Dec. 16, 2015
Worker's hand mutilated because his employer, Southern Fiber Inc.,
knowingly disregarded identified OSHA safety hazards
A 'preventable' incident, agency report reveals
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - A new employee has to cope with meeting people, learning new skills and making a good impression. None of these efforts matter if an employer fails to ensure a safe and healthy workplace, a sad reality faced by a newly hired worker who suffered a traumatic hand injury after three days on the job at Southern Fiber Inc.
A U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection determined that the fiber-processing machine started unexpectedly as the worker - a 30-year-old man - tried to clear a jam caused by mattress foam. The machine removed all skin from then man's hand to the wrist. OSHA issued citations to Southern Fiber on Dec. 15 for one willful, three repeated, 14 serious and three other-than-serious safety violations. Proposed penalties total $116,270.
"Southern Fiber knew the dangers that workers faced, yet it made no attempt to correct identified safety hazards," said Condell Eastmond, director of OSHA's Fort Lauderdale Area Office. "A 30-year-old employee, who had been on the job for three days, suffered a horrific and preventable injury. Management has failed its obligation to protect workers."
OSHA issued a willful citation for failure to establish safety procedures to prevent machinery from starting up during maintenance and servicing.
The agency also issued three repeated citations for failing to provide protective guards on equipment to prevent workers from being hit by or caught between moving machine parts, neglected to train workers to use fire extinguishers and allowed workers to operate forklifts without training. OSHA issued citations for similar violations in 2014 at Southern Fiber's Orlando location.
Additionally, OSHA issued serious citations for violations, including failing to protect workers from electrical shock hazards and exposing workers to unguarded machinery and falls. The agency also cited the company for not providing employees working near ovens with thermal protective gloves.
OSHA also cited Southern Fiber for other violations involving failure to report the hospitalization of an injured employee violated the revised record-keeping rule that requires employers to notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within eight hours, and work-related inpatient hospitalizations, amputations or eye loss within 24 hours.
View the current citations at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/SouthernFiberInc_1072818.pdf
OSHA has inspected Southern Fiber 12 times since 2010, resulting in 39 citations. The agency has proposed that the company be placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program for demonstrating indifference to providing a safe and healthful workplace for employees.
The company manufactures and distributes polyester products, including bedspreads, mattresses and outdoor patio furniture. It has facilities in Miami Gardens and Orlando; Charlotte, North Carolina; Seattle; and Los Angeles.
Southern Fiber has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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/.
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) or the agency's Fort Lauderdale Area Office at 954-424-0242.
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Release Number: 15-2334-ATL (395)
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