An Ohio auto parts manufacturer is facing $3.43 million in fines after OSHA hit the company with a staggering 57 safety violations. OSHA chief David Michaels said the company has shown a “total disregard for its workers.”
OSHA investigated Sunfield Inc.’s Hebron, OH, plant after two workers suffered severe injuries in separate incidents in January and February. The investigation found:
- On Jan. 6, a 22-year-old temporary worker suffered multiple lacerations and a fractured elbow while removing scrap from a blanking press. Operating machine parts caught his arm because safety light curtains weren’t working correctly. OSHA said a supervisor identified the safety issue two hours before the injury but failed to place the equipment out of service. The temp worker had been on the job for just six months.
- On Feb. 18, a full-time 58-year-old worker had to undergo surgical amputation of his right arm after it was crushed as he removed scrap on a robotic press line. The machine’s danger zone didn’t have adequate safeguards to prevent employees from contacting machine parts. The worker had been on the job for just a year.
OSHA found Sunfield didn’t take the necessary steps to protect employees from moving machine parts. The company failed to:
- prevent machines from unintentionally starting when workers performed service and maintenance, such as clearing scrap, and
- provide adequate safety mechanisms such as guards, locking devices and other procedures to prevent contact with moving parts.
OSHA found multiple electrical safety violations as well, including a lack of personal protective equipment, workers exposed to “live” electrical parts, and the use of damaged equipment.
All told, OSHA issued 46 egregious willful, two willful, one repeat and eight serious safety violations with penalties that totaled $3,426,900. Sunfield was also placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
OSHA chief David Michaels said in a press release:
“Sunfield has shown a total disregard for its workers, the kind rarely seen since the darkest days of the past when callous industrialists ruled and put profits before human suffering and common decency. This has to stop. We hope that today’s action brings an end to these conditions and convinces this employer that their behavior is intolerable.”
Sunfield has an extensive history of federal safety violations dating back 20 years. Since 1997, OSHA has issued 118 citations against the company for numerous machine hazards similar to the ones from this recent inspection.
Michaels said the company “made and broke countless promises to improve safety conditions” after OSHA inspections. Michaels alleged the company also “ignored its own corporate safety manuals and its safety manager’s warnings that workers lacked training to protect themselves.”
Three temporary staffing agencies that supplied workers to Sunfield were also fined $7,000 each for failure to provide:
- lockout/tagout training for affected employees, and
- mechanical power press safe operation training before sending temp workers to the site.
Sunfield’s Hebron, OH, factory is the company’s only U.S. plant. Sunfield’s parent company, Ikeda Manufacturing Company, is headquartered in Ota-City, Gunma, Japan. Sunfield was established in 1993, and it has a daily workforce of about 175. OSHA investigators said the Ohio plant has a high rate of employee turnover.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.