Safety and OSHA News

Ashley Furniture’s OSHA fines now total almost $2.3 million in 2015

For the third time this year, OSHA has issued citations and fines to Ashley Furniture. The focus this time: failing to protect workers from moving machine parts. 

The new fines for violations at Ashley’s Whitehall, WI, facility total $431,000. In January, OSHA issued almost $1.77 million in fines for 38 violations after an investigation at the company’s Arcadia, WI, plant found workers experienced more than 1,000 recordable work-related injuries in the previous 3.5 years.

In July, OSHA issued $83,200 in fines as the result of an investigation into an amputation injury.

The exact total in OSHA fines now: $2,280,200.

OSHA previously placed Ashley in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).

The most recent fines include one willful, five repeat and two serious citations. The violations include failure to:

  • implement procedures to prevent machines from unintentional start-up when operators changed blades, cleaned machines and cleared jams, exposing workers to dangerous machine operating parts, and
  • have operators use locking devices to prevent unexpected machine movement (lockout/tagout).

“Workers risked amputation injuries each time they serviced the machinery,” said Mark Hysell, OSHA’s area director in Eau Claire, WI. “The company must make immediate, enforceable safety improvements to its facilities nationwide.”

In a statement, Ashley called the allegations “outrageous” and said it will “vigorously challenge” the citations.

Paul Waters, legal counsel for Ashley, said in the statement:

“At all times, Ashley has machine guards in place that are provided by the manufacturer and, in some cases, the company has gone beyond what manufacturers put in place by installing additional guards and implementing special procedures to protect workers.”

Ashley also contested the citations issued in January and July. A hearing will be scheduled before an administrative law judge of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

As a result of its SVEP designation, OSHA investigations are open at Ashley’s facilities in California, Mississippi, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

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