June 8, 2016
US Labor Department, Ashley Furniture reach comprehensive settlement
Company to abate all hazards, implement safeguards to prevent future injuries
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Ashley Furniture, the nation's largest retailer of home furnishings, have entered into a corporate-wide settlement agreement that provides an effective framework for protecting workers from machine hazards. The agreement also resolves all pending OSHA citations at the company's plants in Arcadia and Whitehall Wisconsin, and in Ecru and Ripley, Mississippi.
Among the terms in the agreement, Ashley will demonstrate its corporate commitment to safety by retaining a Vice President for Safety responsible for managing a corporate-wide program to identify and evaluate prevention and control of machine hazards. The comprehensive settlement emphasizes employee involvement and management commitment to the implementation of the machine safety program.
"With this settlement, Ashley Furniture is taking important steps to change its culture, invest in its employees and work with OSHA to make significant changes to protect the safety and health of workers," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "We look forward to working with Ashley Furniture to ensure that it fulfills its commitment and focuses on reducing injuries on the job. This settlement is an important reminder that every worker has the right to a safe workplace, and we will continue to use all available tools to protect that right."
Under the settlement agreement, Ashley will implement a number of safety measures to protect its employees and will submit status reports to OSHA annually during the two-year term of the agreement. The company will conduct periodic audits of facilities to identify machine hazards, as well as an annual review of the effectiveness of the program; develop internal corporate monitoring provisions; and identify a corporate officer or senior managers who will act as a designated official responsible for implementation and oversight of the agreement.
"This settlement will require Ashley Furniture to implement a program to prevent machine hazards, in particular those that lead to amputations. In addition, workers will now have a voice in how to continuously improve working conditions and safety in the covered plants," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.
The settlement agreement with Ashley resolves numerous violations that OSHA issued to several Ashley workplaces. OSHA conducted inspections at several Ashley workplaces after learning of injuries at the Arcadia facility, and realizing that similar hazardous conditions could exist at the other workplaces. To resolve all citations, the company will correct all cited violations and will pay penalties of $1.75 million.
A copy of the settlement agreement is available here.
Headquartered in Arcadia, Ashley Furniture is listed by Forbes magazine as the 105th largest private company in America with $4 billion in annual revenue as of October 2015. The worldwide distributor employs nearly 22,000 workers at 30 locations nationwide.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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Release Number: 16-1162-NAT
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