FURNITURE AND FIXTURES MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY
WORKER SAFETY AND HEALTH IS A PRIORITY FOR MIOSHA IN
WHICH REPORTS AN INJURY & ILLNESS RATE OF 16.1
The second MIOSHA strategic plan, for Fiscal Years 2003 through
2008, continues to focus program resources toward specific industries
and types of injuries and illnesses. The goal is to reduce injury
and illness rates in the targeted areas by 20 percent by the end
of the plan.
The Furniture and Fixture industry, SIC 25/NAICS 337, is one
of the industries identified in the plan. In Michigan, it is estimated
that nearly 45,000 people work in the furniture and fixture industry
at more than 425 establishments, which includes both wood and
metal products. The work performed by this industry is labor intensive
and includes cutting, assembling, sanding and finishing, painting
and upholstering. The 2000 Michigan survey of occupational injuries
and illnesses reports the total injury and illness case rate for
the industry is 16.1, the fourth highest in the state.
Michigan's reputation as a producer of high quality furniture
and fixtures goes back many decades and includes household furniture,
mattresses, cabinets, and office and store furniture and fixtures.
"Made in Michigan" has long meant made with excellent
workmanship, pride and quality. It is also critical that it mean
made with the well-being of employees as a top priority.
Furniture Industry Inspections
Looking back five years, MIOSHA has conducted more than 150
inspections in the furniture and fixtures industry, citing 1,454
violations and assessing over $316,300 in penalties. Of the violations
cited, there have been two Willful, 658 Serious, 781 Other, and
10 Repeat violations and three Fail-to-Abate notices. A "repeat"
means the same rule was cited within the past two years.
The MIOSHA investigations have included reviewing accidents
where employees have been seriously injured, such as the following
- A general laborer, with four months experience in the woodshop,
was operating a shaper to round the corner of a mouse pad when
he came in contact with the shaper receiving a severe cut to
his right hand little finger. The employer was cited for failing
to train a new employee on the procedures, hazards, and safeguards
of the job, and failing to provide a guard for the shaper.
- A press operator, with four months of experience on the job,
had the fingers of his left hand amputated while performing a
bending operation using a press brake. The company was cited
for inadequately checking the pull out device used as the point
of operation guard on the press brake.
These accidents are examples of the hazards faced by workers
in the furniture and fixture industry, and the need for diligent
attention to ensure worker safety. Below are the most frequently
identified MIOSHA violations during the past five years.
A variety of rules addressing machine guarding were identified
during MIOSHA safety inspections, making this the most significant
hazard category. Approximately 290 machine guarding violations
have been cited including those contained in General Industry
Safety Standards Part 1, General Provisions; Part 1A, Abrasive
Wheels; Part 7, Guards for Power Transmission; Part 11, Polishing,
Buffing, and Abrading; Part 26, Metalworking Machinery; Part 27,
Woodworking Machinery; and Part 24, Mechanical Power Presses.
Lack of adequate point of operation guarding, unguarded pinch
points, saws, grinding wheels, belts and pulleys, chains and sprockets,
and rotating and reciprocating parts are the most frequently identified
Generally, machines that run continuously and present a hazard
to employees at the point of operation are required to be fully
safeguarded in a manner that prevents the entry of any part of
an employee's body into the hazard zone during machine cycling.
General requirements also include guarding pinch points which
occur when an employee can become caught between moving parts
of a machine, between moving and stationary parts, or between
material and any part of the machine. Pinch points must be guarded
so that employees are not exposed.
Belts and pulleys must be guarded when located within seven
feet from the floor or when located over a passageway. Gears,
sprockets, chain drives, revolving and reciprocating parts must
be guarded when exposed to contact.
Electrical safety issues were cited more than 220 times at
furniture and fixture establishments. The need to guard live parts
of electrical equipment operating at 50 volts or more against
accidental activation was the most commonly cited deficiency.
This includes doors of electrical panels left open, and unused
openings in electrical panels not covered. The second most frequently
cited electrical issue was the need to assure that unused openings
in cabinets, boxes and fittings are effectively closed.
Hazard Communication-Employee Right to Know
The most frequently cited provision of the Hazard Communication
standard was the requirement that each container of hazardous
chemical in the workplace be labeled, tagged or marked with the
identity and appropriate hazards warning.
The second most frequent issue was the need for a written Right
to Know program. Often a program is found to exist, but to have
inadequacies such as a missing or incomplete chemical list due
to a change in products. Another program inadequacy occurs when
the person designated as responsible for the program changes,
but the program is not updated.
Also cited frequently was the Michigan-specific requirement
that pipes and piping systems that contain a hazardous chemical
be identified through use of a label, sign, placard, written operating
instruction, process sheet, batch ticket or other substance identification
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Lack of proper personal protective equipment or inadequate
equipment was the fourth most frequently cited standard for the
industry. The hazards of each type of job in a facility must be
analyzed to determine the need and type of appropriate personal
Some furniture and fixture workplaces have significant need
for face and eye protection due to work activities such as cutting,
sanding, finishing and polishing. Lack of appropriate eye protection
was the number one PPE issue. Attention must also be given to
ensure that new employees are trained on the hazards, duties,
and safeguards of the job prior to initial assignment.
The number one rule violation identified has been the lack
of or deficiencies in lockout-tagout procedures. Equipment and
machinery must be locked out when employees are performing servicing
or maintenance work in which the unexpected energization or startup
of the machines or equipment, or a release of stored energy, could
cause injury to employees.
The provisions of the lockout-tagout standard apply when any
of the following situations exist:
- An employee must either remove or bypass machine guards or
other safety devices, resulting in exposure to hazards at the
point of operation.
- An employee is required to place any part of his or her body
in contact with the point of operation of the machine or piece
of equipment; or
- An employee is required to place any part of his or her body
into a danger zone associated with a machine operating cycle.
Walking and Working Surfaces
Deficiencies in General Industry Safety Standard, Part 2, Floor
and Wall Openings, Stairways, and Skylights requirements were
cited more than 70 times. Most frequently identified was the need
to guard an open-sided floor or platform four feet or more above
an adjacent level with a properly constructed standard barrier.
The need to guard holes, openings and hatchways of floors and
to provide an appropriate means to gain access to another elevation
in excess of 16 inches were also frequently identified.
Requirements for worker safety while performing spray finishing
and dip tank operations has been a frequently cited area. Most
frequently identified was the need to provide an effective bond
and ground when flammable or combustible liquids are transferred
from one container to another. In addition, lack of training for
employees assigned to perform spray finishing was also frequently
Requirements for spraying areas were a concern with the need
to maintain areas to avoid accumulations of deposits of combustible
residues, which can create a hazard. Additionally, approved metal
waste cans must be used for rags or waste impregnated with spray
finishing materials and must be properly disposed of at least
Powered Industrial Trucks
Operators of powered industrial trucks must be selected, trained
and licensed by the employer following the requirements of the
standard. Lack of a valid operator permit is the most often identified
deficiency. A second frequently identified deficiency has been
the lack of wheel chocks. A highway truck and trailer must have
the brakes set and not less than two rear wheels blocked or be
restrained by other mechanical means installed in a manner that
will hold the trailer from movement when being boarded by a powered
Lack of fire exit signs, blocked exits, and failing to prevent
fire doors from being secured in an open position were the most
frequently identified issues related to requirements for means
of egress for employee use in the advent of hazardous conditions
such as fire, explosions, and natural disasters.
Welding and Cutting
Lack of providing protective devices to protect all employees
in a welding area was the most frequently identified welding and
cutting safety issue. Also frequently identified was the need
to post welding gas cylinder storage areas with the name of the
gas and a warning against tampering by an unauthorized employee,
and ensuring that welding gas cylinders are restrained to prevent
them from falling.
Most frequently identified was the need to evaluate the work
place to determine if any spaces are permit-required.
In addition to the above, ergonomics is a major concern for
this industry. Employers are encouraged to conduct an assessment
to identify jobs or work conditions that may cause undue strain,
localized fatigue, discomfort or pain. Job tasks that involve
activities such as repetitive and forceful exertions, frequent
heavy or overhead lifts, awkward work positions, or use of vibrating
equipment should be evaluated for possible ergonomic problems.
It is recommended that engineering controls be used when possible
to reduce or eliminate hazards. Ergonomically designed hand tools,
workstations, and material lifting devices can help eliminate
hazards. Designing work areas that do not require employees to
work in awkward positions, use repetitive movements or forceful
exertions can reduce the risk of cumulative trauma and musculoskeletal
Safety and Health Management System
Employers are encouraged to analyze their workplace to develop
and adopt a comprehensive safety and health management system.
Several studies, including one in Michigan, have documented the
critical difference these systems make between employers with
high injury rates and those with low rates.
Furniture & Fixtures Equipment
(SIC 25, NAICS 337)
Top Ten Rules Cited By
(October 1999 - September 2004)
- 408.10727(l) Provide guard for belt and pulley seven feet
or less above floor or platform.
- 1910.147(c)(4)(i) Develop document and utilize lockout procedures.
- 408.10034(9) Guard pinch point or other- wise protect the
employee exposed to contact.
- 4081.036(l) Assure that air pressure at discharge end of
portable air blow gun or hose be less that 30 P.S.I.G. when dead
- 40812154(l) Provide valid operator permit for powered industrial
- 408.3312(l) Assure sue of appropriate eye protection.
- 1910.303(g)(2)(i) Assure that live parts of electric equipment
operating at 50 volts or more are guarded against accidental
- 1910.305(b)(l) Assure that unused openings in electrical
cabinets, boxes and fittings are effectively closed.
- 1910.1200(f)(5) Label containers of hazardous material.
- 1910.305(g)(l)(iii) Prohibit use of flexible electrical cords
and cables as a substitute for fixed wiring of a structure.