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Region 4 News Release: 11-789-ATL (264)
June 6, 2011
Contact: Michael D'Aquino      Michael Wald
Phone: 404-562-2076      404-562-2078
Email: d'aquino.michael@dol.gov      wald.michael@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Alabama lumber company with 24 safety
and record keeping violations; proposes nearly $160,000 in penalties

THOMASVILLE, Ala. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Thomasville Lumber Co. for 24 alleged safety and record keeping violations at its plant in Thomasville. Proposed penalties total $159,700. OSHA began its inspection in December 2010 as part of its national emphasis program to prevent workplace amputations.

The company received citations for five willful violations. One, carrying a $70,000 proposed fine (the maximum allowed by law), is for not requiring that lockout or tagout of equipment be performed only by authorized employees performing servicing or maintenance to prevent unintentional startup that can lead to injury or death. The other four relate to the company's failure to maintain complete and accurate entries in its OSHA log between 2007 and 2010. OSHA proposed a $10,000 penalty for each of the four years, totaling $40,000. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Citations for 13 serious violations relate to the company's allowing employees to perform service or maintenance on equipment without first locking it out to prevent unintentional startup, not providing locks to employees, three instances where machine guards were missing, using a platform that did not have a standard railing, allowing employees to use improperly installed stairs, using stairs that lacked a standard handrail, allowing employees to access electrical boxes with unused openings that were not effectively closed and without a cover, and using flexible electrical cords that were not approved for wet locations. Additionally, training for forklift operators did not include information available in the operator's manual, employees operated a forklift with a non-operating horn, and the forklift operator's visibility was impaired by a plastic tarp used during rain storms. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Penalties total $48,300.

Two $700 penalties were issued for other-than-serious instances when the company's OSHA log failed to include a detailed description of an incident. Citations for four separate other-than-serious violations were issued with no monetary penalties for not guarding a live electrical hazard of more than 50 volts, not protecting electrical conductors from abrasion, not posting the load capacity in a forklift cab and using flexible cords as a substitute for fixed wiring. 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.

"Employers must provide their employees with safe workplaces and be committed to their safety. OSHA will not hesitate to impose significant penalties when it finds that workers are being endangered on the job, and when employers intentionally disregard their responsibility to completely and accurately maintain injury logs that can help them identify problem areas," said Cindy Coe, OSHA regional administrator.

Thomasville Lumber Co. specializes in the processing of yellow pine products from logs.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to contest them and the proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA's Mobile office, 1141 Montlimar Drive, Suite 1006; telephone 251-441-6131.

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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