Dudley Lumber faces US$106,650 in fines after being cited by OSHA for 26 safety and health violations at its facility in Salem, Alabama; company has 15 days to appeal

COLUMBUS, Georgia , February 14, 2014 () – Dudley Lumber Co., which operates a lumber yard in Salem, Ala., about 17 miles west of Phenix City, faces a fine of $106,650 for more than two dozen safety and health violations at its facility, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday.

The company, which also has a plant in Lafayette, Ala., was cited for 26 violations following an inspection in August of last year at the Salem location. The labor department's U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration served Dudley Lumber with notice of the penalties Wednesday.

Labor department spokesman Lindsay Williams said the company has 15 days from the official notice to appeal the citations and fines through an informal hearing. That's what Dudley Lumber manager Carl Dudley said the company plans to do.

"To my knowledge, I think everything is back to their specifications," Dudley said. "We'll present everything we've done to meet their specifications."

He said the lumber yard, which was founded in the late 1950s, employs between 50 and 60 people.

OSHA inspectors said Dudley Lumber allowed employees to be exposed to various dangers, including not having locks on equipment to prevent them from being started while workers were in the vicinity of the machinery. The threat included possible amputation from such "unguarded" equipment.

The company, OSHA said, also did not have seat belts on industrial equipment and mandate their use, and had no emergency wash stations for workers handling corrosive materials. It also exposed employees to excessive levels of noise.

"I am concerned by this employer's lack of effort to protect workers from hazards, such as unguarded machinery, hearing damage and fire hazards," Joseph Roesler, OSHA's area director in Mobile, said in a statement. "Earning a paycheck should not require exposure to risk of serious injury or death because an employer chose not to put worker safety first."

OSHA guidelines say a serious violation "occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known."

The administration said the August 2013 inspection is the second at Dudley Lumber's Salem and Lafayette facilities since 2004. The latter year, it was hit with six "serious" violations and ended up paying a $7,200 penalty.

OSHA said the lumber company now employs about 130 people combined at the two mills.

There were 81 fatal work-related injuries in Alabama in 2012, OSHA said, citing the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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