OSHA Fines Ashley Furniture $1.76 Million

"The company apparently blamed the victims for their own injuries, but there is clear evidence that injuries were caused by the unsafe conditions created by the company. OSHA is committed to making sure that the total disregard Ashley Furniture has shown to safety stops here and now," said Dr. David Michaels.

OSHA on Feb. 2 announced it has assessed 12 willful, 12 repeat, and 14 serious safety violations at Ashley Furniture Industries Inc.'s Arcadia, Wis., location, in a citation carrying a total of $1,766,000 in penalties. During a three-and-a-half year period, 4,500 employees at that location experienced more than 1,000 work-related injuries, including a worker who lost three fingers in July 2014 while operating a woodworking machine, according to OSHA, which inspected the facility after his injury. More than 100 of the recorded injuries were caused by similar machinery, according to the agency.

Ashley Furniture also has been placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program; OSHA previously had cited the Arcadia facility in 2014 after an employee suffered a partial finger amputation.

"Ashley Furniture has created a culture that values production and profit over worker safety, and employees are paying the price," U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said. "Safety and profits are not an 'either/or' proposition. Successful companies across this nation have both."

"Ashley Furniture intentionally and willfully disregarded OSHA standards and its own corporate safety manuals to encourage workers to increase productivity and meet deadlines. The company apparently blamed the victims for their own injuries, but there is clear evidence that injuries were caused by the unsafe conditions created by the company. OSHA is committed to making sure that the total disregard Ashley Furniture has shown to safety stops here and now," added Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor of occupational safety and health.

The 12 willful and 12 repeat violations involved not taking necessary steps to protect workers from being injured by moving machine parts. OSHA reported that the company "did not prevent machines from unintentionally starting when workers were performing tooling and blade changes on woodworking machinery, and also failed to provide adequate safety mechanisms to prevent contact with those moving parts. These types of violations are among the most frequently cited by OSHA and often result in death or permanent disability."

OSHA reported that the serious violations included not training workers on safety procedures and hazards present when servicing machinery, inadequate emergency shower facilities for workers exposed to corrosive materials, electrical safety violations, and failing to equip some machines with readily accessible emergency stop buttons.

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