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Wisconsin pallet company faces fines for unsafe working conditions

A Wisconsin pallet maker is facing almost $200,000 in fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after being accused of numerous violations of safety and health regulations. Such hazards could increase the possibility of a work accident and endanger employees that work for the company. This is not the first time the company has faced OSHA fines.

In six years, the pallet company has tallied over 50 OSHA violations. The most recent fines come from a follow-up inspection conducted back in April. The company is accused of various counts of willful and repeat alleged violations. Some of the willful violations involve no machine guarding on several of their woodworking machinery and also open-sided floors with no guarding that could increase the chances of a work accident. The platforms left unguarded represent a fall hazard for employees using them.

The repeat health violations include several instances which could endanger worker safety. The company is accused of allowing unsanitary conditions in the workplace involving the accumulation of sawdust, which could cause fire or explosions along with failing to develop and implement a hazard communication program to train workers who may be exposed to certain fuels in the workplace and wood dust. They have also allegedly failed to implement a hearing conservation program that would help workers who may be exposed to high noise levels exceeding 85 decibels.

In 2011, the pallet maker tried to contest the violations against them, but they were unsuccessful. They were also cited in 2006 and 2007. OSHA has stated the company has failed to comply with their standards for several years and has yet to fix many of the violations against them.

Wisconsin companies that fail to comply with OSHA standards could be at a much higher risk for a work accident or even an employee's serious injury or death. Those workers who have suffered from such workplace accidents should ensure that they understand their rights as they may be eligible to claim workers' compensation benefits from their employers to help cover their medical and related expenses.

Source: Woodworking Network, "Pallet Maker Cited for New Round of Amputation Hazard Violations," Rich Christianson, Oct. 29, 2012

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