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Region 4 News Release: USDOL: 01-27
Friday, Feb. 23, 2001
Contact: Ramona Morris
Phone: (205) 731-1534 ext.0
OSHA PROPOSES $181,200 PENALTY FOLLOWING FATAL ACCIDENT AT ANNISTON FOUNDRY
The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Union Foundry Company, Anniston, Ala., and proposed penalties totaling $181,200 for serious, willful and repeat safety and health violations following the investigation of an Aug. 22 fatality at the plant.
The accident happened when an employee was caught in an unguarded conveyor pulley while he attempted to unclog a sand chute nearby. "This tragic accident could easily have been prevented if the employer had adopted standard safety procedures that guard workers from hazards associated with moving machine parts," said Ramona Morris, acting director of OSHA's Birmingham area office.
Following a safety inspection, OSHA proposed a penalty of $70,000 for one willful citation in connection with the unguarded conveyor pulley.
"A willful citation results in cases where there appears to be an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH act and regulations," Morris explained. "In this case, the conveyor pulley's guard had been removed three months earlier when the machinery was relocated while new equipment was installed. The guard was never replaced even though it was sitting near the machine in plain view."
Morris added, "We issued a willful citation against Union Foundry because no effort was made to assure the safety of workers even though management was aware that an unguarded conveyor could result in serious injury or death. In fact, only months before, a worker had been killed in a similar accident in a Tyler, Texas, plant owned by the same parent company that owns the Anniston foundry."
The safety inspection resulted in an additional $58,500 penalty for 17 serious citations for: electrical violations, including unmarked and open circuit breakers; an unguarded pit opening; other unguarded machines, and operating a crane without clearly marked load rates and audible warning devices.
The agency also cited two repeat safety violations with total penalties of $12,500 for operating defective powered industrial trucks and failing to ground electrical equipment. Both violations had been cited previously following OSHA inspections of the company in 1999.
A health inspection was initiated, shortly after the fatality investigation began, as part of OSHA's national emphasis program for silica. This inspection resulted in seven serious health violations with proposed penalties totaling $40,000. Violations included failure to follow silica dust standards and not providing personal protective equipment to employees exposed to noise and chemical hazards.
A serious violation, whether the result of a safety or health inspection, is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
Union Foundry employs approximately 400 workers at the Anniston location. The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The inspection was conducted by OSHA's area office located at Vestavia Village, 2047 Canyon Rd., Birmingham, Ala. 35216; telephone: (205) 731-1534.
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