Enforcement and Inspection, Injuries and Illness, Personnel Safety

Ohio Manufacturer Facing $1.2 Million OSHA Fine

On October 27, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it cited an Ohio manufacturer with eight willful violations, one repeat violation, six serious violations, and one other-than-serious violation after the company’s seventh severe worker injury in five years.

Cited violations included exposing workers to machine hazards by failing to properly guard and lock and tag out machinery, not providing workers with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), and not training workers on safety hazards and precautions.

OSHA’s inspection found that the injured worker’s finger was first caught in a rotating spindle on a plastic winding machine, and then the worker’s body was pulled around the machine’s spindle. The worker, who had been on the job just six weeks, suffered multiple severe injuries that required surgery.

OSHA had already placed NOX US LLC’s Fostoria, Ohio, plant in the agency’s severe violators enforcement program (SVEP). According to the agency, the company had recorded at least 13 serious injuries at the plant since 2017 caused by exposure to burn and amputation hazards.

The Ohio vinyl tile manufacturer faces new proposed penalties totaling $1,232,705.

“NOX US LLC’s continued failure to correct previously identified hazards has led to another worker suffering severe and potentially life-altering injuries,” OSHA’s Chicago Regional Administrator Bill Donovan said in an agency statement. “When an employer fails to ensure dangerous machines are guarded or de-energized properly, they show an indifference to worker safety, and the risk of serious injuries multiplies.”

The agency issued willful violations after inspectors concluded that the company frequently exposed workers to amputation and caught-in hazards by failing to prevent them from coming into contact with operating machine parts. NOX US failed to establish, test, and require the use of machine lockout/tagout procedures and train workers on hazards. It also operated unguarded rollers and other equipment, according to the agency, and exposed workers to trip and fall hazards from oil residue on floors and non-uniform stair risers.

The Fostoria plant, which opened in November 2015, has about 200 employees. NOX Corp., based in Seoul, South Korea, produces vinyl flooring for customers in more than 50 countries, according to OSHA.

“NOX US LLC continues to put profit before safety, and the company’s efforts when it comes to worker safety are unacceptable,” Todd Jensen, OSHA’s Toledo, Ohio, area office director, said. “We will use all means necessary to hold this company accountable and to protect workers’ rights to a safe and healthy workplace.”

This fall, the agency expanded the scope of its SVEP with new criteria that include all workplace hazards and violations of all OSHA standards. The program continues to focus on repeat offenders across industries. Enforcement under the program includes mandatory follow-up inspections and pursuing increased awareness of enforcement actions at the corporate level; corporatewide agreements; enhanced settlement provisions; and enforcement action in federal court, where appropriate.

Employers can reduce the time spent in the program if they consent to an enhanced settlement agreement that includes the use of a safety and health management system that meets the seven basic elements in OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs.

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