Texas Manufacturer Faces $1.1 Million Fine

OSHA cites door maker after accidents cause workers to suffer hand injuries.

A Texas door manufacturer is facing a fine of $1,124,500 following a series of accidents that caused two workers to suffer finger amputations and another to endure crushing injuries to both hands, OSHA said.

Lifetime Doors Inc. is being cited for 37 alleged safety and health violations at its Hearne, Texas, facility.

OSHA''s inspection of the company resulted in 17 alleged willful instance-by-instance violations of employer failure to train employees in locking out machinery, which contributed to serious hand injuries, including finger amputations.

"This company allowed employees to continue working on the very machines that caused two employees to suffer finger amputations within 24 hours of each other," OSHA Administrator Charles Jeffress said. "The employer failed to comply with known safety requirements, even in the face of repeated injuries and employee complaints. The manner in which this company operates epitomizes its disregard for employee safety and cannot be tolerated."

OSHA assessed Lifetime Doors $860,000 for the 17 instances of failing to train employees in lockout/tagout procedures. An additional $210,00 penalty was proposed for three alleged willful violations of machine guarding requirements and failure to implement a lockout/tagout program.

OSHA also cited the company for 15 serious violations of the hearing conservation, hazard communication, flammable and combustible liquids, personal protective equipment, powered industrial trucks, machine guarding requirements and electrical standards. Penalties for the serious violations totaled $53,500. Two other-than-serious violations for failure to post noise regulations and violating recordkeeping requirements were issued with a proposed penalty of $1,000.

"During our inspection, we found that managers at the Hearne plant were well aware of viable safety and health policies and still failed to implement them," Jeffress said. "This company knows safety regulations, having experienced 12 previous OSHA inspections and numerous citations. Yet, they have continued to compromise their employees'' safety."

This citation resulted from an investigation begun May 5 following an employee complaint regarding finger amputation. Within days of the initial inspection, another employee suffered serious crushing injuries to both hands after being pulled into an unguarded machine.

Because of ongoing injuries at the plant, OSHA ultimately posted "imminent danger" notices on two machines where employees had been injured and no corrective measures had been taken. The notices were removed only after the company provided guards for those machines.

Lifetime Doors produces doors for the home industry, including hollow core, solid and bifold doors. The company employs 540 employees at six plants nationwide, including 81 at the Hearne facility.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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