Homerville, GA (WorkersCompensation.com) - Dupont Yard Inc., a forest products manufacturer, has been cited for 22 safety and health violations by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA started its inspection following a complaint regarding hazardous working conditions at the company's manufacturing facility in Homerville. Proposed penalties total $279,400.
"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, 39 violations have been cited in four previous inspections.
The current inspection found three willful safety violations, carrying $171,600 in penalties. OSHA found that workers were exposed 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 has been placed 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, are associated with 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 has been cited 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.
Workers also were exposed to 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 found on ledges and electrical equipment. The current citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/dupontyardinc_931983_02-18-2014.pdf*.
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.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, preliminary data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries shows fatal work injuries in Georgia accounted for 76 of the 4,383 fatal work injuries reported in 2012. Additional details are available at http://bls.gov/iif/home.htm.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.