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Paint Firm's Temp Hazards Fined $84K

Thursday, October 16, 2014

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"Deliberately disabled" safety devices and other hazards to unsupervised temporary workers have landed a Georgia  paint maker in trouble with federal regulators.

Plaid Enterprises Inc., of Decatur, has "entered into an agreement with" the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to resolve the six violations and $84,500 proposed fine, company spokesman Jon Bogle said in an email Wednesday (Oct. 15).

PlaidEnterprises
Plaid Enterprises Inc.

Founded in 1976, Plaid Enterprises is a leading global provider of craft paints and materials. Its brands include Apple Barrel paints as well as Martha Stewart Vintage Decor, FolkArt and Delta paints.

The citiations follow an April inspection that was prompted by a complaint. Plaid Enterprises employs approximately 279 workers at the Decatur facility, which manufactures, bottles and packages hobby and craft paints

'Clearly Knew'

One willful citation—OSHA's highest level of infraction—accuses Plaid of exposing workers to amputation hazards and being caught in machinery with safety locking devices that had been bypassed or deliberately disabled.

Willful violations are those committed "with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health," according to OSHA.

"This employer clearly knew safety measures were bypassed and allowed its workers to be exposed to hazards that could cause severe injuries and fatalities," said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office.

"Production demands cannot be an excuse to allow either permanent or temporary workers to be exposed to these types of hazards."

Other Violations

Three serious citations allege:

PlaidEnterprises
Plaid Enterprises

OSHA accused the craft-paint maker of disabling or bypassing safety features on equipment at its plant.

  • Failure to develop and implement written instructions for disabling power from equipment before maintenance and service;
  • Allowing the use of forklifts with "nonoperational" safety equipment; and
  • Exposed electrical connections and unguarded wiring.

Two additional violations allege using space around electrical panels for storage and exposing workers to unguarded rotating shafts.

The workers in question were all temporary labor provided by Prologistix. The staffing company did not supervise the workers at Plaid, did not know about the working conditions there, and was not cited, OSHA said.

'Excellent Safety Record'

Bogle said that Plaid's pending agreement with OSHA "does not include any admission of any of the allegations contained in the citations."

He added: "Plaid is firmly committed to workplace safety, and we look forward to maintaining our excellent safety record in the future."

Hardhats
OSHA

OSHA is reporting a growing number of deaths and serious injuries among temporary workers in their first days on a job.

Plaid's record with OSHA was unavailable Wednesday; the agency's web site was down.

Protecting Temporary Workers

Frequently untrained and unfamiliar with their co-workers and surroundings, temporary workers are highly vulnerable to serious injury and illness.

In recent months, OSHA has received and investigated many reports of temporary workers suffering serious or fatal injuries, some in their first days on the job.

Following these investigations, OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued "Recommended Practices" for ensuring that temporary workers received the same training and protection that existing workers received.

In addition, OSHA rolled out an initiative in April 2013 to improve workplace safety and health for temporary workers.

   

Tagged categories: Coatings manufacturers; Decorative painting; Enforcement; Health & Safety; Health and safety; North America; OSHA; Worker training

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