Byron Plant Cited in 2012 for Fire-Safety Violations | News
A federal agency cited the Southern Perfection plant in Byron last year for 15 serious health and safety violations.
That happened almost one year to the day before Thursday night's fire severely damaged the metal-working plant.
A May 3, 2012 OSHA news release says the violations included "exposing workers to combustible residues and flammable liquids... without adequate precautions to prevent fires and explosions."
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration initially fined the company $54,000 for the violations.
About two weeks later, agency spokesman Michael D'Aquino told 13WMAZ that the fine was reduced to $16,380 as part of an informal settlement.
"No citations were deleted or reclassified," he wrote.
OSHA said the violations were reported after a November 2011 OSHA inspection.
They included failing to train workers to properly use fire extinguishers and failure to inspect extinguishers, the news release said.
The company was also cited for not testing air quality in the powder coating area and for not providing protective gear for workers.
Last year, Gordon Hale, the owner and operator of Southern Perfection, told 13WMAZ that the company had already addressed the 15 violations before the fines were announced.
He said the company was expanding and that he had recently hired a safety coordinator.
He also said the November 2011 inspection was only the second time in Southern Perfection's 30 year history that OSHA paid them a visit.
Hale said that inspection came after a complaint filed by an employee he terminated for stealing.
13WMAZ is trying to get a comment from Hale. We have called him Friday at his office and home and have not been able to speak with him.
Byron Fire Chief J. D. Mosby said he was aware of the OSHA violations but would not comment further.
He said "All I can say is the cause of the fire is under investigation. ... We focus on fire safety code inspection. I am unable to comment on (OSHA citations) because that's outside of my jurisdiction."
Mosby said he's been in contact with the company about previous fire-code inspections: "We worked closely with them in the past and made recommendations. They have been very responsive to working with us on that."