HEBRON, Ohio – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued 57 citations for safety violations to Sunfield Inc., an Ohio auto parts’ manufacturer. The agency has also proposed the company pay more than $3.42 million in total fines for its failure to disconnect machinery from a power supply and prevent sudden movement before maintenance and service, and to train workers in how to operate machine presses safely and to service and maintain them.
The fines assessed are one of the largest OSHA penalties ever filed against a company in the automotive parts industry.
Federal investigators inspected Sunfield’s Hebron plant after two workers suffered severe injuries in separate incidents in January and February 2016. The facility has an extensive history of federal safety violations dating back 20 years. The company, which investigators found to have a high rate of employee turnover, supplies parts for several major Japanese and domestic automakers.
OSHA issued citations for 46 egregious willful, two willful, one repeated and eight serious safety violations with penalties totaling $3,426,900 to Sunfield.
The agency also placed the company in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program for failure to address these safety hazards. Most of the violations involve lack of machine safety procedures which expose workers to amputation, lacerations and other injuries.
Prior to these inspections, Sunfield had an extensive history of OSHA violations. Since 1997, 16 of 20 inspections conducted found multiple violations. In total, the agency has issued 118 citations that have addressed numerous machine hazards similar to those cited today and resulted in 90 serious, eight willful and five repeated violations to the company, which has repeatedly assured OSHA that it would address the unsafe conditions.
OSHA found that the company did not take the necessary steps to protect its workers from being injured by moving machine parts. It did not prevent machines from unintentionally starting when workers were performing service and maintenance such as clearing scrap, and also failed to provide adequate safety mechanisms such as guards, locking devices and other procedures to prevent contact with those moving parts. These types of violations are among the most frequently cited by OSHA and often result in death or permanent disability.
The agency also found multiple electrical safety violations including lack of personal protective equipment, workers exposed to “live” electrical parts, and use of damaged equipment.