Furniture Maker Faces Fines for Fatality

Thursday, March 5, 2015 @ 05:03 PM gHale


H.M. Richards Inc. is facing $55,100 in fines after a maintenance worker ended up fatally electrocuted on Oct. 1 as he disconnected wiring on a saw at the company’s temporary facility in Guntown, MS, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA investigators who responded to the scene after Raymond Marvin Reece, 46, died, found the furniture upholstery manufacturer violated nine safety standards, of which one could have prevented the tragedy. Founded in 1997, H.M. Richards employs 900 workers at its Guntown facility.

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Among the violations was H.M. Richards’ failure to provide electrical safety training to Reece, as required. If they had, Reece would have known the equipment he worked with was still “live” and contained enough electricity to kill him.

“Regrettably, a spouse and two children are left without a husband, father and the support he provided to make ends meet because H.M. Richards failed to train or qualify Mr. Reece in the duties he was assigned according to OSHA standards,” said Eugene Stewart, OSHA’s area director in Jackson.

OSHA issued a citation for not marking circuit breakers to indicate what they control in the circuit-breaker box. A repeated violation exists when an employer previously faced citations for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The agency cited H.M. Richards in May 2011 for this same violation.

Inspectors also found seven serious violations, including failing to ensure that employees ended up trained and qualified to perform electrical work; exposing workers to amputations and struck-by hazards by operating dangerous machines without protection; not ensuring the electrical disconnect switch could not be turned back on before performing work; and exposing employees to electrical shock and burns due to unmarked ground conductors. Another violation was for allowing damaged wiring on a fan.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.



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