Dust Up: OSHA Snags $188K Fine From Pallet Manufacturer That Failed to Limit Exposures

This employer in Wisconsin paid the price for its negligence in not protecting its employees from exposures to hazardous air in the workplace.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has again cited Avid Pallet Services LLC after a follow-up inspection found employees continued to be exposed to wood dust. The company faces penalties of $188,302 for repeated, serious, and other-than-serious safety and health violations.

Inspectors determined that the Beloit, Wisconsin, pallet manufacturer failed to implement sufficient engineering controls to limit dust exposure, as well as train employees on the health hazards of wood dust. OSHA had previously cited the company for these hazards in 2016. Additional citations were issued after the follow-up inspection for failing to evaluate respiratory hazards, medically evaluate and fit test employees using respirators, inform employees of their right to see exposure records, and use adequate machine guarding on band saws.

“Employers are legally required to ensure that exposures to dust are properly evaluated and managed to protect employees from potential health hazards,” said OSHA’s Madison Area Office Director Chad Greenwood.

Visit the OSHA woodworking eTool webpage for information on evaluating exposure, exposure limits and effective exposure prevention programs.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov.

My thanks to Jon Hyman at the Ohio Employer Law Blog for mentioning this post in his what-I-read-this week  April 12 weekly roundup of HR and employment blogs.

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