A Ravenna, Ohio, aluminum parts manufacturer is facing $1,671,738 in penalties for 38 safety and health violations following an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation into a worker’s death. On March 30, a 43-year-old worker was loading a part into a machine when the barrier door closed on his head.
General Aluminum Mfg. Company was cited with four repeat, 18 willful, and 16 serious safety and health violations and was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).
Employers included in the agency’s SVEP are subject to mandatory follow-up inspections and increased agency pressure to abate cited hazards. Willful violations are cited when an employer either knowingly disregarded safety and health law and regulation or acted with indifference for employee safety and health. The company has a history of safety violations, according to the agency.
General Aluminum previously signed formal settlement agreements with the agency to resolve citations for machine guarding and lockout/tagout violations found during inspections conducted between 2015 and 2017. The company hired a third-party consultant to conduct comprehensive machine guarding and lockout/tagout audits between 2017 and 2019, according to OSHA. The audits identified specific machine guarding and lockout/tagout program deficiencies and provided recommendations, but the company failed to fully implement the consultant’s recommendations.
“General Aluminum’s failure to learn from recent incidents and follow industry standards and their own company policies created unnecessary and avoidable hazards in its facility,” Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick said in an agency statement.
“A worker lost his life because the company put the value of production speed before the safety of their employees,” Frederick continued. “OSHA will continue to hold bad actors accountable and emphasize the importance of complying with safety and health requirements that can save lives.”
Following the agency’s most recent inspection after a worker fatality, OSHA alleged that General Aluminum allowed employees to bypass guarding mechanisms designed to protect employees from the barrier door closing on them. A malfunction in the door’s optic control also existed before the deadly incident, according to OSHA.
In addition to problems with machine guarding, OSHA investigators also found a lack of lockout/tagout procedures throughout the facility. The agency claimed that General Aluminum was aware of lockout/tagout and machine guarding problems and failed to address them adequately.
General Aluminum also lacked effective process safety management procedures and failed to protect employees from burn and explosion hazards caused by pooled water on the floor, provide personnel with appropriate protective equipment, train workers adequately in the facility’s hazards and safety procedures, record employee training, and develop emergency action plans.
“After conducting repeated inspections at the plant and receiving formal assurances that safety procedures would be implemented, the company’s failure to do so is unacceptable,” Acting Chicago Regional Administrator William Donovan says.
General Aluminum, founded in 1943, produces engineered automotive castings, according to OSHA. The company employs about 1,200 workers nationwide and 220 employees at the Ravenna/Rootstown location. General Aluminum is owned by Park Ohio Holdings Corp. of Cleveland, which also has locations in Conneaut and Wapakoneta, Ohio, and Freemont and Huntington, Indiana.