Miami Lakes

Maker of protective combat gear faces $92,000 in fines for deficient worker protection

A Miami Lakes business named The Protective Group faces $92,820 in fines after a federal agency said the business didn’t protect its workers from amputation and breathing hazards, the Department of Labor has announced.

The Protective Group is one of the brands under the umbrella of Point Blank Enterprises, a Pompano Beach company that makes protective equipment and attire for military and law enforcement. According to the company’s state of Florida registry, it’s run by CEO Daniel Gaston, CFO Ivan Habibe and COO Paulo Motoki

Point Blank Enterprises didn’t answer two e-mails from the Miami Herald asking if it planned to contest the citations, arrange an informal meeting with the area OSHA supervisor or pay the fines. Point Blank’s only other OSHA citations in the last 10 years were six violations found in 2013. Point Blank settled $14,450 in proposed fines down to $8,670.

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After that 2013 inspection, Point Blank got dunned for, among other things, “air contaminants” and “respiratory protection.” The May inspection found problems with the way The Protective Group’s management handled hazards from silica, the small dust created from working with hard surfaces like rock, brick, concrete and mortar.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration website says: “Workers who inhale these very small crystalline silica particles are at increased risk of developing serious silica-related diseases,” such as lung cancer, kidney problems, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and silicosis, an incurable lung disease.

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The Citation and Notification of Penalty from the May 29 inspection at 14100 NW 58th Ct. said a bandsaw-operating employee making bulletproof vests had almost three times the amount of allowable silica exposure and another worker doing the same job had more than double that limit.

The Protective Group also got cited for not testing workers exposed to silica or providing free medical evaluation for workers exposed to silica over the limit.

As for the seven band saws, OSHA found no lock out, tag out (LOTO) procedures for changing the cutting bands. Such procedures keep the band saws from suddenly firing up unexpectedly. A guard was raised 3 1/4 inches, allowing enough room for body parts to get into the machine.

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Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.