OKLAHOMA CITY-A U.S. district judge has denied a request by the federal government to issue a preliminary injunction ordering Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. to comply with lockout/tagout standards at the Oklahoma City tire plant operated by its Dayton Tire unit. The U.S. Department of Labor sought the injunction after its Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed fining Bridgestone/Firestone $7.5 million for what OSHA claimed were willful safety violations.
The citation stemmed from an accident last Oct. 19 in which Robert Julian, 50, was killed when the tire assembly machine he was adjusting accidently turned on.
Lockout/tagout is a procedure employees follow to cut power to a machine to prevent it from activating while being serviced.
After a three-day hearing, U.S. District Judge Tim Leonard ruled May 19 the government didn't prove the workers were in immediate danger. He noted that workers at the Dayton Tire plant ``have not indicated a belief that imminent danger exists'' there.
Labor Department attorney Thomas S. Williamson Jr. said the department disagrees with the decision, claiming the firm's refusal to comply with the lockout/tagout standard has resulted in four other serious injuries at the plant.
BFS has appealed the OSHA citation and proposed fine. The government said it will pursue an expedited review of the case.
BFS said it looks forward to a prompt resolution of its appeal. ``Dayton has long operated a safe workplace and, for years, has had a comprehensive safety program,'' according to a company statement.
During the hearing, witnesses for BFS said the lockout/tagout standard doesn't apply while the equipment is in production.