Production Facility Cited Due to Workers' Exposure to Dangerous Confined Space, Machinery and Other Hazards
Schneider Electric faces $119,000 in penalties as well as 11 violations.
- By Shereen Hashem
- Apr 01, 2021
OSHA investigated Schneider Electric’s Oxford production facility in response to a complaint in 2021. According to an article, OSHA found machine operators and maintenance employees enter power-coating ovens without testing atmospheric conditions, securing national gas line or operating machine parts. This means the employer exposed the workers to asphyxiation hazards and potential for life-threatening injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that from 2011-2018, there were more than 1,000 confined space-related worker deaths.
The facility, which manufactures large busways used for power distribution, faces proposed penalties of $119,757. OSHA determined the company failed to designate the ovens as permit-required confined spaces requiring specific safety procedures before entry. The employer also refused to lockout/tagout the ovens during maintenance procedures. This resulted in OSHA citing the company for a violation well as others, totaling 11.
“Confined spaces often expose workers to atmospheric and mechanical hazards,” said OSHA Area Director Ken Montgomery in Cincinnati. “OSHA has specific regulations for implementing required training and safety procedures to protect workers who must enter confined spaces, including atmospheric testing and ensuring equipment and energy sources are disabled before workers enter these spaces.”
OSHA also found that the company:
1. Did not have an adequate respiratory protection program
2. Failed to train employees on the hazards of the power coat used on the products
3. Allowed epoxy powder coat to accumulate on surfaces
4. Exposed employees working on top of the ovens to fall hazards
5. Lacked employee training on safety and health hazards
According to OSHA, the company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent review commission.
Schneider Electric United States has more than 150,000 employees nationwide and 250 at the Oxford facility.
Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.