Worker's Fatal Fall Leads to Cotton Manufacturer's $62,337 Fine

OSHA cited the company with 16 safety and health violations that include allowing explosive dust to accumulate and exposing workers to 1.2 times the permissible exposure limit for unwashed cotton dust.

OSHA has cited Parkdale America LLC in Lavonia, Ga., with 16 safety and health violations following the death of a worker in September 2010, who fell from a rolling ladder while replacing the drive housing unit on a spinning machine. Proposed penalties for the citations total $62,337.

OSHA cited the company with one serious safety violation related to the fatality for failing to ensure the rubber feet were installed on the bottom of the mobile ladder. Five other serious safety violations include failing to guard nip points on finishing drawing machines; have an adequate drenching and eye wash station where corrosive materials were being handled; ensure fixed wiring was used instead of flexible cords; use proper chip guarding nozzles; and provide the proper electrical outlet approved for use in damp and wet conditions.

A separate health inspection revealed 10 serious violations that include allowing explosive dust to accumulate, failing to establish audiometric testing for employees, using an audiometer that had not been calibrated, failing to establish a noise training program, failing to monitor exposure to cotton dust, failing to measure the effectiveness of the dust ventilation system, exposing workers to 1.2 times the permissible exposure limit for unwashed cotton dust, failing to provide a medical surveillance program for employees exposed to cotton dust, failing to train employees on the exposure to cotton dust, and failing to post a warning sign where cotton dust limits were exceeded.

"Employers have a responsibility to ensure the equipment workers use is in good condition and does not pose a hazard, as in this tragic case," said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. "Additionally, this employer has placed other workers in danger by exposing them to unacceptable levels of cotton dust, which has long been recognized as the cause of brown lung in textile workers."

Parkdale America is a cotton manufacturer headquartered in Gastonia, N.C., and has facilities in South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Alabama, as well as in Mexico and Colombia.

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