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Shelbyville factory in trouble again, faces record IOSHA fines

August 23, 2012
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The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Wednesday it has issued a record fine after an inspection at a Shelbyville glass factory.

Pilkington North America faces $453,000 in proposed penalties after state inspectors detected 29 safety violations at the plant, according to agency documents.

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, said Bob Dittmer, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Labor, which includes IOSHA.

Pilkington’s 350-employee Shelbyville factory produces glass for automakers such as Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and General Motors. Toledo, Ohio-based Pilkington North America is a subsidiary of NSG Group, which has its headquarters in Tokyo.

The safety allegations, which IOSHA issued to the company Monday, follow $150,000 in fines that IOSHA charged the company in July for six “repeat” violations. Those fines stemmed from a follow-up investigation after the company received $32,000 in fines—later reduced to $15,000—in November 2010 after a worker died on the job.

An Aug. 18 IBJ story detailed Pilkington's struggles to address IOSHA's safety concerns.

The catalyst for the safety inspections was the September 2010 death of 59-year-old maintenance technician Kelly Dean Caudill of Connersville.

Caudill, who worked at Pilkington for 19 years, was repairing a conveyor that moves broken glass that another company recycles and resells. A nearby air cylinder activated and crushed Caudill. He later died at a hospital.

The initial, post-accident investigation and the follow-up earlier this year targeted specific issues at the plant.

IOSHA returned to the plant most recently because employees complained of ongoing facility-wide safety problems, Dittmer said.

This time, the agency was more thorough as staff conducted a “comprehensive” inspection, also known as a “wall-to-wall.”

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

In the report, violations ranged from missing warning signs to knowingly exposing workers to dangerous machinery without proper safety guards, IOSHA records state.

Pilkington spokeswoman Roberta Steedman wrote in an e-mail that the company has corrected some of the issues while it is evaluating others to determine how to address concerns.

Pilkington has filed paperwork saying it intends to appeal the July safety orders.

The company said it intends to keep 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 wrote.

Pilkington notified IOSHA it would contest the safety orders to “preserve [its] rights and continue discussions and negotiations with IOSHA aimed at resolving this matter, while doing everything possible to ensure the safety of [its] people.”

The case is set to go before an administrative law judge, who will rule whether the company must comply with IOSHA’s orders and pay the fine if there is no settlement.

Pilkington has until Sept. 14 to correct the newest safety orders and pay the penalty or contest the violations. The company can also set up an informal meeting to review the report’s details and set up a timetable to address IOSHA’s concerns.

If the auto supplier chooses to appeal the most recent violations, as well, the judge could decide whether to combine the two cases into one.

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