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Superior company fined for safety violations

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration fined a Superior manufacturer $25,800 for what inspectors deemed 19 serious and 11 more minor violations of federal work safety laws.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration fined a Superior manufacturer $25,800 for what inspectors deemed 19 serious and 11 more minor violations of federal work safety laws.

The 155-employee Genesis Attachments originally was fined $54,975. As often happens with OSHA, the government whittled down the fine to $25,800 after company officials agreed to a timeline to correct all the problems.

Violations were gauged as "serious" if the lack of safety precautions could potentially lead to a serious physical injury. The list of serious violations included a lack of guard rails in some spots, Hepatitis B vaccine not provided to everyone who should have access, and spraying being done in areas without proper ventilation.

"That's not indicating it was likely to happen," said Carl Schmuck, assistant area director for OSHA's Eau Claire office, which oversees Douglas County companies.

Schmuck, who declined to speak specifically about Genesis Attachments because the case remains open, said while a $54,975 fine may seem large, that's mainly because there are so few large-scale manufacturing companies in the area for OSHA to inspect.

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Genesis Attachments, established in 1997 as a small manufacturer of shears for the recycling industry, designs and manufactures attachments such as grapples, pulverizers, crackers and demolition buckets for the demolition, scrap processing and reconstruction industries around the world. The company was purchased in 2006 by New York-based Dover Corp.

While the initial inspection period was in February, and fines were issued July 30, the company has in some cases until early next year to correct violations, according to OSHA documents.

Certain companies are chosen for inspection, Schmuck said, based on a computer program that randomly selects companies who report higher rates of injury than their industry peers.

Bruce Bacon, general manager and co-founder of Genesis Attachments, said his company was reporting an injury rate of around 15 out of roughly every 100 employees, compared with around 12 per 100 for the rest of the industry. Because of improvements to safety independent from OSHA's visit, the company has half as many injuries this year compared with last year, Bacon said.

"Our safety record now is well below the national average," Bacon said.

Injuries include accidents as small as a cut finger or a fiber in the eye.

Bacon said since Genesis is a $65 million company, the costs associated with making all these safety upgrades shouldn't be difficult to absorb.

He said although it was disappointing OSHA discovered so many violations, he was pleased the net affect is a safer working environment.

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"I think that while we believed we were a safe workplace, frankly, I'm glad OSHA came in," Bacon said. "If it prevents one injury, that fine is no problem. It's money well spent."

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