FINDLAY, Ohio (Dec. 3, 2010)—The U.S Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s Findlay manufacturing plant with nine alleged safety and health violations totaling $206,500 in proposed penalties.
According to OSHA, Cooper failed to provide proper hazardous chemical protection to its workers, unnecessarily exposed them to fire and explosion hazards and did not provide fall protection from heights of greater than 9 feet.
“The lack of employee protection from fire, explosions and hazardous chemicals is completely unacceptable,” said Jule Hovi, OSHA's area director in Toledo, Ohio. “OSHA is committed to ensuring workers have a safe and healthful workplace, and failing to follow proper safety and health procedures puts workers at unnecessary risk.”
The company was cited with two alleged willful violations for failing to protect workers by not providing fire suppression controls on processing equipment that contains explosive combustible dust and for failing to limit the accumulation of combustible dust on equipment and the building superstructure, OSHA said. The violations carry proposed fines of $140,000.
Cooper was also cited with five serious violations, with proposed fines of $31,500, for failing to:
- Assure flammable liquids were safety dispensed;
- Ensure proper electrical tools were used in areas with flammable vapors and liquids;
- Provide proper eye and face protection for workers handling flammable liquids;
- Protect workers from electrical shock hazards; and
- Train workers on combustible dust hazards.
OSHA issued two repeat violations—with a proposed penalty of $35,000—for failing to provide workers with chemical protective equipment when exposed to contact with flammable liquids and to provide required fall protection. Repeat violations are issued when an employer has been cited for “the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.”
In a press release, Tom Carroll, Cooper's manager of global health, safety and security, said “the safety and well-being of our people is and always has been a top priority at Cooper.”
“Cooper Tire is deeply concerned about the safety of our employees, and while there is always room for improvement, we are proud of our overall safety performance and progress,” Carroll said. “We have a solid record of working cooperatively with agencies, our employees as well as our union safety committee in making sure that we address any potentially unsafe working conditions and actions in a proactive manner.”
Carroll said the company is “disappointed with the fines and the categorization of the violations in the notice” and will be reviewing each issue “one-by-one” with OSHA.
OSHA said Cooper has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and 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.