Ashley Furniture Corporate-Wide Settlement Announced

Ashley Furniture has agreed to pay penalties of $1.75 million, to correct all cited violations, and to retain a vice president for safety who is responsible for managing a corporate-wide program to identify and evaluate prevention and control of machine hazards.

OSHA and Ashley Furniture, which is the largest U.S. retailer of home furnishings, have agreed to a corporate-wide settlement agreement that provides an effective framework for protecting workers from machine hazards, according to the agency. Currently there are 27 corporate-wide settlement agreements available on the OSHA website, and looking at the company names -- Beverly Enterprises, Imperial Sugar, BP Products North America, WalMart, Republic Steel -- is a reminder of some of the biggest enforcement battles the agency has fought.

Back in February 2015, OSHA announced it had issued $1.7 million in penalties to Ashley Furniture and placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program after inspecting its Arcadia, Wis., facility; the new DOL announcement said the agreement resolves all pending OSHA citations at the company's plants in Arcadia, in Whitehall Wis., and in Ecru and Ripley, Miss.

Ashley Furniture has agreed to pay penalties of $1.75 million, to correct all cited violations, and to retain a vice president for safety who is responsible for managing a corporate-wide program to identify and evaluate prevention and control of machine hazards. The settlement emphasizes employee involvement and management commitment as part of the implementation of the machine safety program. Ashley also agreed to submit status reports to OSHA annually during the two-year term of the agreement; conduct periodic audits of facilities to identify machine hazards and an annual review of the effectiveness of the program; develop internal corporate monitoring provisions; and identify a corporate officer or senior managers who are responsible for implementation and oversight of the agreement.

"With this settlement, Ashley Furniture is taking important steps to change its culture, invest in its employees, and work with OSHA to make significant changes to protect the safety and health of workers," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "We look forward to working with Ashley Furniture to ensure that it fulfills its commitment and focuses on reducing injuries on the job. This settlement is an important reminder that every worker has the right to a safe workplace, and we will continue to use all available tools to protect that right."

"This settlement will require Ashley Furniture to implement a program to prevent machine hazards, in particular those that lead to amputations. In addition, workers will now have a voice in how to continuously improve working conditions and safety in the covered plants," said OSH Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels.

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