AUBURN — The U.S. Labor Department has cited Formed Fiber Technologies for seven violations of workplace safety standards and is proposing more than $100,000 in fines.

According to a statement from the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Tuesday morning, the Auburn plant has been exposing employees to “the risk of lacerations, crushed fingers, amputation or worse if struck by or caught in unguarded or unexpectedly activated machinery.”

No one has been hurt, an OSHA spokesman said, but employees have been placed in situations in which they could have been severely injured.

As a result, OSHA has cited the plant for “two repeated and five serious violations of workplace safety standards.”

According to OSHA, 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. A repeated violation exists when an employer has been cited previously for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the past five years.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Formed Fiber Technologies President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Richard said his company was reviewing the OSHA citations.

“Formed Fiber Technologies places the highest priority on workplace safety, and in the past several months has taken significant steps, in terms of both personnel and capital expenditures, to ensure that our facilities are safe for our employees,” he said. “We will afford serious consideration to the OSHA citations, and will continue to strive to provide our employees with safe and productive places to work.”

Detroit Technologies bought Formed Fiber Technologies in 2013.

“Since that time, our new management team has been working diligently, through both interaction with OSHA and with independent consultants, to bring our workplaces into full compliance with safety standards and to establish and maintain a corporate culture where the welfare of our employees is paramount,” Richard said. “We have made considerable progress, and we intend to continue relentlessly.”

The citations are a result of an inspection of the facility by the Department of Labor that began in September 2014.

The statement released by OSHA said violations at Formed Fiber’s Sidney, Ohio, facility led OSHA to place the company in its Severe Violators Enforcement Program in 2013. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.

This is the third time OSHA has cited the Auburn facility for safety violations. In 2011, OSHA found three serious violations and one “other” violation. Formed Fiber Technologies was fined $2,380. In 2013, OSHA found four serious violations. The company was fined $15,400.

Formed Fiber Technologies has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Formed Fiber Technologies manufactures needlepunched nonwoven fabrics and polyester staple fibers, according to http://www.formedfiber.com/.


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