OSHA Cites Miss. Agency for Safety Violations

June 9, 2005

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Hood Industries Inc. for exposing workers to numerous health and safety hazards at its Wiggins, Miss., plywood mill. The agency proposed $150,500 in penalties following an investigation of a fatality at the mill.

On Dec. 8, 2004, a company employee was working at a mill boiler fuel station using a steel pole to ensure wood chips and sawdust flowed into the boiler’s burner. The pole was also routinely used to put a feed chain back when it slipped off an overhead roller. OSHA found that, while attempting to re-position this chain, the worker, standing in a space less than five feet wide, leaned against a wall and fell backward through an unguarded opening to a concrete slab 14 feet below.

“OSHA conducted a comprehensive inspection after the accident investigator observed employees being exposed to safety and health hazards throughout the mill,” said Clyde Payne, OSHA’s Jackson area director.

The company received one serious citation directly related to the fatality, with a proposed penalty of $7,000, for failing to protect workers from falling through unguarded wall openings.

Additional citations and proposed penalties included: failing to protect workers from fall hazards in other mill and railcar loading areas — $21,000; exposing workers to amputation hazards from unguarded equipment — $28,500; exposing employees to electrocution from defective electrical equipment — $30,000; inadequate confined space program — $20,000; inadequate “lockout-tagout” program to render machinery inoperable during maintenance and repair — $10,000; and blocked exits, passageways or access to equipment rooms — $6,000.

Defective equipment; improper storage of hazardous chemicals and equipment; failure to conduct required inspections of equipment; lack of proper labeling, emergency eye wash-shower stations and required safety and health programs carried proposed penalties totaling $28,000.

The Hattiesburg-based company has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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