Company Shares OSHA Compliance Lesson With Others

OSHA cited Mohawk Industries Inc., and proposed penalties totaling\r\n$105,000 following a fatality at the company's West Rome Dye House in\r\nRome, Ga.

OSHA cited Mohawk Industries Inc., and proposed penalties totaling $105,000 following a fatality at the company''s West Rome Dye House in Rome, Ga.

A worker standing by his forklift truck was hit by another lift truck on Feb. 24 and died during surgery four days later, according to OSHA.

The forklift that struck the victim was moving a buggy loaded with carpet that obstructed the driver''s view.

Following inspection of the fatality, OSHA cited Mohawk with one willful violation with a proposed fine of $70,000 for permitting employees to operate powered industrial trucks in a forward motion while the view of the path of travel is obstructed.

Five additional serious citations for safety violations involving powered industrial trucks and lockout/tagout procedures drew penalties totaling $35,000.

The powered industrial truck violations involved training of operators by an unqualified instructor and failing to certify employees as trained and evaluated.

Violations related to lockout/tagout procedures that render machinery inoperable during maintenance and repair -- included lack of energy control procedures; failure to conduct a periodic inspection; allowing unauthorized employees to perform lockout on machinery, and failure to train and certify workers for lockout/tagout functions.

"This company uses lift trucks in 127 of its 132 facilities nationwide and has an extensive lift truck safety program," said Thomas Brown, OSHA''s Atlanta-West area director. "During training, a video, which Mohawk helped to produce, specifically instructs that loads should be trailed when forward view is obstructed."

Brown continued, "We issued a willful citation in this case because company officials knew that lifts were moving buggies on a daily basis with the forward view obstructed. Even though there was a forklift safety program in place, not action was taken to address the hazard.

"An unenforced program is an ineffectual one. If Mohawk had followed its own guidelines, this tragedy could have been avoided."

Brown said he was pleased, however, that the company had taken steps to correct safety hazards after the tragic accident. "In fact," added Brown, "they went a step further. As a leader in the carpet industry, Mohawk pledged to sponsor a series of roundtable discussions focusing on industry safety and health concerns affecting Northwest Georgia''s increasingly diverse workforce."

Brown explained that the conferences will allow industry representatives to pool their knowledge on how best to address safety issues among the industry''s multi-cultural employee base.

During "brainstorming" sessions, Mohawk will share what they have learned during their OSHA experience and will encourage participating companies to emphasize safety awareness and compliance.

Calhoun, Ga.-based Mohawk Industries is the second largest carpet manufacturer in the United States.

There are approximately 25 employees at the West Rome Dye House and about 25,000 nationwide.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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