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Region 4 News Release: 11-179-ATL (56)
Feb. 22, 2011
Contact: Michael D'Aquino      Michael Wald
Phone: 404-562-2076      404-562-2078
E-mail: d'aquino.michael@dol.gov      wald.michael@dol.gov

US Department of Labor's OSHA fines Mississippi furniture manufacturer
$66,000 in penalties for repeat and serious safety violations

OKOLONA, Miss. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited United Furniture Industries Inc. in Okolona for 18 safety violations. Proposed penalties total $66,000.

"There is no excuse for a company to disregard the safety and welfare of its workers by not following OSHA's safety standards," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's area director in Jackson. "Employers that ignore safe practices and OSHA regulations are inviting tragedy into the lives of their workers."

The company is being cited for one repeat violation with a proposed penalty of $15,000 for allegedly failing to label feeder and branch electrical circuits. In March 2010, the company was cited by OSHA for the same violation at another one of its Okolona locations. A repeat citation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

OSHA also issued the company 15 serious citations alleging an accumulation of explosive dust; failure to provide railings on stairs; blocked, unmarked and inadequate exits; allowing safety devices to be removed from nail guns; a lack of machine guards on fan blades, staplers, pulleys, chains and sprocket wheels; multiple electrical hazards, including blocked access to electrical panels; live electrical equipment exposed to potential contact; lack of coverings for unused openings in electrical panels; flexible cords substituted for fixed permanent wiring; damaged and improperly spliced flexible cords; and wiring methods that were not approved for combustible dust. Proposed penalties for the serious citations total $51,000. OSHA issues a serious citation 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.

Two other-than-serious violations were cited with no proposed penalty for a lack of procedures to transfer responsibilities for lockout/tagout of energy sources between workers and for not testing equipment to verify lockout was operational. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

United Furniture 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 independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by OSHA's Jackson Area Office, 3780 Interstate 55 N., Suite 210, Jackson, Miss. 39211; telephone 601-965-4606. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency'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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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.


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