Multiple Butler County businesses receive hefty fines for workplace violations

Schneider Electric in Oxford faces $119,757 in proposed penalties for “serious violations of health and safety standards,” according to OSHA. The violations are being appealed by the company. FILE
Schneider Electric in Oxford faces $119,757 in proposed penalties for “serious violations of health and safety standards,” according to OSHA. The violations are being appealed by the company. FILE

Credit: Greg Lynch

Credit: Greg Lynch

An Oxford business became the latest to receive a six-figure fine from the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration with a ruling last week.

And it’s the second Butler County business to receive such a fine in the past four months. Schneider Electric, of Oxford, and Koch Foods, of Fairfield, are both contesting those alleged violations.

In January, a complaint was filed with OSHA against Schneider Electric’s Oxford facility, and the federal agency found several alleged violations.

“OSHA has specific regulations for implementing required training and safety procedures to protect workers who must enter confined spaces, including atmospheric testing and ensuring equipment and energy sources are disabled before workers enter these spaces,” said OSHA Area Director Ken Montgomery.

Without proper safety measures taken, gases and or vapors in a confined space may overcome a worker or a lack of oxygen may suffocate them, according to OSHA. From 2011-18, there were 1,030 confined space-related workers deaths, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Schneider Electric, which manufactures large busways used for power distribution, faces $119,757 in proposed penalties for “serious violations of health and safety standards,” according to OSHA.

“We are engaged with OSHA as part of their review at this time,” according to company spokesperson Venancio Figueroa III. “At Schneider Electric, we take matters related to our employees’ safety seriously and we follow stringent policies and procedures to keep them safe. As a matter of course we continuously evaluate our safety programs and performance in all of our sites to ensure a safe work environment for employees.”

OSHA also found the company:

  • Failed to isolate natural gas lines and mechanical energy to the ovens during maintenance procedures;
  • Did not have an adequate respiratory protection program for employees required to wear respirators when working with the dust collectors;
  • Failed to train employees on the hazards of the powder coat used on the products;
  • Allowed epoxy powder coat to accumulate on surfaces exposing workers to methyl imidazole, a potential skin, eye and lung irritant;
  • Exposed employees working on top of the ovens to fall hazards of up to 20 feet, by failing to provide fall protection; and
  • Lacked employee training on safety and health hazards in the facility and required safety procedures.

Massachusetts-based Schneider Electric employs 150,000 people nationwide, and 250 at its Oxford facility.

Over the past six months, OSHA has levied 47 fines of at least a $40,000 against Ohio companies. Schneider Electric is one of 12 companies to receive a six-figure fine.

Koch Foods of Cincinnati, based in Fairfield, was fined more than $236,000 on Nov. 2, and the company has appealed the citations of two serious and two repeat violations.

An investigation was opened on May 19, 2020, for violations involving the control of hazardous energy and training employees on procedures, according to OSHA.

According to the citation, an employee on May 14, 2020, had a hand caught in a machine while trying to dislodge a jammed bag. The employee’s hand was caught in the machine, according to the citation.

Koch Foods allegedly did not certify the periodic inspection had been conducted for energy control procedures for equipment of the bagging machine, according to the citations. Also, the company allegedly did not provide training for all authorized employees, nor did it establish machine-specific procedures.

Koch Foods was previously cited in January 2016 pertaining to the control of hazardous energy.

SIX-FIGURE OSHA FINES

Over the past six months, OSHA has levied 47 fines of at least $40,000 or larger against Ohio companies. Listed are the six-figure fines Ohio companies have received from OSHA over the past six months.

  • Schneider Electric, of Oxford, on March 15 for fines totaling $119,757
  • ILS Construction, of Canton, on Feb. 25, for fines totaling $117,572
  • BEF Foods, Inc., of Lima, on Feb. 25, for fines totaling $136,532
  • Boak & Sons, Inc., of Youngstown, on Jan. 27, for fines totaling $218,197
  • Installed Building Products, of Mentor, on Jan. 15, for fines totaling $148,440
  • Catts Construction, Inc., of Maple Heights on Dec. 30 for fines totaling $103,056
  • A&B Foundry, Machining and Fabrications and AKA VSCORP, LLC AKA and A&B Foundry LLC, of Tipp City, on Dec. 28, for fine totaling $224,133
  • Associated Hygienic Products, LLC, of Delaware, on Dec. 9, for fines totaling $159,037
  • Bob Sumerel Tire Company, Inc., of Wooster, on Dec. 3, for fines totaling $175,422
  • Fabcon Precast, LLC, of Grove City, on Dec. 2, for fines totaling $451,079
  • Mike Krueger dba Altogether Roofing, of Monclova, on Nov. 10, for fines totaling $237,490.00
  • Koch Foods of Cincinnati, Inc, of Fairfield, on Nov. 2, for fines totaling $236,142.00

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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