The nation's largest home decor retailer has been fined once again. This year alone, its penalties for health and safety violations now totals more than $2.25 million. Following Ashley Furniture's third failed health and safety inspection of 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued the company one willful, five repeated and two serious citations and penalties of $431,000.
OSHA found Ashley Furniture failed to protect its workers from dangerous, moving machine parts and neglected to implement procedures that would prevent machines from starting unintentionally when operators changed blades, cleaned machines and cleared jams. The company also failed to have machine operators use locking devices to prevent unexpected machine movement, a procedure known as lockout or tagout. This violation is among OSHA's most frequently cited and often results in death or permanent disability.
"Workers risked amputation injuries each time they serviced the machinery," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire, Wis. "Ashley Furniture failed to implement required safety procedures to protect machine operators until after OSHA opened its inspection. The company must make immediate, enforceable safety improvements at its facilities nationwide."
This January, the agency cited Ashley Furniture for 38 safety violations, resulting in more than $1.75 million in penalties, after an inspection of its Arcadia, Wis. plant. The investigation found workers experienced more than 1,000 OSHA recordable work-related injuries in the previous three and a half years. OSHA defines a recordable injury as one that requires medical treatment beyond first aid, or results in death, lost work hours, restricted work or a job transfer.
Just five months later, OSHA proposed penalties of $83,200 and placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) after investigating an Ashley Furniture employee amputation that took place in March. As a result of the SVEP designation, Ashley's facilities in California, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and North Carolina are all currently under investigation.
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