Chicago Heights factory fined more than $145,000 for unsafe conditions, training concerns

The U.S. Department of Labor has accused a manufacturer of glassware for medical use of failing to properly train workers at its Chicago Heights factory, and is recommending $145,415 in penalties, according to a statement from the department.

In October 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration visited Gerresheimer Glass and issued penalties for failing to “provide effective information and training on hazardous chemicals” and said the company did not give employees personal protection equipment for free, according to OSHA’s records of the visit. Inspectors returned to the factory at 11th and Arnold streets in January and found several workplace hazards remain, according to the statement.

“Ignoring OSHA and industry-recommended machine safety procedures is a leading cause of injuries in the manufacturing industry,” the administration’s Chicago South Area Director James Martineck wrote. “Workers must be trained in specific safety procedures for each machine they operate or service and they should never be exposed to operating machine parts.”

OSHA recommended $145,415 in fines against Gerresheimer Glass, a German company that makes glass for medical use like syringes. The company has until later this month to either pay the fee and solve the noted issues or contest the charges.

Contesting the fee would put the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission in charge of evaluating the charges, according to a spokesman for the Labor Department.

Gerresheimer Glass did not respond to requests for comment.

The report from the January inspection said one of the machines was not shut down while it was being repaired by an employee, there were tripping hazards on the ground, workspaces were not properly maintained and staff operating machines and forklifts were not adequately trained.

The largest fine, for $88,721, was for not properly training some factory employees, an offense listed as “serious” and one that was brought to the company’s attention in the 2022 inspection, the statement said.

Gerresheimer Glass appears to no longer charge its employees to clean their personal protection equipment because that accusation from 2022 was not noted in the January inspection, said Scott Allen, a Labor Department spokesman.

If the company does not choose to pay the fine or contest it, a third option allows the company to discuss the fine with an OSHA representative, which could result in the fine being changed.