Company Settles, Cited for Failure to Protect Against Power Press Hazards

Greif Bros. Corp., headquartered in Delaware, Ohio, agreed to a corporate-wide settlement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to abate safety hazards relating to power presses at its facilities nationwide.

The citations involved the company's Houston Specialty Drum Plant in La Porte, Tex., which produces metal drums and steel pails. The company was cited for 17 violations, all of which concerned mechanical power presses, with a total penalty of $669,500. Citations were issued for failure to protect employees from malfunctioning friction brakes and potentially malfunctioning equipment as a result of not performing mechanical power press inspections, making repairs or testing before operation. Exposure to power press hazards can result in amputations, lacerations and crushed limbs.

The company operates at 185 locations in over 40 countries and employs over 10,000 workers, including more than 700 who work at facilities using press brakes that will be directly affected by the agreement.

"I am pleased that we were able to reach a corporate-wide agreement that will result in a safety and health program to protect employees against the hazards associated with power presses," said Assistant Secretary of Labor John Henshaw. "This case demonstrates that OSHA is exercising strong enforcement in appropriate circumstances."

Greif Bros. agreed to abate all hazards detailed in the citations at all its plants nationwide. The company will also initiate hazard awareness/recognition training in English, Spanish and any other language necessary to ensure comprehension for employees who are likely to operate power presses. The company also agreed to inspect all power presses at least weekly.

Greif Bros. will also have safety and health audits of its facilities conducted by a third-party auditor and will take corrective action where hazards are identified. OSHA has the authority to make unannounced monitoring visits during the audit and corrective action schedules. In addition, the company will establish and maintain a system to address employee safety and health concerns, train its managers in handling safety and health matters, and more effectively communicate safety and health issues to employees.

The citations resulted from an OSHA inspection initiated on April 4, 2002, as a result of an employee complaint.

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