OSHA proposes $189,000 in fines vs. pallet manufacturer

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: workplace safety

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued 30 safety and health citations carrying proposed penalties of $189,000 against Kopac International Corporation, which does business as Southeast Pallet and Box in Montgomery, Ala.

The penalties follow inspections in January 2009 that uncovered numerous workplace violations including two willful violations resulting in $99,000 in penalties. The company is alleged to have failed to establish a testing program for noise exposure and to implement controls to reduce the level of exposure. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Three repeat violations with penalties of $20,000 are being proposed against the company for exposing employees to unsanitary conditions, hazards from unguarded conveyor belts and electrical hazards. OSHA issues repeat violations when it finds a substantially similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facilities in federal enforcement states.

Two serious health and 22 serious safety violations were identified with penalties totaling $70,000. The company failed to implement a monitoring program to excessive noise exposure and did not institute a training program on the hazards of noise exposure. Employees were exposed to hazards related to crushing, tripping, struck-by, amputations, falls and fire hazards. One other-than-serious safety violation with no penalty is also being proposed against the company for failing to implement a hazard communication program. A serious citation is issued 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.

"This company has been told in the past that it has worker safety and health issues and has even received assistance from the state's on-site consultation program, so its continued inaction demonstrates gross indifference to employees' well-being," said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA's area director in Mobile, Ala.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Mobile or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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