Arcadia (WQOW) - The largest furniture manufacturer in the world is facing possible fines of $1.76 million for unsafe working conditions.
According to OSHA there have been more than 1,000 work-related injuries at the Ashley Furniture plant in Arcadia, which is about an hour south of Eau Claire.
Those alleged injuries happened in the last three and a half years and included fractured skulls, broken arms and crushed hands.
According to a recent investigation, OSHA says 100 of those injuries were on hazardous machinery, and some of those even resulted in amputations.
"Arcadia would be lost without companies like Ashley," says John Kimmel, the Mayor of Arcadia.
Many community members consider Ashley Furniture an anchor of employment in the city. "I've always known Ashley to be a world class company. They strive for excellence, they strive for setting the example and they've always done that in every interaction that I've had with them,” says Kimmel.
But a recent investigation by OSHA claims the working conditions there aren't safe. OSHA says 1,000 employees have been injured there in the past three and a half years.
Mark Hysell, the Area OSHA Director, says, "That's a significant amount of injuries. In this particular inspection we found that in each and every time an employee was injured, the employer, Ashley Furniture identified that it was the employees fault."
OSHA claims the company was notified about heavy machinery that didn't meet federal standards during the investigation but continued to use it anyway. Hysell says, "It's unconscionable that employees are disciplined for reaching into moving equipment time and time again and injuries that have happened on the same pieces of equipment on multiple occasions."
Kimmel says, "I know people who were employee numbers down in their 40's and 50's, they've been there since the 1970's. And you don't get commitment like that, you don't get longevity like that from the employees side if there is something wrong."
WQOW News 18 spoke with a community member Monday whose husband works at Ashley and says there are very strict procedures for safety. She believes it's up to the individual whether to follow them.
OSHA tells News 18 the company has fifteen working days to settle the fines and come to an agreement to increase safety moving forward. If Ashley Furniture contests, it would ultimately go to trial.
In a statement Ashley said it strongly disputes the allegations made against them.
Ashley Furniture's full response can be found here.
View the current citations here.
Arcadia (WQOW) - In three and a half year period, employees at Ashley Furniture Industries Incorporated, in Arcadia, experienced more than 1,000 work-related injuries, according to the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).“Ashley Furniture has created a culture that values production and profit over worker safety, and employees are paying the price,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said. “Safety and profits are not an ‘either, or' proposition. Successful companies across this nation have both.”