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Region 5 News Release: 11-1542-CHI
Nov. 1, 2011
Contact: Scott Allen      Rhonda Burke
Phone: 312-353-6976      312-353-6976
Email: allen.scott@dol.gov      burke.rhonda@dol.gov

US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Gardner Equipment Co. in
Columbus and Juneau, Wis., for 22 safety and health violations

COLUMBUS, Wis. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Gardner Equipment Co. for safety and health violations at its Columbus and Juneau facilities, including one willful violation for failing to ensure workers used personal protective equipment while painting metal birdhouses at the Columbus facility. OSHA has proposed $125,900 in fines for a total of 22 violations found at the two locations.

"Gardner Equipment Co. has a responsibility to ensure its employees are properly protected from known hazards in the workplace," said Kim Stille, OSHA's area director in Madison. "Failing to ensure workers use protective clothing and respiratory protection demonstrates a lack of regard for workers' safety and health. OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so."

The willful safety violation was cited for failing to ensure that workers at the Columbus facility wore protective clothing - including eye and face protection, gloves and a barrier suit - while using powdered paint containing skin irritants and sensitizers. A manager was made aware of some workers experiencing skin rashes on their arms and hands, a known side effect of the paint substance. The company, also, failed to train workers on the use of personal protective equipment. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

The company was cited for 16 serious health and safety violations at the Columbus facility involving failing to establish a respiratory program that includes fit testing, medical evaluations and training, and failing to properly clean and store respirators. The employer also failed to evaluate the workplace for confined space hazards and establish a permit-required confined space program; failed to establish and train workers in a hazard communication program; failed to establish an energy control program, including the provision of lockout/tagout devices and training on proper procedures; and allowed workers to eat and drink in areas contaminated by hazardous chemicals. Other serious violations involved a nonfunctional automatic sprinkler and flame gate, and the company's failure to have adequate explosion protection for combustible dust collectors and cyclones inside the building.

The company's Juneau facility was cited for three serious safety violations involving their energy control program, including the lack of machine specific procedures, failure to train employees on lockout/tagout procedures and the lack of lockout devices, as well as failing to establish a hazard communication program and provide related training. 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.

An other-than-serious safety violation was cited at both facilities for failing to verify, through written certification, that a hazard assessment regarding personal protective equipment was performed. 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.

The citations are available at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/GardnerEquipmentCo_77132_101_11.pdf*;
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/GardnerEquipmentCo_77148_1031_11.pdf*;
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/GardnerEquipmentCo_315466037_1031_11.pdf*.

Gardner, a manufacturer and painter of metal birdhouses that employs about 56 workers, has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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 Madison Area Office at 608-441-5388.

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.


* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF documents.


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