Central Indiana Glass Plant Faces $453K in Safety Fines

August 24, 2012

A central Indiana glass factory faces what the state workplace safety agency calls a record $453,000 in fines for violations that weren’t corrected after a worker’s death nearly two years ago.

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration imposed the fines on Pilkington North America after inspectors found 29 violations at its Shelbyville plant, The Indianapolis Star and the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.

The safety allegations follow $150,000 in fines that the agency charged the Toledo, Ohio-based subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate NSG last month for six repeat violations.

In September 2010 a maintenance worker was fatally crushed in machinery at the plant, resulting in Pilkington being fined $15,000.

The state agency said violations ranged from missing warning signs to knowingly exposing workers to dangerous machinery without proper safety guards at the factory about 25 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

“We were very disappointed to find they hadn’t made the corrections we ordered them to make,” agency spokesman Bob Dittmer said.

Pilkington spokeswoman Roberta Steedman said the company has corrected some of the issues while it is evaluating others.

“We share a common goal with IOSHA, with the United Steelworkers and with our workforce, to provide a safe workplace for all our employees,” Steedman said. “The company will continue to work cooperatively and proactively with our employees and with IOSHA in this regard.”

State officials returned to the 350-worker factory for a comprehensive inspection because employees complained of ongoing safety problems, Dittmer said.

“We inspected everything, overturned ever single rock we could lay our hands on,” he said.

The next largest set of fines IOSHA has on record was $332,250 that BP paid in a 2006 settlement for violations at its oil refinery in Whiting, Dittmer said.

Pilkington produces glass for companies such as Honda, Toyota and GM.

Steedman said Pilkington was appealing the July fines and was informally meeting with IOSHA to discuss the citations.

“However, there is a short window for completing informal settlements, and complicated matters often require additional time,” Steedman said.

The safety agency began its first investigation of the plant after 56-year-old Kelly Dean Caudill of Connersville, who worked 19 years in electrical maintenance at Pilkington, was fatally crushed in 2010 while repairing a conveyor.

The state issued $32,000 in proposed fines two months later. The company settled the citation for $15,000 and agreed to correct the problems.