Alabama Wool Plant Fined $182,500 for Repeat LOTO, Other Violations

OSHA is proposing $182,500 in penalties for four safety violations found at Sloss Industries Fiber Division's manufacturing plant in Birmingham, Ala. Sloss, which operates the world's largest slag wool plant, had agreed after a 2005 OSHA inspection to perform required annual inspections of its lockout/tagout procedures, designed to prevent unintended machine startup, but the agency said its March 2008 inspection of the site revealed that the company was not conducting the annual inspections. As a result, the agency is proposing a $150,000 fine for the repeat offense.

In addition, Sloss is receiving a $25,000 penalty for allegedly failing to establish lockout/tagout procedures for all of its machinery and equipment at the plant. OSHA inspectors found that the company had instituted lockout/tagout procedures on less than half of its machinery. Two other serious safety violations, with $7,500 in penalties, are being proposed against the company for exposing employees to electrical hazards.

"After agreeing to correct problems found during our previous inspection, management's admitted failure to make those changes seriously jeopardizes the safety and health of the people working in their plant," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's area director in Birmingham. Sloss, a subsidiary of Walter Industries, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to contest the violations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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