Huge Fines for Auto Parts Maker, Temp Firm

Friday, September 16, 2016 @ 12:09 PM gHale

Permanent and temporary employees in the auto parts industry face common workplace dangers such as falls, amputations and electrocution hazards, which is what Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors found at a Thomson, GA, manufacturer of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Fiat-Chrysler, Subaru and General Motors parts.

Acting on a complaint and as part of the agency’s Regional Emphasis Program on Safety Hazards in the Auto Parts Industry, OSHA initiated another, new inspection at HP Pelzer Automotive Systems Inc. in March and cited the company and a staffing agency it employs with 24 safety violations.

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HP Pelzer employs 10,000 workers across nine facilities in the U.S. and Mexico. The Thomson facility manufacturers car panels, dashboards and insulation products.

Sizemore Inc., the staffing agency, had approximately 300 temporary employees assigned to HP Pelzer at the time of the inspection. In May, the Augusta, GA-based agency terminated its contract for reasons including safety concerns for its employees.

HP Pelzer and Sizemore face $704,610 in penalties.

“Employers must ensure they provide safe and healthy working conditions — at all times — and not just during or immediately following an OSHA onsite inspection,” said William Fulcher, OSHA’s area director in the Atlanta-East Office. “This is the third inspection of the HP Pelzer plant where OSHA has identified numerous hazards, many repeated, related to unsafe working conditions. Employees, whether permanent or temporary, should not have to be concerned whether they will get sick, injured or killed while providing for their families. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe and healthful workplace.”

OSHA issued 12 repeated citations to HP Pelzer for its failure to:
• Develop, implement and utilize written procedures to prevent machinery from starting-up during maintenance or servicing
• Conduct periodic inspections of the energy control procedures at least annually
• Train employees performing work on hazardous energy sources
• Protect employees from thermal skin burns due to contact with hot metallic surfaces
• Ensure the repair or replacement of electrical equipment for safe operational condition
• Protect workers from laceration and amputation hazards due to unguarded machine parts

The agency also cited HP Pelzer for eight serious violations for exposing workers to fall hazards, not providing electrical protective equipment and failing to train workers about electrical hazards related to their activities.

OSHA issued four serious citations to Sizemore for exposing workers to fall hazards, not providing training on hazardous energy sources, exposing employees to amputation, laceration and electrical live parts.

HP Pelzer Automotive Systems meets the listed criteria for inclusion in OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program, which focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations, OSHA officials said. Under the program, the agency may inspect any of the employer’s facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.

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