Workers Battle 13 Fires in 2 Years as Employers Disregard Fire Safety Measures in Lieu of Profits

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited a Clayton, Ohio-based company with proposed penalties of $271K on the grounds of exposing workers to fires and failing to train them on initial stage fire identification and the use of fire extinguishers.

The citation comes because of a tip-off from a local fire department after they were called on-site 13 times in just the last 2 years to respond to fires that broke out at the automotive part manufacturing plant.

The frequent fires at Woodbridge Englewood Inc. ­– which goes as Hematite Inc., were caused by the polyethylene material used for making automotive parts catching fire. The highly flammable material would burst into flames in the ovens while being heated to produce molten plastic for vehicle parts. Employees were forced to use portable fire extinguishers to douse the fire or minimize its spread until the sprinkler system activated. 

Investigations by OSHA further revealed that company management encouraged workers to employ fire extinguishers to subdue the blaze rather than wait for the sprinklers to activate. This practice cut down repair costs and production times but put Hematite workers at serious risks related to fire hazards. The auto-parts manufacturer now faces one willful and nine serious federal safety violations with proposed penalties of $271,403.

Although the incident occurred at their Clayton-Ohio facility, Woodbridge Englewood Inc., has corporate headquarters in Ontario, Canada, and automotive headquarters in Troy, Michigan. The corporation employs 7,500 workers in 50 different locations across 10 nations, providing material technologies for usage in automotive, commercial, recreational, construction, packaging, and health care products.

OSHA Area Director Ken Montgomery in Cincinnati in his statement regarding the incident advised that "The company must immediately review its emergency action plans and the process for storing and handling flammable materials. Incorporating training and protective measures will help minimize fires and protect workers on the job." 

Risking Workers’ Safety and Health

Willful ignorance of safety guidelines and taking ‘shortcuts’ when it comes to workplace health and safety procedures due to companies’ prioritizing profits has time and again led to employees facing hazardous situations and, in some cases, even death. Hence, OSHA, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have in place regulations and standards to safeguard employees at the workplace and while carrying out potentially hazardous work tasks. Furthermore, safety-training organizations like ours (HAZWOPER-OSHA Training) continuously work towards increasing awareness of safe work practices through tailored training courses related to Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) and other hazardous materials (HAZMAT) such as asbestos and silica, as well as safety aspects such as fall protection, fire safety, and more; simply because saving lives matters! 

In 2020 alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recorded 2.7 million cases of work-related injury and illness reported by employers (2020). This figure does not include numerous unreported workplace incidents that occur on a daily basis across industries in America. 

When statistics bear witness to the scale of the issue, the importance of health and safety training multiplies. Employers must ensure workers proactively receive the required safety training for the work they do and maintain updated safety training certifications as mandated by OSHA, the DOT, and other regulatory agencies. Companies must also implement actionable emergency plans for emergencies such as fires, chemical spills, or other contaminations while encouraging workers to complete all necessary training required to safely undertake their job tasks. 

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Enroll now and become an active part of OSHA’s and other regulatory agencies’ nationwide efforts to minimize occupational injuries, illnesses, and deaths. 


  • OSHA. (2022, September 01). Citation and Notification of Penalty. Woodbridge Englewood Inc. DBA Hematite Inc. Website. https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/OPA/newsreleases/2022/09/OSHA20221791.pdf 
  • OSHA. (2022, September 06). OSHA News Release - Region56. Ohio auto parts manufacturer cited for 10 federal safety violations after workers battle 13 fires in 2 years in plastic molding plant. Website. https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/region5/09062022 
  • BLS. (2021, November 03). Employer-Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, 2020. Website. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/osh.nr0.htm 
Published on: September 16, 2022