Thus far, VOSH said Goodyear has taken preliminary steps for applying for Virginia's STAR status and is considering the formal Virginia Challenge process. The latter is a three-stage process that provides participants a road map to making its work site one of the safest and healthiest in the nation, according to the state agency.
Mr. Jones said Goodyear is "progressing along with the VPP process as planned in Danville, leveraging best practices and learnings from four Goodyear sites that have achieved VPP Star Status as well as other VPP mentor organizations within Virginia."
The agreement also set out an orderly process for eliminating the more than 1,400 workplace hazards VOSH inspectors identified at Danville, according to the agency. Goodyear retained up to $750,000 in penalties to abate the hazards and assist efforts in meeting VPP requirements, it said.
"The agreement required Goodyear and the United Steelworkers to jointly prioritize each violation," VOSH said. The company and the union would assign each violation to be Category 1 (to be abated within 30 days), Category 2 (within 90 days) or Category 3 (within 180 days), it said.
VOSH inspectors found in an April 4, 2017, inspection that all Category 1 violations had been corrected except for certain lock-out/tag-out (LOTO) violations, the agency said. Goodyear asked for an extension on the LOTO violations, which the agency granted with a deadline of Aug. 18, 2017. On June 5, inspectors found that all Category 2 violations had been abated, VOSH said.
A third inspection on Sept. 19, 2017, produced a mixed bag, according to VOSH.
"The overwhelming majority of non-LOTO violations were abated," the agency said. "(But) the VOSH compliance team identified a number of issues during the third monitoring inspection, all but one of which concerned LOTO abatement."
The violations resulted in $185,000 in penalties, with $85,000 paid to the state and the rest retained by Goodyear to abate the violations and provide a LOTO-related training course for Danville employees, supervisors and managers, the agency said.
A fourth inspection on Aug. 28, 2018, identified non-LOTO issues that were potentially serious, VOSH said. Nevertheless, the agency found that Goodyear had acted in good faith throughout the abatement process, it said.
Goodyear and VOSH entered into a joint pre-citation settlement agreement on the new violations dated Jan. 28, 2019, according to the agency.
Goodyear is contesting the abatement dates, and the case remains open, VOSH said. The joint agreement will be submitted to the Danville Circuit Court for review, it said.
Mr. Jones said Goodyear has addressed all the conditions identified in the fourth inspection, including issues.
"There will never be a finish line to our safety obligations, and we continue to work hard every day to identify and remediate hazards in the workplace," he said. "Based on our recent safety performance and thanks to the engagement from all associates, our safety improvement strategy is moving us in the right direction."
Meanwhile, as part of the February 2017 consent agreement, Goodyear agreed to host three Virginia VPP Best Practices Days, VOSH said.
The first, held Sept. 13, 2017, dealt with machine guarding and hosted more than 160 attendees, according to the agency. The second, held Sept. 12, 2018, dealt with LOTO and had more than 150 registered attendees, it said. The third, on electrical and confined space hazards, will be held sometime in 2019.
"Best Practices Days give the opportunity for Danville associates to share lessons learned from their safety journey and to benchmark with other leaders in the safety field," Mr. Jones said. "It has been rewarding for our Danville team to share their experiences with peer organizations while learning from others to improve their site."
Jeff Dixon, president of USW Local 831, said the union was pleased with the progress of the joint safety efforts with Goodyear and VOSH but declined further comment.
The 53-year-old Danville plant produces medium truck and aircraft tires. Employment is 2,800 and rated capacity is 10,000 units a day.