Manufacturing

Champlain business cited for OSHA violations

By: DAN HEATH

CHAMPLAIN — A local company faces up to $170,100 in fines from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Testori Interiors, located at 107 Lawrence Paquette Industrial Drive in Champlain, was cited recently for 24 alleged violations of workplace safety and health. The citations are the result of inspections that started in March in response to an employee’s complaint.

Kimberly Castillon, OSHA’s Albany area director, said Testori’s deficient safety protocols place its workers at grave risk of injury, including amputation and even death. 

“The fact that no serious injuries resulted from these hazards is fortunate because workplace safety must be established through proactive initiative, not complacency,” she said in a press release.

“The large penalties proposed in this case reflect the severity of the hazards and this employer’s disregard for safety.”

VIOLATIONS DETAILED

The most serious charge is one willful violation for failure to develop, document and use lockout and tagout procedures for controlling potentially hazardous energy when workers performed maintenance on machines, such as sanders and presses.

Maintenance activities — which include clearing debris from machines, changing router bits and sanding belts, and cleaning equipment — are necessary to prevent the unintended activation of machinery during these activities. 

The willful violation carries a $63,000 fine.

The company was also cited for 16 safety violations deemed serious, including failure to properly store, transfer and label flammable liquid; provide guards on saws and sanders; train workers on the proper use of a fire extinguisher; and address electrical and confined space hazards. 

Additionally, Testori was cited for six serious health violations, including failure to provide workers with adequate personal protective equipment and fit test respirators. The proposed penalties for the serious violations are $106,200. 

One “other-than-serious” violation for inadequate record-keeping carries a proposed penalty of $900.

15-DAY DEADLINE

Testori Industries Division Manager Becky Nieves told the Press-Republican the firm received OSHA’s packet of information last week. She declined to comment until after they have studied the allegations further.

“We have not had a chance to look at the package, let alone respond to them,” she said Monday afternoon.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements or with plain indifference to worker safety and health, the release said. 

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. 

And an other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

Testori has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

According to the company website, Testori Interiors expanded to Champlain in 2001 and has 20 employees.

See the details about the OSHA findings at http://tinyurl.com/lw5j245 and http://tinyurl.com/lnp9w28.

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com

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