OSHA levies new safety allegations against Fuyao

Published: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 @ 5:07 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 @ 5:22 PM

Fuyao Glass America brought 2,000 jobs to town, but the explosion of investment has come with unexpected trouble over safety, culture clashes and foreign control. Nathan C. Ward/The New York Times
Fuyao Glass America brought 2,000 jobs to town, but the explosion of investment has come with unexpected trouble over safety, culture clashes and foreign control. Nathan C. Ward/The New York Times

Fuyao Glass America has been cited again for alleged safety violations at its Moraine manufacturing plant, according to the Cincinnati office of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

And Fuyao’s environmental health and safety manager, John Crane, is no longer with the company, according to both Fuyao and Ken Montgomery, director of the Cincinnati-area OSHA office.

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Safety issues have been raised at Fuyao in the past. Last November, OSHA proposed $226,937 in penalties against Fuyao for 23 “serious safety violations and one other-than-serious violation.” The penalties were later resolved between Fuyao and OSHA and the fines were reduced to $100,000.

The company has now been cited for four new alleged safety violations, some of which are divided into multiple allegations. OSHA has proposed total fines of $37,843, according to a letter to the company from OSHA dated June 12.

Asked if these citations represent a step backwards for Fuyao, Montgomery said, “I don’t know what their plan is at this point.”

RELATEDCustomer growth driving Fuyao toward break-even year

He said the company is required to meet with OSHA representatives quarterly, and the next meeting is scheduled for the first week of August.

Fuyao has 15 working days from receiving the citation to request an informal conference contesting the allegations, should company leaders choose to go that route.

A message seeking comment was left for Crane.

On Wednesday, a Fuyao spokeswoman responded to questions, saying: “John Crane stepped down from the Fuyao safety team to pursue other professional opportunities.

“This team continues to execute on our comprehensive plan to improve safety inside our facility,” Fuyao’s statement also said. “While we may not agree with the legal conclusions of OSHA’s citations, we have and will continue to address the allegations they raise. Fuyao aims to exceed what is required of us by law. The safety and well-being of our employees is a common goal we share with OSHA.”

One citation alleges that in February, a Fuyao furnace operator was exposed to a possible fall while climbing on a three-foot-tall furnace.

Another citation says Fuyao had not evaluated furnaces to determine whether they were “permit-required confined spaces.” A third says the company had not ensured that workers entering a furnace had received training on working in permit-required confined spaces.

And a fourth citation says a worker who was servicing a furnace was not required to lock out a device from an energy source — ensuring that it could not be powered on. The citation said that in February an employee had entered a furnace without first locking out the space or verifying that electrical power was shut off before working on the machine.

And another citation alleges that a print operator was exposed to a hazard, due to the lack of a safeguard.”

Since 2014, Chinese industrialist and Fuyao Glass Industry Group Chairman Cho Tak Wong has transformed the former General Motors plant in Moraine into what the company says is the world’s biggest auto glass manufacturing site, with about 2,000 employees.

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