Ashley Furniture Fined Millions for Wisconsin Workers' Injuries
The U.S. Occupational and Safety Health Administration hit Ashley Furniture, Inc. with a $1.76 million fine for an abundance of workplace injuries. In less than 3.5 years, more than 1,000 work-related injuries were documented, and OSHA investigators discovered 12 willful, 12 repeated, and 14 serious safety violations at the Arcadia facility.
In addition to the fine, Ashley Furniture has been placed on OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The U.S. Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez, stated that, “Ashley Furniture has created a culture that values production and profit over worker safety, and employees are paying the price.”
Safety Violation Specifics
The 12 willful and 12 repeated violations stemmed from allegations that the company was not taking proper protocol to keep its workers safe from moving machine parts. In fact, investigations discovered that the plant's woodworking machinery would accidentally turn on while the workers were changing the blades or conducting other tooling changes—the safety mechanisms to help prevent employees from coming into contact with the machines' moving parts were insufficient. Additionally, the 14 serious safety violations included improper employee training in regards to the safety procedures and dangers associated with such machinery.
As an example of the company's safety failings, OSHA cited one incident of an employee's finger being partially cut off by the moving parts of a machine. In July 2014, another worker lost three of his fingers to one of the woodworking machines that lacked the required safety mechanisms.
Employees were also unnecessarily exposed to corrosive materials because the plant lacked adequate drenching facilities to clean them off, and several of the machines did not have easily accessible emergency stop buttons.
Workplace Accidents Statewide
Unfortunately, disregard for employee safety is not uncommon. As Wisconsin moves to become the 25th Right to Work State, workers may no longer have the protection of unions' collective bargaining agreements. Furthermore, Governor Walker is looking to overhaul the workers' compensation system to the detriment of the injured. The result is a decrease in workplace protection and eventually workplace injury compensation.
Contact a Wisconsin Workplace Injury Lawyer
If you have suffered a workplace injury and are unsure what steps to take next, please contact one of our Green Bay workplace injury attorneys or Appleton workplace injury attorneys at Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd. Our offices are conveniently located in Appleton, Green Bay, Oshkosh, and New London, and we are prepared to review your case and help you recover compensation for your injuries. Call us today at 920-739-7366.