Manufacturer Faces Machine Safety Fines

Friday, December 2, 2011 @ 04:12 PM gHale

Briggs & Stratton Power Products Group LLC is facing $125,000 in fines for repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards at its Munnsville manufacturing plant, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials said.

The lawnmower manufacturer faces the penalties for mechanical, electrical and fall hazards identified during a June inspection by OSHA’s Syracuse Area Office.

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“The sizable fines proposed in this case reflect both the gravity of these hazards and the fact that several are substantially similar to conditions cited in an earlier OSHA inspection,” said Christopher Adams, OSHA’s area director for central New York. “It’s imperative that this employer not only corrects these latest hazards but also takes effective steps to ensure that they are corrected once and for all.”

OSHA found several recurring hazards similar to those cited during a 2007 inspection of the same location, including unguarded rotating parts and points of operation on machinery, open-sided floors lacking railings or guarding to prevent falls and a lack of electrical grounding. These conditions resulted in citations for five repeat violations, with $95,000 in proposed fines. A repeat violation exists when OSHA cited an employer previously for the same or a similar violation.

In addition, the June inspection identified electrical and machine guarding hazards, inadequate training to ensure machines de-energize and their power sources lock out to prevent unintended startup during maintenance, defects with lifting chains and slings, unguarded floor holes, and uninspected overhead hoists and hook devices. These conditions resulted in citations for eight serious violations, with $30,000 in fines. 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.

“An important means of preventing initial and recurring workplace hazards is for employers to implement effective illness and injury prevention programs in which they work with their employees to identify and eliminate hazards,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York.

Briggs & Stratton Power Products Group is a subsidiary of Wauwatosa, WI-based Briggs & Stratton Corp.