Danville, Virginia – Goodyear has reached a joint settlement with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry's Virginia Occupational Safety and Health program in connection with VOSH's investigations at the Goodyear plant in Danville following four fatal accidents at the plant during a one-year period.
Under the settlement, Goodyear will pay $1.75 million (€1.64 million) in penalties, including $1 million to the Commonwealth of Virginia and $750,000 to abate the hazards VOSH found at the Danville plant and implement a new health and safety management system.
VOSH conducted 11 inspections at the Danville plant within the last 18 months, according to a VOSH press release.
Altogether, the agency found four wilful and more than 100 serious violations at the facility, many of them related to failure to lockout and tagout potentially dangerous equipment. The wilful violations alone accounted for $1.64 million in fines, according to the attachments to the pre-citation settlement agreement signed by Goodyear and VOSH 10 Feb.
The four workers killed at Danville were:
• Jeanie Strader, 56, who was caught in machine rollers in August 2015 while trying to straighten them;
• Kevin Edmonds, 54, who was crushed between a wall and a pallet containing rubber early in 2016;
• Charles "Greg" Cooper, 53, who died in April 2016 after falling into a pit of boiling water and oil; and
• William "Billy" Scheier, 47, who was killed in August 2016 while trying to adjust a switch in a machine that had not properly been turned off.
"Goodyear is committed to working in partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United Steelworkers to continually identify hazards and improve the safety of our Danville plant," Greg Kerr, recently appointed plant manager at Danville, said in a statement.
The four fatalities at Danville were the only ones to occur at USW-organized tire plants over the past six years, according to Jim Frederick, assistant director of the USW's Health, Safety and Environmental Department.
"There is no scale to measure whether things were worse in Danville than elsewhere in the tire industry," Frederick said. "But it is safe to say there were safety issues at Danville that were not being addressed."