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RSI cited by Labor Dept.

 

JENNA-LEY HARRISON

Staff Writer

 

A Lincolnton manufacturing plant where a man died earlier this year is expected to pay nearly $19,000 in penalties for violating the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Act, the North Carolina Department of Labor said.

RSI Home Products Manufacturing, Inc., located on Lincoln County Parkway, was cited this month for three serious violations N.C. Department of Labor officials discovered during an inspection initiated in February after employee Marendonio Francisco Viruel Lopez, 35, suffered traumatic injuries inside the facility.

The victim became caught in an angular saw and was rushed to an area hospital where he later died, state officials said.

All three violations pertain to the plant’s energy control program and procedures along with factors such as business size, previous violations and “the good faith and cooperation of the employer,” according to a N.C. Department of Labor press release.

State officials noted in citation documents issued to RSI on Wednesday that the plant employer failed to “establish an energy control program consisting of energy control procedures, employee training and periodic inspections to ensure” equipment, including saws, with the potential for energizing or unexpectedly releasing stored energy was “isolated” and deemed “inoperative.”

Such procedures should be developed and documented beforehand in order to keep workers away from hazardous items and prevent on-site accidents, state officials said.

The plant additionally lacked employee training on how to apply, use and remove energy controls safely, the release said.

More specifically, RSI equipment operators were not required to train on how to isolate energy and apply a lock to necessary devices, ultimately protecting themselves from possible saw energization.

A third citation stated non-authorized employees at the plant applied lock out or tag devices to energy-isolating devices.

RSI has been asked to pay $18,900 in penalties for the violations, state officials said.

Each violation has a $6,300 proposed penalty, $700 less than the maximum civil penalty for a serious OSH violation, and must be fixed or reduced by Aug. 30.

The N.C. Department of Labor will not benefit from the penalties. Instead, the department will transfer all monies to the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund, which will hand the penalties over to the state’s public school system, according to an email from Public Information Officer Neal O’Briant.

State inspectors cited the plant for one serious violation following a 2009 inspection and six non-serious violations two years later.

State officials said the plant can contest the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission of North Carolina about the violations or conduct an informal conference with the Labor Department.

However, either option, including paying the money, must be done within 15 working days of receiving receipt of the citation.

 

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