By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Mueller Industries is appealing the $683,000 fine that the Occupational Health and Safety Administration levied against it last month.
OSHA spokesman Mike Wald confirmed Tuesday the company had filed an appeal in response to the fine for safety violations.
The appeal will be reviewed by the Occupational Health and Safety Review Commission, which is an independent agency not tied to OSHA.
John Hansen, Mueller’s vice president of manufacturing, declined to talk more about the appeal.
“I have no additional comment or details,” he said. “It’s just part of the process.”
In a letter dated Feb. 9 from the Miami-based law firm of Ford & Harrison LLP, Mueller said it was contesting “all citations and penalties” levied by OSHA.
The Memphis-based company was fined on Jan. 25 by OSHA, which had conducted an investigation into a fire and explosion that killed one worker and injured two others on July 29 at the company’s Mueller Copper Tube plant in Fulton.
The company had 15 days to file an appeal, with a Feb. 12 deadline.
Last week, Hansen said in an e-mail that Mueller was focused on the safety of its employees and that “corrective actions have been completed on all but a few of the items cited by OSHA at our Fulton operations. Of those remaining, action plans are in place and are moving forward. We have met with OSHA and continue to work with them to address safety issues.”
Wald said it’s now up to OSHRC to decide when to hear Mueller’s appeal, which will be presided over by an administrative law judge.
In the hearing, each side will present its case, and the ALJ will determine if Mueller pays all or part of the fine.
OSHA cited Mueller’s Fulton operations with 128 safety violations. The company runs Mueller Copper Tube, Mueller Casting, Mueller Copper Fittings and Mueller Packaging. Mueller Copper Tube is the oldest and largest of the four plants in the complex.
Mueller Copper Tube was charged with 90 of the 128 violations and also received the bulk of the fines – $413,500.
Phillip Cason Hosch was the third person to die at Mueller Copper Tube in Fulton since April 2008.
Mueller Copper Tube also has paid at least $35,000 in fines since 2002.