Kumho deemed ‘severe violator’ by OSHA for repeated health, safety violations

A tire manufacturer was fined more than $500,000 after health and safety hazards were reported in a recent inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Employees at Kumho Tire Georgia Inc. in south Bibb County were found to be exposed to fall risks, burn, amputation, chemical and electroshock hazards, according to details in a May 23 letter notifying the company of the citations and penalties.

“This employer exposed workers to multiple safety and health deficiencies that put them at risk for serious or fatal injuries,” OSHA Atlanta-East Area Director William Fulcher said in a news release.

Several of the 21 citations issued were for violations the company was also cited for in a June 2017 inspection. The tire manufacturer never sent a response to OSHA that laid out a plan to correct the 2017 violations, so OSHA inspectors returned for a follow-up inspection that started in November, according to a statement from OSHA.

Results from the recent inspection prompted OSHA to put the tire-making company in its “Severe Violator Enforcement Program” that “concentrates resources on inspecting employers who have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations,” according to the federal agency’s website.

All but $90,500 of the $507,299 penalty Kumho received was for repeated violations, according to a letter OSHA sent to Kumho including the citations and notification of penalty. The $90,500 penalty is related to new violations.

Kumho has until June 19 to respond to OSHA’s findings.

Repeated violations in the recent inspection included employees being exposed to:

Deep pits containing moving equipment and no guardrails.

Hazards “associated with the release of hazardous energy or unexpected start up of equipment and machinery.”

Hot surfaces and points of operation, movement or rotation.

Caught-in hazards while “performing tasks including but not limited to grabbing, feeding and removing rubber and cutting samples, which required them to reach into the danger area.”

The company also was fined for not having an emergency eyewash/shower station installed and not marking or labeling bottles of hazardous materials.

Kumho did not immediately respond to emails from The Telegraph seeking comment.

The tire company, based in Seoul, South Korea, opened in the Sofkee Industrial Park of Ga. 247 in 2016. It has about 400 employees and the capacity to produce 4 million tires a year. It is the largest manufacturing plant to open in Macon in 40 years.

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