Regions Southern Virginia

State issued citations against Goodyear plant in Danville in February

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Print this page By Paula C. Squires


Virginia’s Department of Labor and Industry (DOL) has issued three citations and recommended a fine of nearly $17,000 for violations it deemed serious at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in Danville after the death of an employee at the plant last summer.

Jeanie Strader, 56, an employee of 15 years, died in an accident on Aug. 31. Since then, two other plant employees have died on the job, and a third suffered second-degree burns in an accident on Saturday.

Virginia’s Occupational Safety and Health Compliance program (VOSH) issued the citations on Feb. 25. The program is administered through the DOL, which has jurisdiction over workplace safety laws in Virginia. In one instance, VOSH cited Goodyear for violating a safety standard over the guarding of floor and wall openings and holes, for which it recommended a penalty of $2,975.

According to public records, the other two citations involved the control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), for which it recommended two penalties of $7,000 each. This safety standard covers the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment in which an unexpected start up, or release of stored energy, could harm employees. The citations, which were all classified as “serious,” are listed at the U.S. Department of Labor website, which compiles state data.

According to Jennifer Rose, safety director for VOSH, Goodyear is contesting the citations, so the case remains open. The record shows that the company contested the citations on March 16, about two weeks before a second worker, 54-year-old Kevin Edmonds, died in an accident during his work shift.

A third fatality occurred on April 12 when Greg Cooper, 52, an 18-year-employee, died at the plant. After that incident, Goodyear closed its Danville plant for several days to cooperate with a state investigation. “We’re looking into the injury that occurred Saturday as part of the investigation, which is ongoing,” said Rose.

Local news outlets in Danville have reported that a pipefitter for Goodyear suffered second-degree burns on Saturday after being scalded by steam, or a mixture of steam and hot liquid. He reportedly was Initially treated at the plant’s onsite hospital and by local medical providers, before eventually being sent to a regional burn center.

Laura Singleton, communications manager for Goodyear in Danville, said that at this time the company had no comment on the VOSH citations. "Goodyear is commited to providing a safe work environment for our associates," Goodyear said in a statement to Virginia Business.

At its corporate website, Goodyear says it received notification of 12 safety and environmental violations in 2014, which incurred $119,480 in fines. Akron, Ohio-based Goodyear is the world’s largest tire company, with plants in 11 states and six continents. The company has annual revenue of more than $15 billion.

Also involved is the investigation is North Carolina-based Local 831 of the United Steelworkers Union. It is the local union representing Goodyear employees at the Danville plant. Virginia Business called the union office for comment but was unable to reach anyone.

Goodyear is Danville’s largest employer with about 2,117 workers.

Asked how long the investigation might take into the other worker fatalities, Rose said VOSH has six months from the time it opens an investigation to issue a report with any citations. It does not have the authority to close plants, she said.

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