Auto workers at Fuyao Glass in Moraine, Ohio filed a complaint with OSHA on May 9 calling for a “wall-to-wall” investigation into what they claim is a wide range of dangerous conditions found throughout the plant, including fire hazards, electrocution risks and laceration injuries, among other hazards.
The workers’ complaint comes two weeks after OSHA found serious violations at the Fuyao facility and issued fines. Fuyao is a major supplier of glass products to Hyundai, Kia, GM and Chrysler. The company did not respond to messages asking for a comment.
In their complaint, workers – who are in the process of organizing with the UAW –called the recent OSHA fines “the tip of the iceberg,” and stressed the need for a comprehensive probe into a range of serious hazards that persist at the plant.
“People here have lost their fingertips because we don’t have protective gloves, or gotten their toes crushed because machines don’t have the necessary guards,” said Cynthia Harper, a production worker at the Fuyao plant. “The company should be doing everything it can to make the plant safe, but it has only ignored us. We can’t stay quiet any longer, so we are calling on the federal government to hold the company accountable.”
The workers’ complaint alleges more than 30 different health and safety hazards, including:
- Fire hazards: The plant is equipped with furnaces and workers regularly handle highly flammable materials, yet few workers have ever seen an evacuation plan in the event of a fire, and the plant allegedly has never conducted an evacuation drill. Exit signs throughout the plant are incorrect and lead to dead ends with no way out.
- Electrocution risks: Workers claim they must wade through standing water that regularly accumulates on the plant floor near electrical wires and pedal switches. Power lines allegedly snake across the floor despite moving equipment, including cranes, that could hit the lines and spark an electrical fire.
- Laceration injuries: Workers routinely suffer serious cuts, often requiring stitches, from sharp knives used to trim excess plastic from windows after lamination. Workers claim the plant’s management has refused to provide cut-resistant gloves after repeated requests from workers, and has failed to provide kits to clean up blood spills after cuts do occur. In the past month alone, say workers, at least six workers have suffered serious cuts.
- Other hazards: Workers allegedly lack proper respiratory protection equipment to protect them from exposure to silica; conveyer belts and other equipment throughout the plant allegedly lack guards to protect workers from injury; and as the plant adds more production lines, workers say aisles are becoming congested and routinely are blocked by forklifts and other transport vehicles.
The Fuyao plant, which opened in 2014 at the site of a former GM facility, has received an estimated $14 million in subsidies from the state of Ohio.
“Many people assumed the Fuyao plant would be a boon to the community when it opened, but those of us who report to work here every day feel like we’re holding our lives in our hands because the company refuses to make the plant safe,” said Nicholas Tannenbaum, a production worker at Fuyao Glass. “Fuyao owes its workers and our community a safe factory. The federal government needs to look closely at the full range of safety risks throughout the plant, and we’re going to continue speaking out until the plant provides good, safe jobs that people across Moraine deserve.”