OSHA Proposes More than $42,000 in Fines against New Balance Athletic Shoe

OSHA has cited New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc. for alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards following an inspection at the shoe manufacturer's Lawrence, Mass., distribution center. The company faces a total of $42,225 in proposed fines.

OSHA's inspection found unqualified employees working on electrical panels that had not first been de-energized to prevent electric shock hazards. In addition, the workers had not been trained in safe electrical work practices, including the use of personal protective equipment, and were not wearing protective gloves. The inspection also identified ungrounded equipment, unmarked electrical disconnects, extension cords used in place of fixed wiring, and wooden pallets that posed a fire hazard.

"Electricity moves at the speed of light and can kill or disable a worker literally in a flash, which is why proper training, procedures, and personal protective equipment are all essential to safeguarding workers against this hazard," said Paul Mangiafico, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. "While it is fortunate that no electrocution occurred in this case, worker safety must not ever be left to chance."

As a result of its inspection, OSHA has issued the company three repeat citations, with $35,000 in fines, for the lack of training and personal protective equipment and for an ungrounded piece of equipment, and four serious citations, with $7,225 in fines, for the remaining items. The repeat citations stem from New Balance having been cited by OSHA in 2006 for similar hazards at its Norway, Maine, location. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

Detailed information on electrical hazards and safety is available on OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3075.pdf.

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