Nichiha USA Inc. of Georgia cited for safety violations and nearly $140,000 in
proposed penalties by the US Labor Department's OSHA
MACON, Ga. – Nichiha USA Inc. has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for four repeat and three serious safety violations following a September 2013 inspection at the company's manufacturing facility on Avondale Mill Road in Macon. OSHA initiated the inspection in response to a complaint. The proposed penalties total $138,600.
"Nichiha is not taking the necessary steps to protect its workers by ensuring machinery is properly locked out and deenergized before employees perform maintenance and cleaning," said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. "Workers are exposed to the risk of serious injury or death just to earn a paycheck. Changes must be made immediately."
The repeat violations, with $117,810 in penalties, include failing to provide workers with training to understand the purpose and function of the energy control program when performing servicing and maintenance on equipment, and not using a group lockout procedure for each worker to prevent equipment startup. Additionally, the employer did not include all confined spaces in its workplace evaluation and failed to utilize a specific written energy control procedure for an area where employees were required to clean debris. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The company received citations for the same violations, with $20,790 in penalties, at this same facility in 2009.
This employer has been inspected six times by OSHA since 2009, receiving citations in five of the six inspections. The company has been put into OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses resources on inspecting employers who have demonstrated indifference to their legal obligations by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.
The serious violations involve the employer failing to conduct annual inspections of the energy control procedures, exposing workers to caught-in hazards by not locking out all of the energy sources on equipment, and not accounting for all workers before removing locks and energizing equipment that was undergoing maintenance and servicing. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. The current citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/NichihaUSAInc_939748_0224_14.PDF*
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.
Nichiha USA Inc. manufactures fiber cement exterior claddings and employs approximately 192 workers at the facility in Macon.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, preliminary data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries shows fatal work injuries in Georgia accounted for 76 of the 4,383 fatal work injuries reported in 2012.
Additional details are available at http://bls.gov/iif/home.htm.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Atlanta-East Area Office at 770-493-6644.
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.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.
* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.