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Region 4 News Release: USDL: 00-17
Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2000
Contact: Clyde Payne
PHONE: (601) 965-4606 ext.0
MEMPHIS COMPANY FINED $70,200 FOR SAFETY AND HEALTH VIOLATIONS AT BENTONIA, MISS., PLANT
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Memphis Hardwood Flooring Company and proposed penalties totaling $70,200 for safety and health violations at the company's Bentonia, Miss., plant.
According to Clyde Payne, OSHA's Jackson area director, the plant was targeted for a comprehensive safety and health inspection because of its high 1997 illness and injury rate. "High rates of illness and injury are the indicators OSHA uses to target industries and operations where an inspection might alleviate hazards, prevent accidents and save lives," said Payne.
OSHA found 16 serious safety and health violations at the plant for which proposed penalties totaled $32,500. The hazards identified included:
- elevated platforms without standard railing;
- a forklift without a backup alarm or operable brakes;
- unguarded bandsaw wheels;
- exposure to live electrical hazards;
- unguarded feed hole opening for the conveyor to take material into the fireboxes;
- no eye wash facilities while handling corrosive chemicals, and
- using compressed air under too much pressure for cleaning.
Additional penalties of $37,700 resulted from four repeat violations, including unguarded floor holes and uneven walking surfaces; stairways without standard handrails on open sides; and unguarded chains and sprockets, belts and pulleys, and rotating shafts.
The company was also cited for a repeat violation for not conducting inspections of lockout procedures which assure that machinery is locked and inoperable during maintenance and repair.
Payne said, "Our inspection identified a broad range of safety hazards. Of particular concern is the fact that several of these hazards had been identified and cited by OSHA in 1997 following a previous inspection of a fatality at another of this employer's facilities."
A serious violation 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.
Repeat violations occur when an employer has been cited previously for a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Memphis Hardwood Flooring Company employs 500 workers, 56 of whom work at the Bentonia plant where hardwood dimension lumber is produced. The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Inspections of the worksite were conducted by OSHA's area office located at 3780 I-55 North, Suite 210, Jackson, Miss. 39211-6323; telephone: (601) 965-4606.
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