Region 4 News Release: USDOL: 01-94
Thurs., June 14, 2001
Contact: Bill Grimes
PHONE: (770) 493-5405
OSHA CITES NORCROSS, GA., MANUFACTURER FOR SERIOUS SAFETY VIOLATIONS AND PROPOSES $61,650 IN PENALTIES
ATLANTA -- The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Atlanta Cap Manufacturing, Inc., and proposed penalties totaling $61,650 following the investigation of a fatal accident at its Norcross plant.
The accident occur on Dec. 28, 2000, when seven employees positioned themselves in front of a two-fork pallet with a hand-powered jack handle and began moving a 5,500 pound machine. As they guided the equipment down a ramp, the wheels of the pallet caught on a crack in the concrete floor. The machine shifted and toppled forward off the pallet. Six employees were able to escape, but the seventh was crushed as the machine fell.
"If the employees had used a forklift and properly secured the machine, this tragic accident could have been avoided," said William Grimes, acting area director for OSHA's Atlanta-East office. "While investigating the circumstances surrounding this incident, the investigator observed other serious safety violations and was authorized to do a complete inspection of the baseball cap manufacturing plant," he added.
Along with citing the company for not using appropriate moving equipment and for not properly securing the load to be moved, OSHA issued an additional 17 serious citations.
Violations included failing to have:
- equipment properly wired to electrical breakers;
- lockout/tagout procedures in place so that individual machines could not be re-started while an employee did maintenance or repair work;
- an emergency action plan.
The agency found unguarded machinery, blocked aisle ways, and exit signs placed above areas where no exit existed. Other exit signs, properly located, were not illuminated, making it impossible during an emergency for second-shift employees to find their way out of the building.
OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
"A breakdown in communication occurred among managers and employees," Grimes stated. "Top-level management officials were routinely rotated through this facility every six months without an exchange of safety needs and requirements. Another factor contributing to the breakdown was the language barrier. Managers and employees spoke English, Chinese or Vietnamese, but few were fluent in more than one language, making it difficult to communicate safe work practices."
The Taiwan-based company, which employs approximately 100 workers at the Norcross plant and 600 internationally, has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA's proposed penalties are based on the violation of safety or health standards, rather than the extent of injuries suffered or loss of life.
Inspection of the Norcross plant was conducted by the OSHA office located at LaVista Perimeter Office Park, Bldg. 7, Ste 110, Tucker, Ga., 30084-4154; phone: (770) 493-6644.
OSHA urges employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the Atlanta area office. OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline - 1-800-321-OSHA - may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside normal business hours.