Auto Parts Maker Fined after Flash Fire

Thursday, April 7, 2016 @ 04:04 PM gHale

When an employer fails to address safety hazards, workers can suffer the consequences. One case in point occurred Sept. 23, when a 33-year-old maintenance technician was the victim of a Georgia auto parts manufacturer’s indifference toward safety.

The worker at Nakanishi Manufacturing Corp.’s Winterville, GA, facility was operating a dust collector when an explosion occurred. Flames engulfed the man, causing third-degree burns to his upper body. The employee continues to recover from his injuries.

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Headquartered in Osaka, Japan, Nakanishi Manufacturing Corp. employs 153 workers in the U.S. The company manufactures plastic and metal automotive bearing retainers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) opened an investigation after learning of the employee’s hospitalization. The agency fined the company $144,995 and issued citations to the manufacturer for one willful, 18 serious and one other-than-serious safety and health violation.

“Nakanishi Manufacturing had four previous fires in the dust collection system in Winterville and management knew that the combustible dust hazard was not corrected, yet they continued to let workers operate the system,” said William Fulcher, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East Area Office. “Out of sight, out of mind is not an acceptable strategy for fixing workplace hazards. This mindset is dangerous, irresponsible and must be changed immediately.”

The agency issued Nakanishi one willful citation for exposing workers to unguarded machinery.

The serious citations relate to the employer’s failure to:
• Evaluate the performance of powered industrial truck operators at least once every three years.
• Train and inspect workers on the specific procedures to prevent machinery from starting up during maintenance and servicing.
• Provide a workplace free from recognized hazards.
• Failure to train employees on the hazards of combustible dust.
• Conduct annual hearing test for workers exposed to high noise levels.
• Other violations include not reporting a workplace injury on the required OSHA 300 log.

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