The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has levied 12 safety violations with $71,750 in proposed penalties against Modern Dispersions South Inc.’s Fitzgerald, Ga., manufacturing facility.

In June of this year, four of the company’s 130 employees were hospitalized after a fire occurred while employees attempted to unclog a machine of carbon black powder and polyethylene pellets.

OSHA inspectors issued one willful safety violation with a $49,000 proposed penalty for the company’s failure to use lockout/tagout control procedures when employees attempted to clear jammed machines. A willful violation is one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

“Management must put the safety of people first and ahead of its need to maintain production schedules,” said John J. Deifer, OSHA’s area director in
Savannah.

The company was also cited for 10 serious violations with $19,250 in proposed penalties and one other-than-serious violation with a proposed penalty of $3,500. The other-than-serious violation was for the employer’s failure to notify OSHA within eight hours of the in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to contest them and the proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA’s area office in
Savannah, 450 Mall Blvd., Suite J; telephone 912-652-4393.

OSHA operates a vigorous enforcement program, conducting more than 39,000 inspections in fiscal year 2007 and exceeding its inspection goals in each of the last eight years. In fiscal year 2007, OSHA found nearly 89,000 violations of its standards and regulations.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to assure the safety and health of America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.