South Georgia pillow maker fined $190,757 for after three employees were amputated

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The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is fining a Swainsboro pillow manufacturer $190,758 in connection with amputations suffered by three employees.

The federal agency reported that Place Vendome Holding Company – operating as R&F Marketing – has a history of safety and health violations in the workplace.

An inspection OSHA conducted last November found that four workers had suffered serious injuries by being exposed to several of the same hazards the agency had reported in a November 2020 inspection:

In December 2020, a machine operator suffered an amputation injury. OSHA found no lockout procedures to safeguard workers.In February of last year, another machine operator had to have a finger amputated and suffered nine crushed fingers. OSHA found the machine’s energy control locks had been removed.In March of last year, a maintenance manager loading a pallet jack onto a truck suffered an amputation after a finger was caught between the wheels of the jack.In April of this year, another maintenance manager suffered a lacerated hand while trying to clean fibers out of a motor.

Following the November 2021 inspection, OSHA cited Place Vendome for seven repeat violations for obstructing exit routes, failing to post well-lit signs identifying exit routes and stacking materials in unstable or unsecured tiers.

The agency also cited the company for failing to mount or keep fire extinguishers accessible and train designated workers to use fire extinguishers.

Three other serious violations included locking an emergency exit door from the outside, failing to have emergency action plans in place, failing to establish and utilize equipment-specific procedures to control hazardous energy as well as failing to train workers on the procedures.

“Place Vendome once again exposed their employees needlessly to serious and life-altering hazards,” said Jose Gonzalez, OSHA’s acting area office director in Savannah.

“This ongoing disregard for the safety of their employees is unacceptable, and we will continue to hold them accountable until they follow all necessary federal requirements and take steps to protect workers at this facility.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before an independent review commission.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

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