Personal Injury

Georgia company repeatedly exposed workers to falls and other hazards

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined a Georgia aluminum company nearly $126,000 for a series of willful, repeat, and serious violations that seriously threaten the safety of its workers. OSHA investigators cited Aluminum Finishing LLC of Adel, Georgia for 18 violations related to a lack of fall protections, dangers posed by corroded and weakened components of the facility’s structure, and a number of other hazards. Aluminum Finishing anodizes aluminum products, which typically involves dipping items in large tanks full of industrial coatings.

The most serious violation OSHA inspectors found involved a lack of fall protections. Aluminum Finishing required its workers to walk on top of a steel beam without protection, exposing them to the risk of injury and death. According to OSHA, falls are one of the leading causes of worker fatalities in the U.S. Each year, on average, between 150 and 200 workers are killed and more than 100,000 are injured as a result of falls at construction sites alone. The number of workers killed in falling incidents in all job-related environments was nearly 600 in 2009, according to the Bureau of labor Statistics.

OSHA said that it began its inspection of Aluminum Finishing in October 2010 in response to a complaint it received about the dangerous working conditions at the plant and as a follow-up to a safety inspection the agency carried out in April 2010. Inspectors found that the company did not correct many of the safety violations for which it was cited in April and an earlier inspection in October 2008.

Repeat violations included failure to have workers use fall protection while working above dip tanks; inoperable emergency lighting; a lack of guards against live electrical equipment; and failure to cover open troughs for safety and health purposes.

Aluminum Finishing also accrued nearly $30,000 in fines related to serious violations, including allowing employees to work near a dip tank without the proper eye or face protection; exposing workers to shock, electrocution, and burn injuries; not properly adjusting the work rest on the floor grinder; and having an emergency eye wash unit with inadequate water pressure. The inspection also revealed that workers were exposed to striking hazards from corroded ceiling objects, including sprinkler system pipes, metal wall sheathing, and light fixtures.

“This company has disregarded the safety of its employees and repeatedly allowed them to be exposed to struck-by hazards from structural failure, electrocution hazards and falls,” said Robert Vazzi, OSHA’s area director in Savannah. “Immediate action needs to be taken to protect employees from these workplace hazards.”