WHITEHALL — The U.S.
Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health
Administration has again issued citations totaling $431,000 in
federal safety and health fines to Ashley Furniture for alleged
According to OSHA, the
Wisconsin-based company failed to protect workers from moving
machine parts at its Whitehall upholstery factory and was issued
one willful, five repeated and two serious citations Monday.
Ashley Furniture Industries,
Inc. issued a statement saying it “strongly disagrees – and will
vigorously challenge – proposed citations filed” by OSHA.
The citations Monday come
after OSHA earlier this year cited Ashley Furniture a total of
$1.8 million in fines during inspections at other company
facilities in Wisconsin.
Ashley Furniture responded
that OSHA’s announcement is “not a finding of fact, but its
assertions of alleged violations stem from inspections at the
plant on April 20 to 24, 2015.”
“The claim that Ashley
failed to protect its workers from moving machine parts is
outrageous,” said Paul Waters, legal counsel for Ashley
Furniture, in a statement. “At all times, Ashley has machine
guards in place that are provided by the manufacturer and, in
some cases, the company has gone beyond what manufacturers put
in place by installing additional guards and implementing
special procedures to protect workers. We will vigorously defend
ourselves against these charges before the Review Commission.”
According to OSHA, Ashley
Furniture failed to implement procedures to prevent machines
from unintentional start-up when operators changed blades,
cleaned machines and cleared jams exposing workers to dangerous
machine operating parts. The company failed to have operators
use locking devices to prevent unexpected machine movement, a
procedure known as lockout/tagout. This violation is among
OSHA's most frequently cited and often results in death or
Ashley Furniture said it is
continuing to expand its safety program with more training,
additional machinery processes and other improvements.