Rochester manufacturer faces $134k in OSHA fines

A Rochester company is facing $134,900 in fines for dozens of alleged health and safety violations.

Boston Felt Company Inc., a maker of felt and custom felt-cutting dyes, has been cited for 66 alleged “willful, serious and other-than-serious” violations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In inspections beginning in February, OSHA cited the company with one $56,000 fine alone for not protecting employees’ hearing when exposed to high noise levels.

In a statement release by OSHA on Aug. 20, 47 other issues were identified, carrying $74,700 in fines for such alleged violations as unguarded moving machine parts, electrical hazards, a sprinkler system not maintained in working order, damaged propane storage tanks located too close to the building, an incomplete emergency response plan; untrained forklift operators, lack of personal protective equipment and inadequate or incomplete safeguards for employees working in areas where asbestos or potentially asbestos-containing materials were present.

Seventeen additional, less serious, alleged violations were also found by OSHA inspectors with $4,200 in fines for failing to accurately record occupational injuries and illnesses, inadequate recordkeeping and other safety and health conditions.

Citation is made for these conditions when they have a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. It also defines a willful violation as “one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.”

Jim O’Brien, president and CEO of Boston Felt, said in an e-mail statement that “the company is in receipt of certain OSHA citations and has requested an informal conference with the area director of OSHA. He added that “if we do not enter into an informal settlement agreement, the company may decide to file a notice of intent to contest.

He said that “the company will make no further comment at this time but will continue to follow due process with full confidence that the outcome will be fair and beneficial to all parties involved.”

Boston Felt has 15 business days from the receipt of the citations to respond. — CINDY KIBBE

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