The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $219,800 in penalties against Tires Into Recycled Energy & Supplies Inc. of Jackson, Ga., for willful, serious and other violations of federal workplace safety standards.

OSHA opened an investigation following an employee fatality in May when combustible dust from material caught fire during the manufacturing process. The plant was being operated temporarily at the time until the equipment could be sold to another company. Part of the plant's labor force consisted of employees hired through the Georgia Department of Corrections probationers' diversion program.

"This employer demonstrated total disregard for employees' safety by using employees who lacked the proper training for their jobs," said Gei Thae Breezley, director of OSHA's Atlanta East Area Office.

The agency issued four willful violations with penalties of $196,000 for failing to reduce accumulations of combustible dust on equipment and in the facility, not developing a written emergency evacuation plan, not training employees on firefighting procedures for combustible dust and not developing a lockout/tagout program, which is intended to prevent inadvertent machine start-ups.

OSHA also issued five serious violations with penalties of $14,700 for a lack of fall protection on equipment, lack of handrails on stairs, not providing formal training for forklift truck operators, not operating proper electrical equipment and not developing a hazard communication program.

Three other-than-serious violations carrying a penalty of $9,100 were issued for recordkeeping violations.

The company has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.