Region 1 News Release: 09-1304-BOS/BOS 2009-360
Wed., Oct. 28, 2009
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
US Labor Department's OSHA proposes more than $42,000 in fines against New Balance Athletic Shoe for electrical hazards at Lawrence, Mass., distribution center
Shoe manufacturer previously cited for similar hazards at Norway, Maine, location
ANDOVER, Mass. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc. for alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards following an inspection at the shoe manufacturer's Lawrence, Mass., distribution center. The company faces a total of $42,225 in proposed fines.
OSHA's inspection found unqualified employees working on electrical panels that had not first been de-energized to prevent electric shock hazards. In addition, the workers had not been trained in safe electrical work practices, including the use of personal protective equipment, and were not wearing protective gloves. The inspection also identified ungrounded equipment, unmarked electrical disconnects, extension cords used in place of fixed wiring and wooden pallets that posed a fire hazard.
"Electricity moves at the speed of light and can kill or disable a worker literally in a flash, which is why proper training, procedures and personal protective equipment are all essential to safeguarding workers against this hazard," said Paul Mangiafico, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. "While it is fortunate that no electrocution occurred in this case, worker safety must not ever be left to chance."
As a result of its inspection, OSHA has issued the company three repeat citations, with $35,000 in fines, for the lack of training and personal protective equipment and for an ungrounded piece of equipment, and four serious citations, with $7,225 in fines, for the remaining items. The repeat citations stem from New Balance having been cited by OSHA in 2006 for similar hazards at its Norway, Maine, location. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.
Detailed information on electrical hazards and safety is available on OSHA's Web site at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3075.pdf.
New Balance Athletic Shoe has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, participate in an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Andover Area Office; telephone 978-837-4460.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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