Today’s post comes from guest author Rod Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.
Just wow. The lawyers and employees who write blog posts for rehmlaw.com and truckerlawyers.com focus pretty frequently on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Nebraska and Iowa, along with Kansas and Missouri, happen to be in Region 7, so the focus is usually on those news releases from OSHA.
Every workplace safety lapse is one too many, especially when problems come to light because of an incident where a worker is injured or killed. Sometimes a person has to stop and do a double-take as to the specifics, just because the details might seem a little bit more on the extreme or unusual side. Today’s blog post focus of an Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. plant in Wisconsin fits the intense criteria very well, just because of the sheer quantity of injuries and the large fine proposed.
This link from Claims Journal gives more details. The takeaways that just make a person stop are in the numbers listed below.
In less than four years – 42 months:
- “More than 1,000 work-related injuries”
- “12 willful, 12 repeated and 14 serious safety violations” from an inspection after a worker lost three fingers in July
- $1.76 million in fines proposed by OSHA: that’s $1,760,000!
- The company was “placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program for failing to address safety hazards,” according to the Claims Journal article.
Although “Ashley Furniture said less than 1-in-4 of the cases required any time away from work … (and) the most common injury was muscle strains and sprains,” that is still a large number of incidents to consider. The article also contained this quote: “‘At Ashley, each employee’s safety and well-being is an absolute priority,’ said Steve Ziegeweid, Ashley Furniture’s director of health and safety.”
But most workers’ compensation lawyers would tend to side with U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, as quoted from a news release: “Ashley Furniture has created a culture that values production and profit over worker safety, and employees are paying the price.”