OSHA proposes hefty fines against Texas company

Paul V. Arnold, Noria Corporation
Tags: workplace safety

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Hobbs Bonded Fibers Inc. of Waco, Texas, and proposed $255,050 in penalties for exposing workers to amputations and other serious injuries. "Employers must take necessary precautions to protect employees from workplace hazards," said Dean Wingo, OSHA's area director in Fort Worth. "Workers can suffer serious injuries, including broken bones and amputations, from machines not being adequately guarded." OSHA's citations against Hobbs alleged four willful, 26 serious and two other-than-serious violations following a comprehensive safety and health inspection that began Feb. 10. The inspection was conducted under OSHA's Site-Specific Targeting plan which targets companies with high workplace injury and illness rates. Hobbs employs about 215 workers to manufacture bonded fiber products such as automotive insulation, quilt batting, fiberfill and Nomex insulation. The willful citations were issued for failing to provide adequate guards on several different machines to protect workers from amputations and other serious injuries. Hobbs also failed to adequately maintain workplace injury and illness records. Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The serious violations included exposing workers to fall, electrical and additional machine guarding hazards; lack of periodic inspections of equipment; lack of effective programs for respiratory protection and permit-required confined space entry; and lack of personal protective equipment, such as eye, face, and hand protection from corrosive chemicals. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could occur. The two other-than-serious citations concerned additional workplace injury and illness recordkeeping violations. Hobbs has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Fort Worth area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


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