The consequences of hiding safety hazards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) during an investigation can be severe, as a Nebraska flooring manufacturer recently discovered. The agency recently launched an investigation as to why a MP Global Products' employee lost a finger and significantly damaged another while operating a company machine. During the investigation, OSHA uncovered that the company had attempted to conceal an entire production line from the investigators, even threatening to fire workers if they revealed any safety concerns.
The company told its workers to remain silent during the inspection as they stood in a dark, back room and shut down that entire production line. Throughout the investigation, the agency found that much of the machinery lacked proper safety guards that would serve to protect its workers from amputation hazards.
MP Global Products faces $244,000 in proposed fines as a result of 22 serious, two willful and one other-than-serious safety violations. The recent amputation incident also caused it to be placed in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
"This was a willful attempt to prevent inspectors from discovering numerous machine safety violations in the plant," said Jeff Funke, OSHA's area director in Omaha. "Knowingly requiring workers to operate unsafe machinery and threatening their jobs for reporting unsafe work practices are illegal and shameful activities. MP Global needs to immediately correct the multiple machine hazards in its facility."
In a company statement, MP Global Products expressed their belief that the allegations proposed through the investigation are "grossly inappropriate" and "not supported by the evidence." Despite its objection, the manufacturer conceded to work with OSHA and present additional evidence for their claim in the near future.