Updated: OSHA cites, fines Guardian West plant

Updated: OSHA cites, fines Guardian West plant

Updated 10:05 p.m. Wednesday.

URBANA — Flex-N-Gate's Guardian West plant in Urbana has been cited with six new serious safety violations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Wednesday.

The violations contend the company failed to protect workers from exposure to hazardous materials and failed to provide adequate emergency response plans and training at the bumper-manufacturing plant.

Proposed fines total $41,200.

Flex-N-Gate has 15 business days from receipt of the citation and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with the agency's area director or contest the findings before an independent review commission.

Jim Woodcock, a spokesman for the company's public relations firm in St. Louis, said, "We are just learning of these citations, and we look forward to providing detailed responses to each of these unproven allegations from OSHA in the weeks ahead."

Woodcock said Guardian West considers safety and health protection essential and will work promptly with regulators to address "any legitimate concerns."

The new citation stems from an inspection that was initiated in July 2012 after OSHA received a complaint alleging workers were being exposed to high levels of hydrochloric acid following a release of the acid during refilling operations.

In announcing the citation, OSHA Area Director Tom Bielema noted the company has been previously cited. In May 2012, the Urbana plant was cited for six serious violations, and in December 2010, an inspection resulted in two serious violations.

"Manufacturers such as Guardian West, which are the subject of repeat complaint inspections, need to demonstrate a commitment to properly training and protecting workers from exposure to hazards," Bielema said in a release.

The new citation pertains to an incident on July 18, 2012, when hydrochloric acid was transferred into a bulk chemical storage tank that contained sulfuric acid.

That produced a chemical reaction that exposed a manager to released acid, according to the citations.

OSHA alleges that the employee wasn't wearing chemical-resistant or protective clothing and that the employee didn't have appropriate eye, face and hand protection.

That resulted in three violations with collective proposed penalties of $20,200.

That same day, employees responding to the chemical release disconnected a trunk line from a tanker truck carrying hydrochloric acid.

OSHA claims Flex-N-Gate failed to include evacuation routes and procedures in the emergency response and contingency plan.

The agency also claimed that the company:

— Failed to ensure that workers responding to inhalation hazards were provided with breathing apparatus for respiratory protection.

— Failed to ensure and certify that those workers were trained on adequate emergency response.

That resulted in three more violations with collective proposed penalties of $21,000.

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

Urbana-based Flex-N-Gate employs more than 12,450 people at 50 manufacturing plants and nine product development and engineering facilities in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Spain.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Sid Saltfork wrote on January 16, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Go Jaguars!!!!  Mr. Khan has a football team, a private jet, and mansions to pay for.  He needs to save money where it can be saved.  A penny here, and a penny there all adds up.  Cut corners on workers safety, and hire a new head coach.

Kindwordsonly wrote on January 16, 2013 at 3:01 pm
Profile Picture

It is not that Guardian West isn't training their employees correctly.  They have a large number of employees that do not speak or understand the English language very well.  So while they are training, they do not understand what is being said to them.  So of course they can't ask questions if they don't understand it in the first place.  Unfortunately it happens in all types of jobs at all kinds of workplaces.  This is just a large company with national recognition because of their owner and will always have people criticizing how it is ran.  You need to be able to read, speak and understand the English language to do your job correctly.

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 16, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Why are they hired if they cannot communicate in the workplace?  Are they the only workers that can be found?

Kindwordsonly wrote on January 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm
Profile Picture

Unfortunately a factory job is not a glamorous job and you have to take the most qualified individuals.  I'm not saying that can't do their job, but they may not fully understand the complete details of their job.  No one is 100% understanding  of their job.  But you have to be able to ask the correct questions to get the correct answers.

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 16, 2013 at 5:01 pm

So the non-English speakers are the most qualified?  Are they legal citizens?  What is the starting wage?

rsp wrote on January 16, 2013 at 8:01 pm

I have a family member who is from another country, who would lie and say she understands what you are telling her and she wouldn't have a clue. It's a cultural problem in a lot of cases. Don't make people unhappy, don't cause trouble. Be polite to an extreme. You should know what someone needs, they shouldn't have to  ask. It's not just what the training is it's how it's given. 

SaintClarence27 wrote on January 18, 2013 at 11:01 am

Let's just say it's not great. I believe it's minimum.

EL YATIRI wrote on January 16, 2013 at 7:01 pm
Profile Picture

You left out an important fact:  many of the workers are in the US illegaly.  They use fake SS numbers and because they are illegals they are vulnerable to many abuses.

The immigration laws are hard on the workers but let the employers off the hook.

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 17, 2013 at 9:01 am

Good comment.

woopitydoo wrote on January 16, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Having dealt with workplace injury resulting in blindness in my immediate family, this must not be taken lightly.  There are numerous resources and protection available and must be taken advantage of at all times. Whether information and equipment is not provided or the employee is not 100% informed, the employer must address this immediately before someone is seriously injured or killed.  I've attended numerous meetings where translation services were present. 

yates wrote on January 17, 2013 at 3:01 pm

So what if they are here illegally and can't speak english so well. They will work cheap and vote and isn't that really all the democrat party needs?

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 17, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Hang on to the belief that one party is bad, and the other is good if it gets you through the night.  Don't let the fact that both parties are corrupt bother you.  The two party rivalry is just an act.  It gets them elected.  Ever seen a politician leave office poorer than when he entered office?

Illegal immigrants come to the U.S. for a better life.  That is great if the citizens can afford it.  Look at the state, and local costs for medicaid, housing, lower wages, less taxes, bilingual schools, and other additional costs.  Services for the citizens, the elderly, the Disabled, the abused children, education; and payment for state, and municipal debts have been put off while services for illegal immigrants have increased.  Europe is facing the same problem.  It seems heartless, but there is only so much money.  The only ones benefiting are the employers who hire them; and they are not all democrats.  Check out the employers who hire them, and see their political donations to both political parties.


rch wrote on January 20, 2013 at 9:01 am

"Look at the state, and local costs for medicaid, housing, lower wages, less taxes, bilingual schools, and other additional costs."

Okay, let's look at that. I will present 2 scenarios to demonstrate.

1. I am an illegal immigrant living in Champaign County. I bought a car, for which I paid sales tax and registration fees to the state. When I go to the store to buy groceries and clothes, etc., I pay sales tax. I pay rent to my landlord, who pays property taxes on his property. Or I own my property, in which case I pay the property taxes myself. I am working under a false identity. My employer witholds income tax on my wages (if they are sufficient to qualify for witholdings). Because this identity is not mine and multiple people are working with this same identity, I cannot risk filing taxes at the end of the year. If I were to file taxes, my wages are low enough that I would probably qualify for a significant refund.

2. I am also an illegal immigrant living in Champaign County. I bought a car, for which I paid sales tax and registration fees to the state. When I go to the store to buy groceries and clothes, etc., I pay sales tax. I pay rent to my landlord, who pays property taxes on his property. Or I own my property, in which case I pay the property taxes myself. I am being paid cash by my employer. My employer likes this, because he doesn't have to pay his part of taxes and he can pay me less than minimum wage. If my employer did pay me on the books, I would probably be paid too little for income tax to be witheld from my check.

So what is the difference, you say, between myself and my neighbor down the street who is a citizen? Well, she qualifies for programs like section 8, LIHEAP, medical care for herself (I am only covered during pregnancy), and cash assistance from the state (all programs for which you need a valid social security number). She collects her government check, buys drugs, burdens the jail system, and qualifies for all kinds of government programs in the meantime.

The only tax that illegal immigrants may not pay is income tax, which you would probably find that their wages are low enough to get refunds anyway. Schools are paid for by propert taxes, which immigrants pay. A bilingual classroom is no more expensive than and English-only classroom. Immigrants pay all kinds of sales tax and fees which contribute to the state funds. Research has shown that any negative impact that may be attributed to illegal immigrants is balanced by the positives, like their spending power.


Sid Saltfork wrote on January 20, 2013 at 10:01 am

The negatives that you express regarding your illegal status as a citizen seem to reflect what you would have received from the government of the people if you were a citizen.  Things like Section 8 housing, LIHEAP, Medicaid, and a LINK card.  You mentioned that your idenity, SS number, is being used by multiple people.  What about the citizen who has that valid SS number?  You say that bilingual classrooms are no more expensive than English only classrooms.  What about the need to hire bilingual teachers?  Basically, your whining because you do not get all of the freebies that the lower income legal citizens receive.

You made your choice to come here, or stay here, illegally.  Don't expect the middle class Americans to feel sorry that you do not qualify for the assistance given to the lower income Americans.  The money comes from some where.  It was fine while the middle class was doing well; but we are not now.  If you do not like it, you can always go home.  No one is stopping you. 

Bob620 wrote on January 20, 2013 at 3:01 pm

                 It isnt always about the  money sometimes it is about what is fair. What about the boy from Germany that wants to play basketball and his parents paying 10,000 per year for him to attend school here? I have a friend who he and his wife is from Poland and had to wait 7 years to get a green card to come legally. I have another friend who just payed 450 dollars to have a green card renewed. These people all have jobs or businesses and are paying taxes and taking no help from the Federal or State government. Believe me they are not happy with the Illegals from any country being treated so kindly.

I got a kick out of the illegal immigrants on the local news talking about feeling like a criminal because they are driving around without a drivers license. Why dont illegals think they are criminals already when they have broken our laws to be here illegally?

rch wrote on January 20, 2013 at 4:01 pm

You seem to have missed the point. You were making the case that illegal immigrants are a burden to society. I was simply using several scenarios to point out that "I" (the purported "illegal immigrant") am less of a burden to society than many citizens are. In fact, I work much harder, sometimes two or three jobs (don't complain about that, either, because you middle classers wouldn't want my job at McDonald's or Guardian West for that matter), and do not expect to be maintained by the government.

Bilingual teachers cost money. So do English speaking teachers. As I already outlined, the property taxes that "I" pay or my landlord pays cover education for "my" children, and all the other taxes "I" pay cover any "costs" of my presence in this community.

Look at the big picture. It is easy to blame certain groups for our problems, that's what FOXNews wants you to believe... blame it on the immigrants, despite the fact that there is overwhelming evidence that they have a positive impact on our economy.

SaintClarence27 wrote on January 21, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I thought your point was pretty clear (and dead on) before any clarification, for the record. Illegal immigrants aren't the burden on the system that many present them to be.

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 21, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I do not watch FOX News.  I watch the PBS News Hour.  I am a conservative Democrat politically.  I worked for the State of Illinois for 40 plus years.  I do blame "illegal" immigrants for much of this state's, and the federal fiscal problems.  I, also, blame the employers who illegallly hire them.  The amount of sales tax paid, and property tax paid is miniscual compared to the total cost of government services to illegal immigrants.  I have no problem with immigrants who have needed skills legally immigrating to this country.  I do have a problem with illegal immigrants who have no skills other than the basic illegally entering this country seeking employment.  There are more than enough working poor citizens trying to make ends meet.  They do need governmental assistance with housing, food, and education.  When citizens are homeless in the large numbers seen now; there is no sympathy for illegal aliens receiving governmental services. 

State employees were told years ago to not ask for documentation of legal immigration.  We sat in meetings where housing assistance, medical assistance, food assistance, and educational assistance programs for "immigrants" were discussed with the orders to not ask for documentation on work status.  We were told to not report individuals using an American citizen's Social Security number.  We were told to complete Motor Voter Registration cards to be mailed to the County Clerk with no questions asked.  Please do not try to tell me that illegal immigrants have a positive impact on our economy.  I know that to not be true based on first hand knowledge.  Illegal immigration is a huge financial drain on the U.S. economy.

It is Illegal Immigration just as the term states.

CRK wrote on January 22, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Sid, while I do not agree with you on a lot of things politically, I totally agree with you on this.

45solte wrote on January 23, 2013 at 9:01 am

Are you really saying that en masse, as a group, illegal immigrants provide more to the economy than they consume? 

Many middle-classers don't take on more children than they believe they can provide for.  Some low-income people who have many children may pay taxes, but, where are the data showing that large low-income families pay in more than what they consume in services and entitlements?  Soon, middle-classers are going to exist solely for the government to support the poor.  It would be prudent for them not have any children,really, because they need to be financially responsible for the many children people without the means to care for them indulge themselves in having.  Just because legal residents and US citizens do it doesn't make it a-ok.  Does the US need to import more of the same? (Sound) immigration policy is such that it tries to prevent importing an underclass.  It makes no economic sense to do so. And, go ahead.  Freak out over the use of the terms 'poor' and 'underclass.' 

SaintClarence27 wrote on January 23, 2013 at 10:01 am

I would like to see actual numbers as to what illegal immigrants provide vs. what they consume. I haven't seen supporting numbers from either side here.

45solte wrote on January 23, 2013 at 9:01 am

If you are the economic asset to the US that you seem to portray yourself as, you have the option of pursuing a legal route of immigration to the US. You will be required to demonstrate that you have the means to be self-sufficient and that you are of an employment category that does not compromise the economic interests of American workers. Do you believe you possess some sort of special status exempting you from the rules, from standing in line like everybody else? I assume not, as that would be consistent with an extreme sense of entitlement.                                                              An additional child for the US public education system to educate costs tax payers money no matter the language of instruction. Do the math on that and then come back and say it's not costing tax payers anything. Free or reduced school meals?  The 'free' part just means that somebody else is paying for it.                                                          Do you incur medical bills at all?  Do you pay for them (or, do they go to bad debt, some of the cost of which potentially gets passed on to people who do pay for their medical services)?  Do you use charity care programs (non-profits included) to receive reduced or free medical services?                                                                                                What is the current status of ITINs? There came to be a moratorium on them after the housing market collapse.  Some connection to the ITIN (balloon) mortgage loan market not working out so well.  From 1996-2010 illegal immigrants could obtain ITINs in order to pay Federal Taxes. Nobody is forcing you into identity theft. You choose to do it.  Just like you chose to come to the US illegally.  Be an advocate for your rights all you want.  You've just got the countries mixed up.  Your rights lie in the country you are legally entitled to be in. A politically active young generation can do much for its people.  Be activists and revolutionaries in your own country.  Make it a better place with all the rights and entitlements you so clamor for in the US.