The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Michael Bianco Inc. for 15 alleged serious violations of workplace health and safety standards and has proposed a total of $45,000 in fines against the New Bedford, Mass., leather goods manufacturer.

The citations and fines address chemical, electrical and mechanical hazards identified during OSHA safety and health inspections that began March 15 in response to reports of possible hazards at the 89 West Rodney French Boulevard plant. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"Left uncorrected, the conditions cited at the plant expose employees to the hazards of lacerations, amputation, burns, electrocution, eye and face injuries, and to being caught in moving machine parts or struck by machinery," said Robert B. Hooper, OSHA's acting area director for southeastern Massachusetts.

OSHA's inspection found that the company had not determined what types of personal protective equipment were needed for employees whose duties exposed them to hazardous chemicals and flying particles from machinery, and had not supplied those employees with the required eye, face and hand protection.

Employees were not provided information and training on the hazardous chemicals with which they work and the company's hazard communication program lacked information and data sheets about those chemicals. The plant also lacked adequate safeguards, including machine-specific procedures, employee training, and periodic inspections to prevent the accidental startup of machinery during maintenance.

Finally, the inspection identified several instances of unguarded machinery, improperly used or guarded electrical wiring and equipment, and untrained pallet jack operators.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and fines to respond.