The death of a maintenance employee has prompted the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to propose $165,200 in fines against Custom Plastics Inc. of Elk Grove Village, Ill., for alleged willful and serious violations of workplace safety and health standards.

OSHA opened an inspection at the plant in January after receiving information that the employee had fallen 12 feet while elevated by a forklift to repair a light. The investigation resulted in citations to Custom Plastics Inc. alleging two willful and seven serious violations of federal workplace safety and health regulations.

OSHA issued the alleged willful violations as a result of the company's failure to provide a platform secured to the lifting carriage or forks of the forklift, and for continuing to use forklifts that had holes drilled through the forks. Serious violations were issued as a result of unsafe practices involving repair of energized equipment, failing to obtain written approval from the manufacturers for modifications made to forklifts, and failure to provide a safe work platform during the repair of electrical equipment.

"Failing to comply with basic safety protections puts workers at unreasonable and unnecessary risk," said Diane Turek, OSHA's area director in Des Plaines, Ill. "When employers shirk their responsibility to keep the workplace free of these hazards, the results can be tragic for workers and their families."

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to appeal before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.