AUGUSTA, ME – Employees at a Waterville auto body manufacturing plant repeatedly informed management of fall and noise hazards but these reports went ignored until the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an inspection on Oct. 1, 2020, in response to a complaint.
Now, The Shyft Group Duramag LLC – formerly F3 MFG Inc. – faces $393,992 in proposed fines for not addressing these and other hazards that placed employees at risk. OSHA cited the plant for two willful and 10 serious violations.
“Our inspectors found plant employees without fall protection working atop truck bodies and others exposed to excess noise levels while steam cleaning,” said OSHA Area Director David McGuan in Augusta, Maine. “Management’s knowledge of these hazards and their failure to correct them led us to cite these conditions as willful violations.”
OSHA also issued citations for serious violations stemming from the plant’s failure to:
Guard employees against struck-by and crushing hazards from homemade attachments used on auto lifts and provide adequate training to employees.
Guard machinery to prevent employees from coming in contact with machines’ operating parts.
Conduct a hazard assessment to determine what personal protective equipment employees required and select appropriate protective equipment for employees.
Provide appropriate protective goggles for workers and other persons near a welding area that lacked noncombustible or flameproof screens or shields.
Establish and implement a respiratory protection program, medically evaluate employees’ ability to wear respirators, fit-test employees before using respirators, train employees on respirators and adequately maintain and store respirators.
Securely anchor machines to prevent them from moving.
Refrain from using flexible cords and/or cables as a substitute for fixed electrical wiring and adequately guard electrical openings.
OSHA’s website includes information for employees and employers about hazards and safeguards associated with fall protection, noise, machine guarding, respiratory protection and other topics.
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.