Fuyao fined $227K for unsafe working conditions

Moraine-based Fuyao Glass America has been fined $227,000 in penalties related to unsafe working conditions, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s watchdog office found multiple machine safety violations, which expose workers to amputation and other serious injuries. OSHA officials have said they received complaints from within the company about “deplorable” working conditions.

RELATED: Fuyao workers file complaint with OSHA

The lack of personal protective equipment, electrical hazards, and failing to train workers about hazardous chemicals were also brought up as serious issues of concern. OSHA has cited the company for 23 serious safety violations and one “other-than-serious” violation.

“Fuyao Glass America needs to protect its workers. Period,” said Ken Montgomery, OSHA’s area director in Cincinnati. “Since Fuyao began operations in October 2015, we have received multiple complaints and conducted eight inspections at the facility. We found safety and health violations in six of them.”

RELATED: Machine guards have been a problem in past

Montgomery said OSHA will remain vigilant until Fuyao protects its workers from “serious safety hazards” by making needed improvements to equipment, procedures and training.

“Providing jobs in a community should not come at the expense of workers’ safety and health,” he said.

Most recently, the company was cited for 11 serious violations carrying proposed penalties of $131,836 on Nov. 2. This followed two inspections opened in May 2016, where inspectors found workers exposed to operating parts of machinery because Fuyao “failed to implement energy control procedures and install adequate machine guarding, electrical safety violations and unmarked exits,” according to OSHA.

Other violations this year include:

• On Oct. 6, the agency issued four serious and one other-than-serious violation to the company for lack of personal protective equipment, failing to guard live electrical wires to prevent contact by employees, and improper use of electrical cords. OSHA proposed total penalties of $48,101 for the violations found in two separate inspections.

• On July 27, OSHA issued three serious citations for lack of exit signs, lighting and exit height and failing to implement an alarm system. OSHA proposed penalties of $21,000.

• On July 14, the company received three serious violations of OSHA’s hazards communication standards, which govern the use of chemicals in the workplace. The agency proposed penalties of $12,000.

• On April 11, 2016, the agency issued two serious violations with proposed penalties of $14,000 for lack of machine guarding and not securing floor openings.

Scott Allen, spokesman for OSHA, said Fuyao has contested all citations. Allen said the company needs to correct all safety hazards and make sure workers are in a suitable environment.

“Someone’s going to end up losing a hand or an arm — or worse, they could get killed by these machines,” Allen said. “This company simply is not protecting them.”

While the penalties are hefty, OSHA has issued much larger penalties to other companies this year — even up to millions of dollars. Allen said some companies need to make sure safety is always the first priority.

“In this case, it’s more about business and production over worker safety, yes,” he said.

The company 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.

Calls were left with company representatives, including Fuyao President John Gauthier and Vice President David Burrows.

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