Region 4 News Release: USDL: 99-73
Thursday, May 6, 1999
Contact: EUGENE STEWART
PHONE : (601) 965-4606
GULF STATES MANUFACTURERS FINED $111,600 FOR SAFETY AND HEALTH VIOLATIONS AT STARKVILLE, MISSISSIPPI, PLANT
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Gulf States Manufacturers and proposed penalties totaling $111,600 for safety and health violations at the company's Starkville, Mississippi plant.
According to Clyde Payne, OSHA's Jackson area director, the plant was targeted for a comprehensive safety and health inspection because of its high 1996 illness and injury rate.
OSHA found nine serious health violations at the plant, for which proposed penalties total $33,300. These included hazards involving flammable liquids, exposure to air contaminants, exposure to blood borne pathogens, and hazardous chemical violations. Other serious health citations involved the use of respirators, evaluation of confined spaces, and failure to determine exposures to methylene chloride.
Twenty additional serious violations were found as a result of OSHA's safety inspection. These drew proposed penalties totaling $78,300. Included were numerous citations for unguarded or deficient machinery and machine parts -- fan blades, radial arm saws, bench grinders, mechanical power presses, flywheels, horizontal shafts, vertical belts, chains and sprockets and portable hand grinders. Gulf States was also cited for not having lockout procedures which assure that machinery is locked and inoperable during maintenance and repair. In addition, helmets or hand shields were not used while performing welding operations and the load rating was missing from below-the-hook lifting devices.
"Our review of this company's injury and illness logs revealed a number of accidents related to the citations we issued," said Payne. "In recent years, there have been four welding-related eye injuries, several injuries to fingers, feet, hands and arms due to unguarded machine parts and material handling deficiencies, several electrical shocks, and a fire in the paint spray booth from build-up of paint residue."
Payne added, "High rates of illness and injury are the indicators OSHA uses to target industries and operations where an inspection might alleviate hazards, prevent accidents and save lives."
A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
Gulf States Manufacturers employs 395 workers at the Starkville plant to produce prefabricated metal buildings.
The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Inspections of the worksite were conducted by OSHA's area office located at 3780 I-55 North, Suite 210, Jackson Miss. 39211-6323; telephone: (601) 965-4606.
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