A Miami-area manufacturer faces penalties of more than $166,270 for safety violations federal inspectors found while investigating a workplace incident that mutilated a new employee’s hand.
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Southern Fiber Inc. “knew the dangers that workers faced, yet it made no attempt to correct identified safety hazards.” Because of the company’s neglect, OSHA said, “a 30-year-old employee, who had been on the job for three days, suffered a horrific and preventable injury.”
Southern Fiber manufactures and distributes polyester products, including bedspreads, mattresses, and outdoor patio furniture. It has facilities in Miami Gardens, Orlando, Charlotte, Seattle, and Los Angeles.
An investigation of incident at the Miami Gardens plant determined that the hand injury resulted when the worker had been trying to clear mattress foam that had jammed a piece of heavy machinery used to process materials when the machine started unexpectedly. The live machine stripped all of the skin from the worker’s hand up to the wrist, OSHA said.
“Southern Fiber knew the dangers that workers faced, yet it made no attempt to correct identified safety hazards,” said Condell Eastmond, director of OSHA’s Fort Lauderdale Area Office. “A 30-year-old employee, who had been on the job for three days, suffered a horrific and preventable injury. Management has failed its obligation to protect workers.”
OSHA cited Southern Fiber with a willful violation for its failure to establish safety procedures to prevent accidental machine start-ups from occurring during maintenance and servicing.
The agency also issued three repeat citations for failing to provide protective guards on equipment to prevent workers from being hit by or caught between moving machine parts; neglecting to properly train workers in safety procedures; and allowing workers to operate forklifts without training. OSHA had already cited Southern Fiber for these violations last year.
The company was also cited for other serious violations involving its failure to report the hospitalization of an injured employee. Under revised record-keeping rules, companies are required to notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within eight hours, and of work-related inpatient hospitalizations, amputations, or eye loss within 24 hours.
Total proposed fines for the penalties total $116,270. OSHA said that it has inspected Southern Fiber 12 times since 2010 and that those inspections have resulted in 39 citations for safety violations. Because the company continually fails to company with federal safety code, it has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which requires it to take specific measures to address safety problems and places it under routine surveillance.