Companies to appeal OSHA violations

Two local companies hit with hefty fines for safety violations have told the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration they plan to appeal.

Extrudex Aluminum in North Jackson, cited with eight safety violations, including two willful, after the Oct. 30 death of a worker crushed by a hot metal rack stacked with heavy aluminum, is scheduled for an informal OSHA conference May 7.

John Tomlin Jr., 21, of Niles, was killed when he was pinned by a rack with heavy, hot aluminum parts, which fell on him. Another 19-year-old worker was seriously burned, but survived.

Extrudex, based in Canada with 140 employees at its North Jackson plant, is now in OSHA’s severe violator program. It will undergo targeted follow-up inspections and be subject to fines up to $175,000.

Extrudex has argued it believes there is nothing the company could have done to prevent the tragedy.

In an unrelated OSHA case, Ball Aerosol and Specialty Container attended an informal conference with OSHA in recent weeks, and the company has verbally indicated it will contest violations filed against its Hubbard plant. The federal agency has not yet received official appeal notice, said OSHA spokeswoman Rhonda Burke. The company has until Thursday to file the official notice to contest.

OSHA cited Ball with 11 safety violations and proposed a fine of nearly $590,000.

The violations include seven willful and three repeat, stemming from what OSHA described as “exposing workers to machine guarding hazards at its Hubbard metal container manufacturing facility.”

OSHA inspected the facility Oct. 17 after receiving a complaint that alleged Ball Aerosol was exposing machine operators to unguarded hazardous machinery. The company was cited by OSHA in 2009 for a similar violation.