An employee complaint led inspectors to a wood pallet manufacturing facility in Elida operated by A & D Wood Products, where they found workers at risk of amputation, explosion and other life-threatening hazards, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
These unsafe working conditions prompted OSHA to issue four willful, four repeated and 19 serious health and safety violations. Its Aug. 21 inspection found the 10 employees of A & D Wood Products routinely ended up exposed to amputation, combustible dust and other dangerous hazards. The company faces proposed penalties of $133,540 and is now on the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
OSHA found employees operated machines without eye protection and without effective safeguards from moving parts amid large amounts of combustible wood dust piled throughout the facility. The force from such an explosion can cause deaths, injuries and destruction of buildings.
“A & D Wood Products operates a manufacturing shop that exposes workers to real hazards daily, creating an environment that forces workers to make a choice between their lives and their livelihood,” said Kim Nelson, OSHA’s area director in Toledo. “With 27 violations, it’s clear the safety and health of its workforce is not a priority for them.”
OSHA issued four willful violations related to the hazards, including the combustible dust violations. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Workers also suffered exposure to amputation and other injury hazards because the company did not use devices to prevent equipment from suddenly starting during service and maintenance, a procedure known as lockout/tagout. Inspectors also flagged electrical safety hazards as cabinets did not end up closed properly to prevent contact with energized wires. A & D Wood Products received citations for similar violations at the facility in November 2011. OSHA issues repeated violations if an employer previously received citations for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
A & D also failed to provide hearing protection and audiometric testing for employees, which can identify premature hearing loss.
OSHA inspectors also noted additional machine guarding and electrical safety violations, poor hygiene conditions and unsafe practices related to forklift operations, including leaving forklifts running and unattended. The company also failed to train employees on fire extinguisher use and about hazardous chemicals and products used in the facility, and provided inadequate personal protective equipment. In total, OSHA issued 19 serious violations.
A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.