Federal safety investigators found workers at General Aluminum Mfg. Co.’s Wapakoneta site exposed to machine hazards, just 36 days after they found similar violations at the aluminum vehicle parts manufacturer’s facility in Conneaut, Ohio.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected the Wapakoneta facility in February and found a band saw and quench tank lacked adequate machine guarding. The agency also found the company failed to train workers performing service and maintenance tasks on industrial machinery on energy control procedures – commonly known as lockout/tagout – which exposed them to amputation, caught-in and struck-by hazards. OSHA inspectors also issued citations for these violations at the Conneaut and Ravenna facilities.
OSHA cited one repeat, two willful and 10 serious violations at the Wapakoneta plant for exposing workers to fall hazards while working on top of casting machines, burn hazards due to water accumulation around casting machines, and using improper personal protective equipment. Inspectors determined worker exposure to electrical and arc flashes, confined space and powered industrial vehicle hazards. The agency has proposed $480,240 in penalties.
OSHA opened the Wapakoneta inspection on Feb. 8, 2022, and the Conneaut inspection on Jan. 3, 2022, both under the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The agency placed the company in the program after a worker at its Ravenna plant suffered fatal injuries in March 2021.
“General Aluminum’s continued failure to protect its workers is a prime example of why OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program allows the agency to inspect any facility operated by a company cited for exposing workers to egregious hazards,” said OSHA Regional Administrator William Donovan in Chicago. “This company repeatedly ignored OSHA and a third-party auditor’s recommendations to improve safety procedures and training, and immediately comply with industry and federal safety standards to demonstrate a commitment to protect workers.”
In June 2022, OSHA cited the company’s Conneaut plant for eight violations and assess $315,952 in proposed penalties. In September 2021, OSHA cited the company for 38 violations with $1,671,738 in proposed penalties after an investigation into the March 2021 fatality in Ravenna. The company contested those citations.
Company management signed formal settlement agreements to resolve OSHA citations for machine guarding and lockout/tagout violations found during inspections conducted between 2015 and 2017 and hired a third-party consultant to conduct comprehensive machine guarding and lockout/tagout audits between 2017 and 2019. The audits identified specific machine guarding and lockout/tagout program deficiencies and provided recommendations the company failed to implement.
Founded in 1943, General Aluminum Mfg. Co. produces engineered automotive castings. The company employs about 1,200 workers nationwide and 137 employees at the Wapakoneta location. Owned by Park Ohio Holdings Corp. in Cleveland, the company also has locations in Freemont and Huntington, Indiana.
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 Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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