OSHA launched an investigation at Ashley after a worker lost three fingers last July while operating a woodworking machine without required safety mechanisms in place, OSHA said. The agency said more than 100 other injuries at Ashley were caused by similar machinery.
OSHA said its investigators identified 38 safety violations at Ashley, including 12 that were “willful” — violations committed “with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.”
Another 12 were repeat violations. All told, OSHA cited inadequate protection on 37 different machines, including a dozen saws.
Some of the citations allege lack of safety guards. Most involve “lockout” issues, with OSHA saying Ashley failed to ensure that machines wouldn’t unintentionally start while workers changed blades, bits and other tooling.
Ashley knew the protections were required but “chose not to follow those requirements in the interest of production,” Hysell said in an interview.
He called Ashley’s violations “egregious.”
It’s important to remember that Scott Walker’s “job creation” agency WEDC had previously given Ashley Furniture a $6 million tax credit that didn’t require the company to actually create any jobs.
The board overseeing the state’s flagship job-creation agency has quietly approved a $6 million tax credit for Ashley Furniture Industries with a condition allowing the company to eliminate half of its state workforce.
As approved by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. board, the award would allow the Arcadia-based global furniture maker to move ahead with a $35 million expansion of its headquarters and keep 1,924 jobs in the state.
But it wouldn’t require Ashley to create any new jobs, instead granting the company license to lay off half of its current 3,848 Wisconsin-based workers in exchange for an enterprise zone tax credit, one of the most valuable and coveted state subsidies.
It’s also notable that just two weeks after Scott Walker’s WEDC voted to give Ashley Furniture a $6 million handout, the company’s owners gave Gov. Walker a $20,000 campaign contribution.
This is Scott Walker’s Wisconsin.