Parker Hannifin Corp., the world’s largest manufacturer of motion and control technologies, faces 33 federal health and safety citations and $487,700 in fines for conditions at its plant in Batesville, MS.
The case marks the 42nd time since 2006 that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited one of Parker Hannifin’s 170 U.S. facilities, and many of the citations reflect repeat violations.
The Cleveland-based company has settled 38 OSHA cases involving plants in 20 states since 2006—most for fines of less than $5,000, many for less than $1,000.
It currently has three other cases pending with OSHA—two three-count cases from 2010 and one 13-count citation from 2007—involving plants in three different states.
Nearly half of the new citations are repeat violations for conditions that Parker Hannifin “ignored” after being cited for similar problems at other plants, Dr. David Michaels, OSHA Administrator, said in a statement. The citations follow a November 2010 inspection, the plant’s first inspection since 1983.
Parker Hannifin is listed in OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program, which targets employers “who have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations.”
“Parker Hannifin takes its commitment to the health and safety of our employees very seriously,” Aidan Gormley, director of corporate communications, said in an emailed statement Wednesday.
“We have cooperated fully with OSHA in their inspection of our facility in Batesville, MS, and have taken swift corrective actions to address the citations. In fact, many of these citations were addressed the same day the inspection took place.
“Corrective actions have also been addressed at the other Parker locations referenced in OSHA’s press release.
“We do plan to contest some of the citations.”
The Batesville plant manufactures tube and hose assemblies, and dryers and accumulators for large vehicle air conditioning systems. The plant received 16 repeat citations that total $407,000 in fines. The allegations include:
Failing to attach hazardous warning labels to five dipping tanks that contained potassium hydroxide (also called caustic potash), a toxic and highly corrosive chemical used as a paint remover; isoparaffinic hydrocarbon, used in paint formulations, floor cleaners and lighter fluid; and other hazardous substances.
Allowing the air pressure in cleaning equipment to exceed more than 30 pounds per square inch;
Failing to periodically inspect the lockout/tagout process to prevent accidental energy start-up;
Failing to train workers on lockout/tagout procedures;
Blocking exit doors and routes; and
Failing to provide machine guarding and to correct electrical deficiencies.
The repeat violations are based on similar citations issued within the last five years at other company facilities, including one in Olive Branch, MS, OSHA said.
OSHA also issued 17 serious citations with $80,700 in fines in the Batesville case. Those allegations include:
Failure to provide personal protective equipment;
Failure to establish a hearing program;
Failure to require workers to wear eye protection;
Exposing employees to struck-by hazards due to a defective safety latch on a hoist and damaged hooks on an overhead crane;
Allowing the use of unapproved electrical equipment in a hazardous location where flammable chemicals were present;
Failing to remove and replace spiral stairs with a conventional stairways;
Failing to post signage directing occupants to the nearest exit;
Failing to provide a “danger permit-required confined space” sign; and
Failing to mark a web sling with the rated load capacity.
Serious violations reflect a “substantial probability” of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
“Companies that cut corners at the expense of worker safety must be held accountable,” said Michaels. “In this case, Parker Hannifin not only failed to make safety its top priority, but the company ignored many violations that OSHA previously had brought to its attention.”
Parker Hannifin has 15 business days to comply with or contest the citations.
Record Performance Announced
Parker Hannifin engineers and manufacturers dozens of product lines—hoses, gauges, additives, fittings, adhesives, sealants and much more—for 82 business divisions serving the marine, infrastructure, industrial, aerospace, commercial and mobile markets.
With about 40 brands from A (Acroloop) to Z (Zander), the company’s products are used in virtually every industrial process that moves or requires control, including the manufacture and processing of raw materials, durable goods, infrastructure development and all forms of transport.
Parker Hannifin reported $10 billion in sales for fiscal year 2010 and record quarterly sales, income and earnings for its third quarter of FY 2011, which ended March 31.