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July 30, 2019
OSHA hits manufacturer with $287,000 in fines

OSHA has proposed penalties of $287,212 in its citation of a Long Island, New York, manufacturer. OSHA cited U.S. Nonwovens Corp., a home and personal care fabric product manufacturer with a facility in Hauppauge, New York, for nine serious and four repeat safety and health violations.

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The agency cited Nonwovens for failing to train and evaluate forklift operators on how to safely operate equipment and provide training on lockout/tagout procedures, as well as a lack of machine guarding.

“Companies are required by law to train employees and provide appropriate measures to protect workers from workplace injuries,” OSHA Long Island Area Director Anthony Ciuffo said in a statement.

The agency also cited the company for:

  • Exposing employees to fire and smoke inhalation hazards;
  • Failing to report an amputation and provide illness and injury records to OSHA in a timely manner; and
  • Failing to store materials securely and repair damaged storage racks.

Serious violations

OSHA inspected the Hauppauge plant after an employee suffered a fractured hand. Investigators determined the employee’s injury occurred when his hand became caught in a fabric-softener sheet-cutting machine.

The agency cited Nonwovens for the following serious violations:

  • Electrical equipment was not installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Employees operated a lift truck with a broken propane bracket latch, leaving the truck’s propane tank unsecured.
  • Employees were exposed to struck-by hazards from damaged and unsecured storage racks.
  • Exit routes were not kept free and unobstructed, and exit route signs were not posted in a tunnel.
  • Lockout/tagout procedures were not developed, documented, and implemented, and lockout/tagout training was not provided.
  • Nonwovens failed to ensure a forklift operator was competent in industrial truck operations through training and evaluation.

Repeat violations

Nonwovens was cited for four violations previously cited at the Hauppauge plant and another facility in Brentwood, New York. The repeat violations included:

  • Failing to ensure employees can open an exit route door without keys, tools, or special knowledge—a door to a designated fire exit was jammed and could not be opened;
  • Not securely storing materials—pallets of fabric softener, corrugated boxes, and other materials were stacked unevenly or not secured;
  • Not properly training or evaluating forklift operators for their knowledge of industrial truck operations; and
  • Lacking machine guarding, exposing employees to amputation and caught-in hazards.

Nonwovens also was cited for other-than-serious violations for:

  • Failing to report an employee amputation or hospitalization to the agency;
  • Failing to provide injury and illness records to OSHA officials within 4 business hours;
  • Failing to keep all forklift markings and nameplates in place and in legible condition; and
  • Lacking clearance limit signs—unmarked, horizontal beams of steel storage racks crossing over an aisle were damaged from forklift impact.

Regardless of the pace of new rulemaking out of OSHA or staffing levels in the enforcement directorate or field offices, agency compliance safety and health officers are still inspecting workplaces, especially following an employee injury. OSHA has proposed six-figure penalties following several inspections this year.

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