QUINTER, KAN. (Nov. 1, 2:30 p.m. ET) — Custom thermoformer Formation Plastics Inc. is facing $217,000 in fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration stemming from an investigation after a death at the plant in May. The company's general manager is warning that the fine could put the company out of business.
“We've had no dealings with OSHA before and that's what's surprised us,” said Brad Lovelady, general manager of Formation Plastics, in an Oct. 28 telephone interview.
“The company has been in business for 20 years and we've actually asked the state of Kansas [in the past] to come in and inspect us. We don't understand,” he added.
Lovelady said the Quinter, Kan.-based company is in the process of finding an attorney to appeal the decision.
The fatality occurred when a foreman allegedly climbed into a forming machine that had stopped.
OSHA cited Formation Plastics with one serious and three willful safety and health violations, according to a news release.
The company faces $217,000 in proposed fines and has 15 days from the receipt of the citation to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before an independent OSHA review commission.
The willful violations total $210,000 in fines for failing to develop and utilize energy control procedures, failing to train workers in energy control and exposing workers to moving equipment parts. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or with plan indifference to worker safety and health.
The serious violation carries a $7,000 fine. It was for failing to provide a point of operation guarding on a punch press.
Lovelady said that two of the willful violations were actually for failure to provide the proper paperwork.
“People were trained but not documented,” he said.
Lovelady said the company does not know why the worker climbed into the machine. The machine in question was used infrequently, he said.
Lovelady said the accident was a terrible tragedy. The plant shut down for the worker's funeral and grief counselors were brought in to help coworkers cope.
Now the fines place the company's 22 employees in another difficult situation.
“If we cannot negotiate, we will have to close. It will just devastate us,” Lovelady said.