ATLANTA (Aug. 5, 2010)—The U.S. Dept. of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Kirkhill Manufacturing Co.'s Athens, Ga., operation more than $125,000 for allegedly exposing workers to carbon black combustible dust and other safety and health hazards.
OSHA cited Kirkhill following a February inspection with one willful safety violation carrying a proposed penalty of $56,000 for failing to establish a lockout/tagout program for energy control procedures. A willful violation is defined “as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employees' safety and health,” OSHA said in an Aug. 2 release announcing the fines.
The company also was cited with 17 serious safety violations with proposed penalties of $46,550. Those citations accused Kirkhill of hazards related to a combustible dust transport system made of non-conductible polyvinyl chloride piping; poor housekeeping of carbon black combustible dust; unguarded walking and working surfaces; and several other violations.
OSHA said a separate health inspection accounted for eight serious violations with $23,100 in proposed penalties.
“Kirkhill Manufacturing exposed its workers to potential workplace hazards by not having a lockout/tagout program established and allowing carbon black dust to accumulate,” Kimberly Austin, acting area director for OSHA's Atlanta-East office, said in the release.
Downey, Calif.-based Kirkhill Manufacturing was started in 1996 when former employees of Kirkhill Inc. bought the rubber manufacturing equipment from Kirkhill Inc. The Athens plant was purchased in 2007 from Oliver Rubber Co. and is part of Kirkhill Manufacturing's custom mixing division. It has no ties to Kirkhill-TA Co., which is owned by Esterline Technologies Corp.
Kirkhill Manufacturing has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
A company spokesman said Aug. 5 the firm hadn't decided yet which path to follow. “We're trying to work with OSHA,” he said. “We want to try to fix it as quickly as possible.”