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OSHA: Auto Parts Supplier 'Put Profits Over Human Suffering'

Two 2016 incidents -- a fracture and an amputation -- led to the latest decision, though the company has an extensive history of violations.

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The U.S. Department of Labor reported that OSHA has issued 57 citations for safety violations to Sunfield Inc., a Herbon, OH-based auto parts' manufacturer. The agency has also proposed the company pay more than $3.42 million in total fines “for its failure to disconnect machinery from a power supply and prevent sudden movement before maintenance and service, and to train workers in how to operate machine presses safely and to service and maintain them.”

According to the DOL, the fines assessed are one of the largest OSHA penalties ever filed against a company in the automotive parts industry.

A recent press release identified two incidents in early 2016 that led to the decision:

  • On Jan. 6, 2016, a 22-year-old male temporary worker suffered multiple lacerations and a fractured right elbow, while removing scrap from a blanking press after operating machine parts caught his arm because safety light curtains were not operating correctly.
  • On Feb. 18, 2016, a full-time 58-year-old Sunfield employee had to undergo surgical amputation of his right arm above the elbow after his arm was crushed as he removed scrap on a robotic press line. Investigators again found that the machine's danger zone did not have adequate safe guards to prevent employees from coming in contact with operating machine parts.

The agency also placed the company in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program for failure to address these safety hazards, partly due to Sunfield’s extensive history of violations. Since 1997, 16 of 20 inspections conducted found multiple violations, said OSHA.

"Sunfield has shown a total disregard for its workers, the kind rarely seen since the darkest days of the past when callous industrialists ruled and put profits before human suffering and common decency," said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor of Occupational Safety and Health. "This has to stop.”

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