Ashley Furniture, with retail locations in Oklahoma and around the country, has recently been charged with nearly $1.8 million in fines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the company for failing to report a workplace accident at its Wisconsin factory in which an employee’s right finger was severed. The incident occurred in March while the employee was operating the company’s machinery.
The agency alleges that at least 1,000 injuries occurred at the plant during the past three and a half years. For the March incident, OHSA penalized the company in the amount of $83,200 and added it to the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
Following the OSHA inspection, the company faces two willful violations for neglecting to report a hospitalization within 24 hours and failing to adequately protect workers from dangerous machine parts. OSHA also cited the company with two lesser safety violations for failing to keep accurate injury records. According to the report, another employee was also seriously injured in January, which is why OSHA issued the willful violation following the March accident. A representative for Ashley Furniture said the company is committed to safety and that it hopes to contest the findings and resolve the issue in a legal manner.
Whenever an employee is hospitalized because of a workplace injury, employers are required by law to report the incident within 24 hours. Moreover, most employees who have been involved in a workplace accident or who have suffered an occupational illness have a right to file a workers’ compensation claim. The benefits of the claim generally cover a portion of the employee’s lost wages and his or her accident-related medical expenses. In the event an employer disputes the claim, the assistance of an attorney who has experience in these matters might prove invaluable.
Source: Consumerist, “OSHA: Ashley Furniture Failed To Report Incident In Which A Worker Lost His Finger”, Mary Beth Quirk, July 22, 2015