OSHA Investigating New Accident at Nichiha Plant

1:36 PM, Nov 25, 2009   |    comments
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       A federal agency plans to fine a Macon plant more than $128,000  after a fatal accident and its problems may not be over.

       A spokesman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration today says they're looking into another accident at the Nichiha plant last week that injured two people.

       Michael Wald says that latest accident may be related to previous problems that Nichiha failed to fix. He had no further details on the accident and referred questions to Nichiha officials, who did not return phone calls from 13WMAZ.

   The federal agency says Nichiha endangered its workers and took more than a year  to fix its problems after a fatal accident.

   The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says they plan to fine the plant more than $128,000.

   In April 2008, a Macon man died after he was caught in a machine in the plant on Avondale Mill Road.

  Inspecting the plant after he died, federal inspectors say they found nearly a dozen serious safety violations last year.

   OSHA spokesman Mike Wald says the company promised to fix them. But a year later, he says, a second inspection found they hadn't.

   Nichiha has 15 days to appeal the fines.

   About 100 people work at the plant.

 OSHA gave this description of the violations:

 

"After inspecting the plant in May and June, OSHA issued citations against the fiber cement manufacturer for 11 repeat safety and health, 11 serious and five other-than-serious violations.

 

"Alleged repeat violations from the 2008 inspection include the employer's failure to cover or install guardrails around slurry pits, lack of guards around an exposed chain and no specific energy control procedures for equipment that had more than one energy source. Employees did not receive adequate training when using corrosive and hazardous chemicals, and the company did not identify, evaluate or provide adequate training for employees working in confined spaces. Emergency eyewashes were not available to employees who worked around corrosive chemicals. The proposed repeat penalty totals $97,760.

"Alleged serious violations with proposed penalties of $29,200 include hazards associated with falls, lockout/tagout of energy source, improper storage of compressed gas cylinders, electrical dangers, hazards related to confined spaces and the lack of a bloodborne pathogens program for workers responding to emergencies.

"Management allegedly committed recordkeeping violations and failed to ensure that workers inspect their full-face respirator for damage, resulting in five other-than-serious violations with penalties totaling $1,600."

In related news, there was an accident last Wednesday at Nichiha, where two people were injured, according to Michael Wald with the Department of Labor.

 

Wald says OSHA is investigating the accident, which they say is related to hazards the company is already being fined for.

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