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OSHA cites Texas molding plant with 21 violations

By: Michael Lauzon

August 13, 2014

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Plastic Systems LLC for 21 safety and health violations at its El Paso, Texas, operation.

The violations, six of which are repeats, focus on lockout/tagout procedures to control unexpected startup of the facility’s injection molding presses. The allegations carry proposed penalties of $174,240, OSHA disclosed in an Aug. 7 news release.

“We do not agree with the findings,” stated Plastic Systems vice president of operations Rob Auger in a phone interview. “They are not legitimate.”

Auger said Plastic Systems officials will meet with OSHA in El Paso the week of Aug. 18 to challenge the allegations.

“Inspectors found workers at risk of potential injuries from preventable workplace hazards, including the unexpected startup of machinery during maintenance or servicing, the lack of machine guarding and electrical hazards,” noted OSHA area director Joann Figueroa in a news release.

The six repeat violations carry a penalty of $112,860. They include improper lockout procedures, lack of annual inspections, lack of working portable fire extinguishers and electrical hazards. These repeats relate to inspections in 2011. OSHA cites repeats when violations reappear from initial flagging within the previous five years.

Fifteen other violations in the 2014 inspection, 11 of which are serious, prompt a penalty of $61,380. They range from improper lockout control and machine guarding, maintaining electrical equipment, improperly recording injuries and making fire extinguishers easily accessible. Serious violations are cited when there is substantial potential for injury or death.

Plastic Systems injection molds decorative and functional interior auto parts. The private company is based in Romeo, Mich. It employs about 80 non-unionized workers in El Paso, well below its employment level of 238 when OSHA investigated El Paso in 2011. OSHA records show Plastic Systems agreed to pay $56,000 in penalties in 2011.

Plastics News estimates Plastic Systems had sales of about $26 million in 2013. The company used to run plants in Swartz Creek, Mich., and Kenton, Ohio, but closed them in June 2013.