Auto Parts Maker A Severe Safety Violator: OSHA

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 @ 03:12 PM gHale

For the third time since October 2013, Formed Fiber Technologies LLC is facing citations for putting workers at risk of amputation and other serious injury by exposing them to dangerous, moving machine parts, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The company, based in Auburn, ME, manufactures nonwoven fabrics and polyester staple fibers for the automotive industry. It employs 750 workers companywide, with 340 at the Sidney facility.

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The Sidney, OH, facility produces motor vehicle interior trimmings for Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors Co. and other manufacturers and ended up cited by OSHA in 2013 and twice in 2014. Earlier this year, OSHA place Formed Fiber in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program for its failure to address its safety violations.

“Formed Fiber Technologies has a culture that values production and profit over workers’ safety,” said Kim Nelson, OSHA’s area director in Toledo. “Employees have suffered puncture wounds, lacerations and other serious injuries because the company has failed to protect them from dangerous machines. OSHA is committed to doing all it can to force needed changes at Forced Fiber Technologies.”

OSHA issued two willful citations, with proposed penalties of $140,000, during a June 2014 inspection. The agency found that when workers changed molds on trim presses, they did not take steps to ensure the equipment would not unintentionally operate during the changing process. The company also failed to conduct audits of the procedures used to ensure employees did not work with live machinery. These types of violations are among the most frequently cited by OSHA and often result in death or permanent disability.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

OSHA cited Formed Fiber Technologies previously in October 2013 for 11 violations, many of which involved the same standards. The company entered into a settlement agreement that included terms involving the abatement of hazards and paying a $69,000 penalty. Formed Fiber Technologies then violated the agreement by providing false documentation and assurances they corrected hazards related to hydraulic presses, and ended up cited again in July 2014 in response. The company contested those violations and associated proposed penalties of $816,500.

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