Thomson automotive manufacturer cited for safety, health violations

THOMSON, GA (WFXG) - A Thomson company and an Augusta-based staffing agency are facing more than $200,000 in penalties for safety and health violations, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor.

HP Pelzer Automotive Systems Inc. of Thomson and staffing agency Sizemore Inc. were cited for 22 safety and health violations by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to the release.

OSHA initiated its inspection in July 2013 in response to a complaint alleging hazards at the automotive manufacturing facility. Proposed penalties total $207,100.

HP Pelzer, a supplier of automotive parts for major car manufacturers, employs approximately 10,000 workers across nine facilities in the U.S. and Mexico. The Thomson facility, which produces parts, such as outer dashes and hood liners, employs 256 workers, 176 of which are temporary. Sizemore is the temporary staffing agency under contract with HP Pelzer.

"HP Pelzer continues to put workers at risk of serious injury or death by failing to correct unguarded equipment and other serious hazards," said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. "Additionally, Sizemore must work proactively with its client to ensure temporary workers receive appropriate safety and health training."

OSHA cited HP Pelzer for 11 serious safety and health violations, carrying $80,100 in penalties. The inspection found that the employer failed to prevent compressed air from being used for cleaning without a means to regulate the pressure, according to the release. OSHA also said workers were exposed to potential thermal skin burns from unprotected hot pipes and fittings.

Other violations include failing to develop and implement written lockout/tagout procedures for machinery repair, failing to ensure unblocked exit routes and failing to develop and implement a hazard communication program for those exposed to formaldehyde.

OSHA cited HP Pelzer for three repeat violations, carrying penalties of $121,000, which were associated with previous inspections in 2008 and 2009. Multiple citations for similar hazards were previously issued at other HP Pelzer facilities. Workers were again exposed to amputation and laceration hazards stemming from a lack of guarding on machine parts.

The contract with Sizemore, which maintains an administrative office at the facility, specifies that the staffing agency will provide workers with some of the training before their assignment. As a result, the staffing agency was issued one serious health citation, with $6,000 in penalties, for not providing temporary workers with training regarding formaldehyde and its hazards.

Both companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.

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