Forest products manufacturer, Dupont Yard Inc., is facing $279,400 in fines for 22 safety and health violations at its manufacturing plant in Homerville, GA, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
“Since 2007, this employer has known about the dangers of a lack of machine guarding and exposure to electric shock, but repeatedly puts workers at risk of serious injury or death,” said Robert Vazzi, OSHA’s area director in Savannah. “Earning a paycheck should not involve being in an unsafe work environment.”
Dupont Yard manufactures posts for agricultural projects and highway construction and produces timber and wood chips. In the past six years, the company faced 39 violations in four previous inspections.
The current inspection found three willful safety violations, carrying $171,600 in penalties. OSHA found workers suffered exposure to hazards from the company’s failure to implement basic safety procedures that would prevent equipment from starting up or moving during maintenance, which can cause amputation, other serious injuries or death. Additionally, there were caught-in and crushing hazards from unguarded rotating chains and sprocket wheels, as well as electrical hazards.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
Due to the willful violations found at the site, the company is now in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer’s facilities or job sites.
Two repeat violations, carrying penalties of $30,030, relate to inspections in March 2008 and January 2011. The company lacked proper housekeeping and failed to close electrical panels, risking electric shock hazards. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously faced citations for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
The company also earned citations for 17 serious safety and health violations, with $77,770 in penalties. Many relate to failing to implement a lockout/tagout program properly, including not providing workers with training and locks for equipment before maintenance operations. Accumulated wood dust greater than 1/8 inch was also on ledges and electrical equipment.
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.