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OSHA fines local auto parts manufacturer and staffing agency $704K

(WRDW)
Published: Sep. 13, 2016 at 11:49 AM EDT
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Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016

THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A local auto parts manufacturer and staffing agency have been fined more than $700,000 by OSHA, according to the U.S. Department Of Labor.

Federal inspectors said HP Pelzer Automotive Systems and Sizemore Incorporated continue to expose workers to fall, amputation, and electrouction hazards. HP Pelzer, based out of Thomson, manufactures BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Fiat-Chrysler, Subaru and General Motors parts. The Augusta-based agency, Sizemore Inc., previously staffed approximately 300 temporary employees at the facility.

Acting on a complaint, OSHA said a new inspection was done in March 2016, resulting in 24 safety violations. Following the inspection, Sizemore Inc. terminated it's contract with HP Pelzer citing safety concerns for its employees.

They both face a total of $704,610 in penalties.

"Employers must ensure they provide safe and healthy working conditions, at all times, and not just during or immediately following an OSHA onsite inspection," said William Fulcher, OSHA's area director in the Atlanta-East Office. "This is the third inspection of the HP Pelzer plant where OSHA has identified numerous hazards, many repeated, related to unsafe working conditions. Employees, whether permanent or temporary, should not have to be concerned whether they will get sick, injured or killed while providing for their families. It is the employer's responsibility to ensure a safe and healthful workplace."

OSHA issued 12 repeated citations to HP Pelzer for its failure to:

-Develop, implement and utilize written procedures to prevent machinery from starting-up during maintenance or servicing.

-Annually conducting inspections of the energy control procedures.

-Train employees performing work on hazardous energy sources.

-Protect employees from thermal skin burns due to contact with hot metallic surfaces.

-Ensure the repair or replacement of electrical equipment for safe operational condition.

-Protect workers from laceration and amputation hazards due to unguarded machine parts.

The agency also cited HP Pelzer for eight serious violations for exposing workers to fall hazards, not providing electrical protective equipment and failing to train workers about electrical hazards related to their activities. OSHA issued four serious citations to Sizemore for exposing workers to fall hazards, not providing training on hazardous energy sources, exposing employees to amputation, laceration and electrical live parts.

HP Pelzer Automotive Systems does qualify for OSHA's Severe Violators Enforcement Program. The program focuses on hard to manage employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.

Under the program, the agency may inspect any of the employer's facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations. The companies have 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The SVEP allows for an assessment of any new information obtained post-citation issuance that could change the citation and the employer's proposed inclusion in the program.

HP Pelzer employs approximately 10,000 workers across nine facilities in the U.S. and Mexico. The Thomson facility manufacturers car panels, dashboards and insulation products.

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