POUND, WI - Northeastern Wisconsin Wood Products faces $184,800 in proposed penalties from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for 16 alleged safety and health violations, including several related to exposing workers to amputation hazards.
This was the fourth time in six years that the wood pallet parts manufacturer was cited for health and safety violations. It has racked up 55 OSHA in that time.The latest round of fines, relating to four willful and six repeat alleged violations, stems from a follow-up inspection of the company's manufacturing facility on April 25.
The four willful safety violations involve a lack of machine guarding on conveyors, belts, pulleys, gears, band and trim saw blades, and woodworking machinery, as well as unguarded open-sided floors and platforms presenting a fall hazard greater than 4 feet.
OSHA said the three repeat health violations include failing to implement a hearing conservation program for workers whose noise exposure exceeded 85 decibels, and develop and implement a hazard communication program to include training for workers exposed to wood dust, diesel fuel and hydraulic fluid. Additionally, the company allowed unsanitary conditions to pose serious fire and explosion hazards by letting sawdust accumulate in piles by the outer wall and on horizontal surfaces such as pipes, wall supports and ledges.
Last July, OSHA cited Northeastern Wisconsin Wood Products for 13 willful and five additional violations carrying fines totaling $378,620. OSHA also placed the company on its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
OSHA said the pallet part maker unsuccessfully contested the 2011 citations. The Occupational Health and Review Commission issued a default judgment and the citations became final orders March 2, 2012. The willful violations included failure to provide workers with ear and eye protection;; lack of machine guards and guard rails; and accumulations of combustible dust. OSHA defines a willful violation as "one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health."
Northeastern Wisconsin Wood Products was also cited by OSHA for violations in 2006 and again in a follow-up inspection in 2007. In May 2010 the company was issued a secretary of labor petition for summary enforcement and granted 30 days to work with a Wisconsin state consultation service to abate the violations. According to OSHA, the consultation service stopped working with Northeastern Wisconsin Wood Products "due to a lack of cooperation by the company."
"Northeastern Wisconsin Wood Products has a history of failing to comply with OSHA standards dating back to 2006. Even after being placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program and working with the Wisconsin state consultation service, the company has yet to abate many violations cited in previous inspections," said Nick Walters, OSHA's regional administrator in Chicago.
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