Hebron, Ohio – Sunfield, Inc., an Ohio auto parts manufacturer, is facing a potential multi-million dollar fine after two severe injuries occurred in separate incidents in January and February 2016. The fines assessed are one of the largest OSHA penalties ever filed against a company in the automotive parts industry. Fifty-seven manufacturing OSHA violations were issued in total. These included 46 egregious willful, two willful, one repeated, and eight serious violations – a total of $3,426,900 in potential fines. Sunfield was also placed under OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program due to its long history of OSHA non-compliance. Sixteen of 20 prior inspections conducted since 1997 by the agency found multiple violations.
OSHA performed the investigation after the following incidents occurred:
- January 6, 2016 – A 22-year-old temporary worker suffered multiple lacerations and a fractured right elbow while removing scrap from a blanking press after operating machine parts caught his arm. The machine was equipped with light curtains as a safety measure, but they were not operating correctly at the time of the incident. The OSHA investigation determined that a supervisor had identified the safety issue two hours prior to the incident, but failed to remove the machine from service. Read the entire citation listing here.
- February 18, 2016 – A full-time Sunfield employee was forced to have his right arm amputated above the elbow after his arm was crushed. He was removing scrap material from a robotic press line during the time. The resulting investigation found that there were insufficient safe guards to prevent employees from coming into contact with moving machine parts. Read the entire citation listing here.
Manufacturing OSHA Violations
The majority of the violations issued by the agency were issued because Sunfield did not provide sufficient machine safety guards and lockout/tagout devices, and did not prevent machines from unintentionally starting when maintenance or service was being performed. Unfortunately, these types of manufacturing OSHA violations are among the top ten cited OSHA violations every year. These safety hazards can often lead to serious injury or death. OSHA also found multiple electrical safety violations that exposed workers to live electrical parts, use of damaged equipment, and lack of personal protective equipment.
In addition to the citations issued to Sunfield, three temporary staffing agencies also received citations for failing to provide lockout/tagout training as well as mechanical power press safety training prior to sending temporary employees to the job site. OSHA regulations require that both host and temporary employers are responsible for adequately training workers about safety hazards in the facility they work in. Each of these three companies faces penalties of $7,000.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez had the following to say regarding the investigation:”When companies prioritize production and profit over the health and safety of their workforce, too often it is the workers that pay the price… OSHA’s investigation found the company’s leadership failed in its obligation to properly train workers for the jobs they were hired to do, and created a culture that routinely tolerated willful and serious safety violations.
The multi-million dollar fine issued to Sunfield Inc. shows that safety cannot be ignored. In the first incident, the safety violation had actually been identified two hours prior to the accident, but the supervisor failed to place the machine out of service. This should serve as a reminder that safety is equal parts observation and action. Without timely and strict enforcement of safety rules and procedures, the most comprehensive inspection program will do little to increase the safety of your workers and employees.
How Mobile Inspection Can Help:
With Mobile Inspection, you can help ensure that safety hazards are dealt with on a timely basis using our Corrective Actions Rules Engine (CARE). With CARE, failed inspection items can automatically trigger a follow up inspection or required corrective action and assigns it to a dedicated individual. These triggers are based on custom, user-defined rules. Once the follow up/corrective action inspection is complete, the inspector can update and document any fixes or findings in the system. This allows you to immediately recognize critical failure items, and ensure that any issues found on the initial inspection are carried through the full life cycle until it has been corrected/fixed and documented. Contact us today to learn more, or sign up for a free 30 day trial.