The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Flex-N-Gate Corp., which operates as Guardian West in Urbana, Ill., with six serious safety violations for failing to protect workers from exposure to hazardous materials and provide adequate emergency response plans and training at the company's bumper manufacturing plant.

The inspection was initiated in July 2012 after OSHA received a complaint alleging workers were being exposed to high levels of hydrochloric acid following a release of the acid during refilling operations. Proposed fines total $41,200.

"Manufacturers such as Guardian West, which are the subject of repeat complaint inspections, need to demonstrate a commitment to properly training and protecting workers from exposure to hazards," said Tom Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria, Ill. "OSHA is committed to protecting workers on the job, especially when employers fail to do so."

Three of the violations involve failing to ensure workers used protective equipment when exposed to hazards capable of causing injury and impairment. These included a lack of hand, eye and face protection for workers exposed to liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids.

The remaining violations involve failing to include evacuation routes and procedures in the company's emergency response and contingency plan and to ensure workers engaged in emergency response involving inhalation hazards were provided with breathing apparatus for respiratory protection and trained on adequate emergency response. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Flex-N-Gate employs more than 12,450 people at 50 manufacturing plants and nine product development and engineering facilities throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Spain. The Urbana plant was previously cited by OSHA in May 2012, which resulted in six serious violations. In December 2010, the inspection resulted in two serious violations.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the 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.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.