Following Recent OSHA Citations, Fuyao Workers Call for Full-Scale Investigation Into Fire Hazards, Electrocution Risks, Laceration Injuries that Persist at Auto Plant
Moraine, Ohio – Auto workers at Fuyao Glass filed a complaint with the federal government Monday calling for a “wall-to-wall” investigation into a wide range of dangerous conditions found throughout the plant, including fire hazards, electrocution risks, and laceration injuries, among other hazards.
The workers’ complaint comes two weeks after the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that Fuyao – a major supplier of glass products to Hyundai, Kia, GM, and Chrysler — had committed multiple “serious” violations of federal safety and health laws and issued fines to the company. In their complaint, workers called the recent OSHA fines “the tip of the iceberg,” and stressed the need for a comprehensive probe into a range of serious hazards that persist at the plant.
“People here have lost their fingertips because we don’t have protective gloves, or gotten their toes crushed because machines don’t have the necessary guards,” said Cynthia Harper, 55, a production worker at the Fuyao plant. “The company should be doing everything it can to make the plant safe, but it has only ignored us. We can’t stay quiet any longer, so we are calling on the federal government to hold the company accountable.”
The workers’ complaint details more than 30 different health and safety hazards, including:
- Fire Hazards: The plant is equipped with burning hot furnaces and workers regularly handle highly flammable materials, yet few workers have ever seen an evacuation plan in the event of a fire, and the plant has never conducted an evacuation drill. Exit signs throughout the plant are incorrect and lead to dead ends with no way out.
- Electrocution Risks: Workers must wade through standing water that regularly accumulates on the plant floor near electrical wires and pedal switches. Power lines are also found lying across the ground in the way of moving equipment, including cranes that could hit the lines and spark an electrical fire.
- Laceration Injuries: Workers routinely suffer serious cuts, often requiring stitches, from sharp knives used to trim excess plastic from windows after lamination. The plant’s management has refused to provide cut-resistant gloves after repeated requests from workers, and has failed to provide kits to clean up blood spills after cuts do occur. In the past month alone at least six workers have suffered serious cuts.
Other Hazards: Workers lack proper respiratory gear to protect them from exposure to silica that is pumped into the air in certain parts of the plant; conveyer belts and other equipment throughout the plant lack guards to protect workers from injury; and as the plant adds more production lines, aisles are becoming congested and are routinely blocked by forklifts and other transport vehicles.
The Fuyao plant, which opened in 2014 at the site of a former GM facility, has received an estimated $14 million in subsidies from the state of Ohio, yet jobs at the factory are much less safe and pay lower wages than the ones that once helped build Ohio’s middle class. Fed up with the company’s refusal to address wide-ranging hazards throughout the plant, workers at the Fuyao factory have started organizing with the UAW to win good jobs and a voice at the workplace.
“Many people assumed the Fuyao plant would be a boon to the community when it opened, but those of us who report to work here every day feel like we’re holding our lives in our hands because the company refuses to make the plant safe,” said Nicholas Tannenbaum, a production worker at Fuyao Glass. “Fuyao owes its workers and our community a safe factory. The federal government needs to look closely at the full range of safety risks throughout the plant, and we’re going to continue speaking out until the plant provides good, safe jobs that people across Moraine deserve.”
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