OSHA: Georgia Auto Manufacturer Exposed Auto Workers to Risk of Serious Injury, Death
Some auto industry workers in Georgia face serious safety hazards in the workplace that place them at risk of workplace injury, as a recent federal work safety investigation shows.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited HP Pelzer Automotive Systems Inc. of Thomson, as well as staffing agency Sizemore Inc., for 22 safety and health violations. HP Pelzer Automotive Systems manufactures molded automotive trim components including outer dashes, hoodliners, package trays and trunk parts for major car manufacturers. OSHA began inspections at the Thomson facility last year after it received complaints alleging that workers faced the risk of amputations and lacerations in the course of their daily work.
OSHA recently proposed penalties for Pelzer of more than $201,000 for the serious safety violations including three repeat violations associated with previous inspections in 2008 and 2009. In a news release, the agency said HP Pelzer continued to put workers at risk of serious injury or death by failing to correct unguarded equipment and other safety hazards at the Thomson plant. The plant employs 256 workers, including 176 temporary workers.
According to OSHA, the automotive company:
- Failed to prevent workers from using compressed air for cleaning without the means to regulate the pressure.
- Allowed workers to be exposed to the possibility of thermal skin burns from hot pipes.
- Lacked appropriate lockout/tag-out procedures
- Failed to make sure exit routes at the facility were unblocked.
OSHA also said that Sizemore Inc., a staffing agency with an administrative office at the manufacturing facility, needs to ensure that its temporary workers receive health and safety training. OSHA cited Sizemore with one serious health citation with a proposed penalty of $6,000 for not providing temporary workers with training regarding formaldehyde and its hazards.
Close proximity to machinery or equipment could place auto manufacturing workers at risk of amputations and lacerations if their clothing or limbs get caught in machinery. Additionally, workers are at risk of repetitive stress injury from performing the same activities over and over again without a break, as well as sprains, strains and fractures.
OSHA recently announced a workplace safety and health initiative targeting temp workers. In the news release regarding the Georgia plant, the agency said it intends to be tough on staffing agencies that place workers in jobs but fail to prioritize their safety.
Employers everywhere have a responsibility to ensure their workplaces are free of hazards that are likely to cause death or serious injuries to workers. Workers who are injured the job in Georgia may be eligible for workers’ compensation and disability benefits.