BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — Arkansas-based United Industries has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for eight violations from March 2018 to July 2019.
The polystyrene foam manufacturing company has paid more than $43,000 in penalties, according to OSHA reports.
On Wednesday, December 4, a massive fire erupted at the privately-held company that sent intense thick, black smoke into the sky and could be seen as far away as 20 miles from downtown Bentonville.
Bentonville Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Boydston said once things were under control on the day of the fire they were in contact with OSHA regarding if any injuries happened as a result of the incident. “No one was injured and that’s all I know regarding OSHA’s involvement,” said Boydston.
Several fire crews from surrounding cities helped in extinguishing the fire, along with the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) for Benton County. “That agency [OEM] ensured all the proper people and agencies were notified,” said Boydston. Those agencies included the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the Fire Marshall.
The cost to put out the fire has yet to be determined. “That’s a few weeks out,” said Boydston, “but we will amass that information and include it in a report.”
OSHA INSPECTION DETAILS/VIOLATION AMOUNTS PAID:
An informal settlement of $13,502 was reached on October 1, 2019, for three violations ( 1416615.015). On, or about, July 17, 2019, OSH ACT of 1970 Section (5)(a)(1): The employer did not furnish employment and a place of employment which were free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees that were exposed to crushed by hazards; Employees operated a Toyota forklift without a seatbelt or restraint to protect the employees from being ejected and crushed by the equipment; Control of hazardous energy; bloodborne pathogens.
An informal settlement of $12,000 was reached on April 24, 2019, for one violation (1372095.015) that was opened on January 16, 2019, for general requirements for all machines.
An informal settlement of $600 was reached on April 2, 2019 (1304508.015), for a record-keeping violation.
An informal settlement of $16,963 was reached on November 29, 2018, for three violations (1304931.015). On March 14, 2018, employee #1 was starting the machine for operation. He identified grease on a roller and reached in with a rag to remove the grease. The rag became caught in the running rollers and pulled the employee’s right hand into the machine. Two of his fingers were crushed and amputated. The machine stopped when the employee was pulled into the panic bar; Control of hazardous energy; General requirements for all machines and guarding of portable powered tools.
United Industries was founded by Don Ferm in 1980. The company manufactures styrofoam products — foam core boards are produced under UltraBoard, according to the company’s website. Mark Ferm was appointed as CEO in 2017 and succeeds his brother and former CEO, John Ferm.
The business is located at 1900 E. Central Avenue.
KNWA reached out to CEO Mark Ferm for comment and have yet to hear back.