Fuyao Glass America brought 2,000 jobs to town, but the explosion of investment has come with unexpected trouble over safety, culture clashes and foreign control. Nathan C. Ward/The New York Times
OSHA levies new safety allegations against Fuyao
Tom Gnau Staff Writer
5:22 p.m Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Fuyao Glass America has been cited again for alleged safety violations at its Moraine manufacturing plant, according to the Cincinnati office of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
And Fuyao’s environmental health and safety manager, John Crane, is no longer with the company, according to both Fuyao and Ken Montgomery, director of the Cincinnati-area OSHA office.
Safety issues have been raised at Fuyao in the past. Last November, OSHA proposed $226,937 in penalties against Fuyao for 23 “serious safety violations and one other-than-serious violation.” The penalties were later resolved between Fuyao and OSHA and the fines were reduced to $100,000.
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The company has now been cited for four new alleged safety violations, some of which are divided into multiple allegations. OSHA has proposed total fines of $37,843, according to a letter to the company from OSHA dated June 12.
Asked if these citations represent a step backwards for Fuyao, Montgomery said, “I don’t know what their plan is at this point.”
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He said the company is required to meet with OSHA representatives quarterly, and the next meeting is scheduled for the first week of August.
Fuyao has 15 working days from receiving the citation to request an informal conference contesting the allegations, should company leaders choose to go that route.
A message seeking comment was left for Crane.
On Wednesday, a Fuyao spokeswoman responded to questions, saying: “John Crane stepped down from the Fuyao safety team to pursue other professional opportunities.
“This team continues to execute on our comprehensive plan to improve safety inside our facility,” Fuyao’s statement also said. “While we may not agree with the legal conclusions of OSHA’s citations, we have and will continue to address the allegations they raise. Fuyao aims to exceed what is required of us by law. The safety and well-being of our employees is a common goal we share with OSHA.”
One citation alleges that in February, a Fuyao furnace operator was exposed to a possible fall while climbing on a three-foot-tall furnace.
Another citation says Fuyao had not evaluated furnaces to determine whether they were “permit-required confined spaces.” A third says the company had not ensured that workers entering a furnace had received training on working in permit-required confined spaces.
And a fourth citation says a worker who was servicing a furnace was not required to lock out a device from an energy source — ensuring that it could not be powered on. The citation said that in February an employee had entered a furnace without first locking out the space or verifying that electrical power was shut off before working on the machine.
And another citation alleges that a print operator was exposed to a hazard, due to the lack of a safeguard.”
Since 2014, Chinese industrialist and Fuyao Glass Industry Group Chairman Cho Tak Wong has transformed the former General Motors plant in Moraine into what the company says is the world’s biggest auto glass manufacturing site, with about 2,000 employees.
MORAINE, Ohio (WDTN) – Fuyao Glass America President John Gauthier is responding after several of Fuyao’s workers filed complaints with OSHA.
According to OSHA, the worker complaint detailed 30 safety issues, including fire hazards, electrocution risks, and lacerations to the hands and fingers. But, Gauthier says management didn’t learn of any of these alleged issues until they were reported in the media. That’s why he says good communication between the worker and the supervisor is the key to staying safe.
“We want to make sure our employees are as safe as they can be,” Gauthier said. “We also want to encourage our employees to bring these type of concerns to their supervisor.”
And by reporting these issues, Fuyao Glass America President John Gauthier says safety managers can immediately take action to fix the problem.
“Safety is not a one day thing,” Gauthier said. “Safety is a way of life in a manufacturing operation like this so no it’s not changing our attitude it’s not changing anything about our priorities. Our priority has always been that safety is number one.”
Fuyao would not answer specific questions about the alleged safety issues. However, they did tell us just this month, the company hired Environmental Health and Safety Manager John Crane–who previously worked for OSHA.
Crane says his main job is keeping an open line of communication between him and his other employees.
“Open communication is the key,” Crane said. “In the week that I’ve been here and the days I’ve been on sight my goal has been to interact with everyone I can, to work across all three shifts here at the workplace, and just to make sure that people are comfortable here, that they’re comfortable talking to me, and if they have immediate needs, I try to address those needs immediately.”
Currently, none of the workers at Fuyao are a part of the Union Of Autoworkers, but Gauthier says this might have been a way to get them to join.
We reached out to OSHA and the Union of Autoworkers about this story, but have yet to get a response.