OSHA Issues $200,000 in Fines to a Pair of West Virginia Companies

OSHA has cited a demolition firm and a furniture company -- both in West Virginia and both accused of failing to correct previous OSHA violations -- resulting in more than $200,000 in total fines, the agency announced Feb. 9.

The agency says it cited Cherry Valley Furniture Inc. for failing to correct safety and health hazards previously identified at its Richwood, W.Va., site., and issued $156,840 in penalties to the company. The custom-made office furniture company employs 20 workers.

"Cherry Valley Furniture's refusal to correct the many hazards OSHA found threatens its employees' safety and health," said Stanley Elliott, OSHA area director in Charleston. "The significant penalty of $156,840 in this case demonstrates our commitment to protect America's workers."

The agency also says the failure of Par Industrial Corp., a Nitro, W.Va., demolition firm, to protect its workers against serious safety and health hazards has resulted in $50,500 in fines.

"This employer was given ample time to put effective worker safeguards in place but did not do so," Elliot said. "It is inexcusable that a company would compound its initial failure to protect workers by refusing to honor its commitment to fix these hazards."

OSHA responded to complaint

OSHA initiated its Cherry Valley Furniture investigation in August 2004 in response to a complaint alleging that the company had not abated machine guarding and ventilation violations cited after an OSHA inspection the previous May. Cherry Valley Furniture now has received 24 failure-to-abate notices from OSHA, with a proposed penalty of $149,640.

The company also was issued citations for three alleged repeat violations with a proposed penalty of $4,800, and two alleged serious violations with a proposed penalty of $7,200.

The failure-to-abate notices address:

  • Spray paint booth hazards;
  • Respirator deficiencies;
  • Lack of fire extinguisher training;
  • Electrical hazards;
  • Machine guarding hazards;
  • Recording errors; and
  • Lack of hazard communication training.

The repeat violations include electrical hazards; failure to maintain a clean and orderly place of employment; and failure to post the citations from the May 2004 inspection. The serious violations include deficiencies related to personal protection equipment and various electrical hazards.

A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Repeat citations are issued when an inspection reveals failure to comply with standards for which the business has previously been cited.

Of OSHA's more than 39,000 inspections in fiscal year 2004, 20 percent were in response to workers' complaints, the agency says.

Par Industrial failed to abate violations

Par Industrial Corp. originally was cited by OSHA in May 2004 for 27 serious violations of safety and health standards. The agency says it fined Par Industrial a total of $6,300 and gave the company until June 15 to correct the hazards. The company submitted inadequate abatement verification and was asked to submit additional information, according to OSHA.

In August, the company was performing work in Kopperston, W.Va., when OSHA received a complaint and a second inspection was initiated.

During that inspection, OSHA found that most of the original violations had not been corrected. As a result, 10 failure-to-abate notices were issued with a proposed penalty of $50,500. An additional serious violation with a proposed penalty of $1,000 was issued because a truck crane was overloaded and tipped over.

The hazards include:

  • Lack of a respiratory assessment program for workers exposed to metal fumes during burning and cutting operations;
  • No person on-site with valid first aid training;
  • Lack of a written hazard communication program for employees exposed to diesel fuel and propane; and
  • Problems with flammable liquids, fire extinguishers and first aid.

OSHA issues failure-to-abate notices when an employer had agreed to correct cited hazards and the agreement has become final, but a subsequent OSHA inspection finds that the hazards have not been corrected.

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