seems that someone has forgotten to do the job, or they forget about it.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 1:37 PM
Considering that SFGAm is one of the most expensive parks in the chain, I would like to think that a good deal of that money is going to keep the guests and employees safe. After years of working in veterinary hospitals, I have seen first hand what those fines and violations can do to a business. Sometimes, OSHA saves lives in the process. Other times, they just hurt a well intentioned business owner. This is likely the a mix of both.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 1:41 PM
If OSHA didn't fine the parks, people would sue the parks because they were injured from the above-listed offenses. It's a viscous cycle. It's best to just do the right things up front, protect your workers, and hope you don't get sued if an accident happens.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 1:44 PM
I worked in a natural gas plant over the summer, and I promise you that ALL of the things mentioned are EXTREMELY important for the WORKER, maybe not so muchthe customer, OSHA is very serious about keeping up all of thier codes, especially lockout/tagout and when dealing with flammible liquids.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 2:29 PM
Question your government about the war…you are a patriot!

Question your government about fuel efficiency standards…you are a legitimate and concerned citizen.

Question your government about $100,000 fines for unapproved polyethylene bags…?

It is sarcasm and humor folks. The feigned seriousness is beneath those of you taking it so seriously. I’m sure there were/are legitimate safety failures. I’m also sure that our government needlessly and arrogantly fines private entities irrational amounts as a means of tax collection…to say nothing of cushy government job justification.

The fact is…nobody was hurt. Nobody is forced into working in that Malaysian-Sweat-Shop known as Six Flags. There have been no cries of impending disaster from the Six Flags employees…yet our government has stepped in to protect us from what…?

You make your argument than governmental fines in the name of safety are worth it no matter the cost. I chose to believe that it is in Six Flag’s best interest to ensure their employees keep all their fingers…and would argue they really don’t need a governmental fine to remind them. I’d even go so far as to say an employee who would be dumb enough to climb a one-legged ladder probably…?

Since we like to boil down issues with differing viewpoints to catchy little slogans ala… “safety is no accident” …I might add… “a liberal has no sense of humor!” :)

I was just laughing at the serious tone of the article versus the actual violations described. In the spirit of such humorous observation inherent in the “unapproved polyethylene bag” I figured I’d prose a little sarcasm.

I apologize for making light of such important governmental affairs. I also apologize to all hypothetical victims who could have lost fingers or eyesight to such blatant private entity negligence. I’m sure the eye wash station and absent guards on the cutting machinery were indeed unacceptable. I say fine them a million…they can afford it! ;)

Out of curiosity…would I be out of line if I still chuckled…just a little…at the thought of being admonished for the use of an unacceptable trash bag? Or should I suck in the laughter and take every governmental scolding as reasonable and justified? :)

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 2:55 PM
Jeff's avatar Oh, so your non-argument is a result of everyone else's lack of humor. Nice back track.

I've filed a complaint with OSHA. It was the only recourse I had with an unsafe work environment short of quitting, which was not an option at the time. Your assertion that, "There have been no cries of impending disaster from the Six Flags employees," assumes some knowledge of whether or not there were complaints, which you don't know.

Read the article again. The inspections were prompted by a program targeting companies with a history for accidents. There was reason for the thorough inspection, and the park got what it deserved.

If there were no building codes, safety standards, etc., we'd be back in the days of the industrial revolution. If there was no inspection mechanism for these standards, there would be no accountability.

If you're going to state your opinion using words like needless, arrogant, irrational or whatever, check your own arrogance at the door and explain why the government is so wrong with something of more substance than "I said so."

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 4:15 PM
I worked for a company that OSHA land on them.
Unsafe cranes, forklifts and such. While OSHA was inspecting things, one of the crane motors caught fire. A towmotor with problematic brakes slammed into a wall.

i have no diea what the comapny got fined, but many things did get fixed. Quickly.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 4:58 PM
Wow, Jeffery, you really are missing the point, aren't you (I WAS going to say, "Wow Jeffery, you really are an idiot, aren't you?" but I figured it might be just a little too on the nose).

Someone else said it. OSHA is one of those government organizations that actually does good work protecting the working public. You can read a article about a report, and are instantly an expert. Lets think about it for a second. They had plastic bags over sprinkler heads... Perhaps the author of the article had a factoid wrong, but it don't like the idea of any type of plastic bag over a sprinkler head that might save me.

I'm just saying...

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 5:31 PM
Just to play devil's advocate here... some of what JRS said isn't entirely false. Like most agencies that are supposed to protect the public, they're probably understaffed. So they may be selective in who they go after. For every big theme park, there are dozens if not hundreds of businesses with similar violations. But busting them won't make the news like busting Six Flags does.

As far as the violations go, yes a lot of them are serious and could potentially result in injury or death. But, a lot of those violations were probably created by the employees most likely to be affected by them. I'm no fan of Shapiro or Snyder, but I doubt they came up with some kind of executive order to obstruct exit routes or to put bags over sprinkler heads. It's called employees piling crap in hallways and in front of doors.

Poor housekeeping is not removing trash from work areas, things like sawdust, oily rags, metal shards, etc. Stuff like that should be part of a daily maintenance program, but it's dependent on employees and supervisors to implement properly. Management can write the rules, but those people have to follow them.

In other cases, like the eyewash, it's up to the company to make sure it's working properly. The sprinkler head thing was probably a bonehead move by someone who either didn't want to get paint on the heads or have them go off accidentally while they were painting, and never bothered to remove them. Like people who take the batteries out of their smoke detectors because they went off while they were cooking, and never put them back in.

On the other hand, it's not like they weren't warned before and given how many chances to fix the violations. So now they get to pay. I'm sure the cost of the fines exceeds the cost of properly maintaining what they were supposed to in the first place.

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