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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Auto supplier Sewon America faces $135,900 in fines for OSHA safety violations



Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Auto supplier Sewon America faces $135,900 in fines for OSHA safety violations

LaGrange plant makes parts for Kia auto assembly plant in West Point

- tadams@ledger- enquirer.com
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Sewon America Inc., a major supplier to the Kia Motors auto assembly plant in West Point, Ga., faces $135,900 in penalties over a series of safety violations, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Tuesday.
OSHA said it conducted an inspection of the Sewon facility in LaGrange, Ga., in March after receiving a complaint. The agency cited the company for failing to provide employees with proper hand protection and not protecting them from welding flash burns. The proposed penalty for that is $99,000.
A dozen more safety violations cited by the agency include “failing to train or evaluate workers operating industrial trucks; failing to guard against confined sparks during welding operations; failing to provide lockout/tagout procedures for energy sources; failing to provide proper machine guarding on various machines; and various electrical deficiencies.” The proposed penalties for those total $36,900.
“There is no reason to leave employees unprotected,” Andre Richards, directors of OSHA’s Atlanta-West Office in Smyrna, Ga., said in a statement. “Management is aware of the deficiencies in their safety and health program and needs to take action.”
Sewon America officials did not return phone calls Tuesday for comment on OSHA’s citations and proposed penalties. The company has 15 business days after receiving the official paperwork from the agency to ask for a meeting with Richards.
The Sewon plant, located at 1000 Sewon Blvd. in LaGrange, manufactures stamped chassis and body components, as well as decorative trim pieces. When initially announcing its plans, the company said it anticipated hiring up to 700 workers for a 420,000-square-foot factory on 65 acres at a price tag of about $170 million.
A job fair in early 2009 drew more than 3,000 people looking to fill about 300 of those positions.

Common Sense Counsel: It is advised that you have a comprehensive safety audit conducted ASAP. The next time the Government “come to help you” the cost of being in the wrong just went up.

Tommy Eden is a Lee County native, an attorney with the local office of Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at teden@constangy.com or 334-246-2901. Blog at www.alabamaatwork.com