Region 4 News Release: 09-868-ATL (251)
Aug. 20, 2009
Contact: Michael D'Aquino Michael Wald
Phone: 404-562-2076 404-562-2078
U.S. Labor Department's OSHA proposes more than $576,000 in penalties against Sims Bark and Sims Stone for 142 safety and health violations
Enforcement action targets plants in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi
ATLANTA -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing $576,750 in penalties against Sims Bark Co. and Sims Stone Co. for 142 workplace safety and health violations.
The agency is proposing 20 violations and $94,400 in penalties for the company's bark plant in Brent, Ala.; 59 violations and $260,900 in penalties for the bark and stone plants in Tuscumbia, Ala.; 49 violations and $142,350 in penalties for the bark and stone plants in Woodbury, Ga.; and 14 violations and $79,100 in penalties for the Olive Branch, Miss., bark plant. Inspections began after OSHA received a complaint and determined that similar hazards might exist at other locations of the two companies.
Willful citations are being issued against the Brent, Tuscumbia and Olive Branch bark plants and the Tuscumbia stone plant for allowing workers to service, unjam and clean machinery without procedures to ensure that workers won't be caught in or struck by equipment or burned by machines' heat strips. In addition, Tuscumbia bark plant employees worked without needed fall protection. At the Woodbury bark plant, workers who operated a machine with an unenclosed belt were exposed to dangers associated with being caught in the fast moving machinery. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
Serious citations are being issued against all of the plants, including the Woodbury stone plant. Identified hazards involve lack of employee training, exposure to electric shocks, lack of fall protection, lack of machine guards, exposure to noise hazards, struck-by dangers and accumulations of combustible dust. The agency is issuing other-than-serious violations against all of the locations for failing to keep workplace injury logs according to OSHA rules.
"Sims Bark and Sims Stone management have displayed a systemic indifference to the safety and health of their own employees, resulting in a dangerous work environment," said Cindy Coe, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta.
The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The sites were inspected by staff from OSHA's Birmingham, Ala., Jackson, Miss., and Atlanta-West Area Offices. Information concerning these inspections should be directed to OSHA's regional office at 61 Forsyth St. S.W., Room 6T50, Atlanta, Ga.; telephone 404-562-2300.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.