State cites Sonoco for forklift violations

News Story
- 3 Mar 2011 ( #503 ) - Charlotte, NC, United States
2 min read
A North Carolina agency has proposed penalising a Sonoco Products Co subsidiary USD11,900 for allegedly committing two serious forklift-related safety violations.

The unit, Sonoco Recycling Inc, requested an informal conference that is scheduled for 4 March with the district supervisor in the Charlotte office of the North Carolina Department of Labor's division of occupational health and safety.

Sonoco Recycling was cited on 17 February because it "did not ensure that each powered industrial truck operator was competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely" for which the proposed penalty is USD5,600, and failed to properly examine each forklift truck "at least daily before being placed in service", for which the proposed penalty is USD6,300.

The agency inspected the Sonoco Recycling facility in Salisbury, North Carolina following a 26 August incident. An 800 lb (360 kg) bale of cardboard fell off forklift tines and crushed Maurice Jay Alexander, 40, a plant supervisor who was seriously injured and died in hospital. Alexander stepped off the forklift to make an adjustment, and the bale fell while he was in front of the machine.

The initial citation says Sonoco Recycling had not trained or evaluated one temporary full-time worker in the safe operation of Komatsu FD25D-14 and FD25T-16 models or a Toyota 8FDU25 unit.

The other citation referred to five Komatsu, TCM and Toyota forklifts being operated without suitable daily examinations and having "conditions such as inoperable backup alarms, horns, headlights and taillights; bad tyres, bad brakes, lack of fire extinguisher and transmission and hydraulic oil leaks".

The agency issues fines both to penalise an offending employer and "to get the attention of other employers with similar work environments".

Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry says in a year-end summary: "Any workplace death is a tragedy and of great concern because it affects so many people-the family, co-workers, the community and our department. We'll redouble our efforts and work even harder to prevent these accidents from happening, and we'll call on employers and employees across the state to recommit themselves to workplace safety and health in 2011."

In December, the department printed 500 copies of a two-page Forklifts and Materials Handling Hazard Alert that it developed and distributed in response to several forklift accidents.

Sonoco Recycling collects 3.5 million short tons (3.15 metric tonnes) of paper, plastic, metal and other materials annually. The subsidiary operates more than 40 recycling facilities globally and maintains strategic relationships with more than 15,000 major retailers, manufacturers and municipalities.

Sonoco Products Co, based in Hartsville, South Carolina, manufactures industrial and consumer packaging products and provides packaging services. The publicly traded firm has 315 locations in 34 countries and reported profit of USD201.1 million on 2010 sales of USD4.12 billion.
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