OSHA Cites Mass. Textile Mill for Safety Hazards

Safety and health hazards at a Lawrence, Mass., textile mill have resulted in $66,375 in proposed penalties from the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Malden Mills was cited for 14 alleged violations of workplace safety and health standards following an OSHA inspection that began Jan. 31 in response to an employee complaint.

Fire hazards reportedly included fire doors purposely fixed in an open position so they could not automatically shut in the event of a fire; misidentified doorways that could delay exiting from a fire; flammable materials stored near emergency exits; unsafe welding operations, and improper storage of oxygen and acetylene cylinders. Crushing hazards included failing to post load ratings in a storage building to ensure storage areas were not overloaded and employees exposed to being struck by trucks while working on a loading dock.

Some employees faced possible illness from working in or near bird feces while servicing equipment; others faced tripping hazards from materials stored in work areas. Employees who worked with corrosive chemicals lacked proper protective equipment and a working eyewash. In addition, workers had no way to shut off the power source of overhead cranes from the shop floor. Electrical hazards included an exposed live electrical source, electrical outlets unsuitable for a wet or damp location and an extension cord used to power textile machinery.

These violations accounted for 13 serious citations and proposed penalties of $21,375. A serious violation is a condition where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee.

The company also received one willful citation, with a $45,000 proposed penalty, for allowing employees to do live electrical work without safe work procedures and personal protective equipment. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

Malden Mills has 15 working days from receipt of its citations to comply with them, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest them before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.