Region 4 News Release: USDL: 99-201
Wednesday, October 20, 1999
Contact: EUGENE STEWART
PHONE: (601) 965-4606
FOAMEX INTERNATIONAL FINED NEARLY $32,000 FOR SAFETY AND HEALTH VIOLATIONS AT VERONA, MISS., PLANT
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Foamex International, Inc., for safety and health violations at the company's Verona, Mississippi, plant. The citations carry penalties totaling $31,950.
According to Clyde Payne, OSHA's Jackson area director, an inspection was triggered by a complaint about safety at the plant.
"If the company had instituted an effective safety and health program, it would have had a mechanism in place to recognize, evaluate and control hazards, " said Payne. "It makes good economic sense to minimize employee down time."
The safety component of OSHA's inspection of the Verona facility revealed one repeat and 7 serious violations. The serious safety hazards, resulting in penalties totaling $10,500, included lack of point of operation guards on slitters and saws, an unguarded belt and pulley on a tilt saw, ungrounded electrical equipment and electrical cords not connected to devices and fittings to prevent tension to joints or terminal screws. Hazards associated with welding cables -- using them with damaged insulation and with a splice at less than 10 feet from their holder -- also fell under the serious category.
OSHA also observed protective covers and devices missing from electrical boxes. An additional $10,000 fine was imposed for this violation, designated as repeat because the company had been cited previously for exposed live parts in 1997.
The agency's health inspection at the site resulted in citations for three serious items, including the company's failure to evaluate the worksite to determine if spaces should be classified as permit-required confined spaces and to post signs at the location of permit spaces. Also designated as serious were violations involving blocked exits and various hazards associated with abrasive wheels. The total penalty for the serious violations was $3,750.
Two repeat health violations, with a total penalty of $7,700, were cited because of poor housekeeping at the plant and not training employees on hazards associated with chemicals used in the plant.
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.
Repeat violations occur when an employer has been cited previously for a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. A citation is currently viewed as a repeat violation if it occurs within three years either from the date that the citation becomes a final order or from the final abatement date, whichever is later.
Foamex International, Inc., with 130 employees at the Verona facility, manufactures building and construction foam products. 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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