Rely on Occupational Safety & Health ReporterSM for full news coverage and documentation of federal and state workplace safety and health programs, standards, legislation,...
By Bebe Raupe
June 30 — An Ohio auto parts plant is facing proposed Occupational Health and Safety Administration penalties totaling $3.4 million for exposing its workers to metal press hazards.
The punishment, a near record in the auto parts industry, stems from 57 safety violations observed during two inspections of Sunfield Inc. earlier this year, OSHA said in a June 29 announcement.
Each inspection followed incidents where a worker was severely injured, the agency said, noting the Hebron, Ohio, plant was issued 46 “egregious willful” citations, plus two willful, one repeat and eight serious citations for safety violations. Most involve lack of machine safety procedures, which expose workers to amputation, lacerations and other injuries, OSHA said.
Sunfield did not take steps necessary to protect its workers from injury by moving machine parts, OSHA said, and did not prevent machines from unintentionally starting when workers were performing service and maintenance. The company also failed to provide adequate safety mechanisms such as guards, locking devices and other procedures to prevent contact with those moving parts.
These types of violations are among the most frequently cited, the agency said, and often result in death or permanent disability.
In January, inspectors came to the plant after a temporary worker suffered multiple lacerations and a fractured elbow while removing scrap from a blanking press because safety light curtains were not operating correctly. A month later OSHA investigators returned after a short-time employee had to have part of his arm surgically amputated after it was crushed as he removed scrap on a robotic press line. Investigators found that the machine’s danger zone did not have adequate safeguards to prevent employees from coming in contact with operating machine parts.
Along with the citations, Sunfield was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program for its failure to address these safety hazards.
OSHA said the facility has an extensive history of federal safety violations dating back 20 years. Prior to this, Sunfield had amassed 118 citations including 90 serious, eight willful and five repeated violations for machine hazards and had repeatedly assured OSHA that it would address the unsafe conditions, the agency said.
A subsidiary of Japan-based Ikeda Manufacturing Co. LTD, the metal parts stamping operation employs about 175 workers. The Hebron site supplies parts for several major Japanese and domestic automakers. It is Ikeda’s only U.S. plant.
Labor secretary Thomas E. Perez said in the announcement that Sunfield’s leadership failed to properly train workers and created a workplace culture that routinely tolerated willful and serious safety violations.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels said the company has shown a total disregard for its workers.
He compared Sunfield to the kind of operations “rarely seen since the darkest days of the past when callous industrialists ruled and put profits before human suffering and common decency.”
“This has to stop. We hope that today’s action brings an end to these conditions and convinces this employer that their behavior is intolerable,” Michaels said.
Sunfield’s safety manager Jeff Laughlin told Bloomberg BNA June 30 that the company is currently reviewing the citations and plans to appeal them.
Laughlin said Sunfield sees workplace safety “as priority No. 1.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Bebe Raupe in Cincinnati at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at email@example.com
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)