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News Release

OSHA News Release: [06/12/2014]
Contact Name: Diana Petterson or Juan Rodriguez
Phone Number: (972) 850-4710 or x4709
Email:
Petterson.Diana@dol.gov or Rodriguez.Juan@dol.gov
Release Number: 14-1082-DAL

US Department of Labor's OSHA cites seat belt and air bag manufacturer for exposing workers to serious noise and machine hazards

Higuchi International Corp. fined $102,600

SAN ANTONIO — Higuchi International Corp., doing business as Higuchi Manufacturing America LLC, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for nine violations, including eight serious citations and one willful violation, for exposing workers to unsafe noise levels and machinery at its Elmendorf facility. OSHA began its inspection of the vehicular seat belt and automotive air bag components manufacturer in December 2013 after receiving a worker complaint. Proposed penalties total $102,600.

"By failing to provide required safety procedures for workers who operate machinery, such as the stamping presses used at Higuchi Manufacturing, the company put these workers in harm's way. This indifference to worker safety will not be tolerated," said Kelly C. Knighton, OSHA's area director in San Antonio. "The history of injuries and fatalities with these types of machines has proven that employer attention and action keeps workers safe."

A willful violation, with a penalty of $63,000, was cited for failing to establish safety procedures for workers who service and maintain machinery that uses locks, tags and training to protect workers from moving machine parts. The employer knew of these hazards, but failed to implement proper safety procedures to protect workers. Bodily injuries, amputations and death can result from uncontrolled machines and unexpected machine activation. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

The eight serious violations, with a penalty of $39,600, were cited for failing to provide and ensure the use of adequate personal protective equipment for employees working with hazardous and corrosive chemicals, which led to an employee being injured. Other violations cited included failure to ensure the use of safety blocks on mechanical power presses and covered or guarded open floor holes in employee work areas. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Citations were issued for failing to conduct regular baseline hearing tests and train employees who were exposed to hazardous noise levels above the OSHA-required limits. Additionally, the company failed to provide workers with a suitable selection of hearing protection.

Japan-based Higuchi Manufacturing, which employs about 133 workers at its Elmendorf facility, has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission. The citations can be viewed at
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/HiguchiInternationalCorp_951645_061014.pdf.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's San Antonio Area Office at 210-454-5040.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.