OSHA slaps Ashley Furniture with massive fine

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. $1.76 million for racking up 1,000 workplace injuries over a period of three and a half years in its Arcadia, Wis., plant.

According to an OSHA release, last summer, one employee lost three fingers in an accident involving a woodworking machine, and at least 100 other injuries were reportedly caused by similar machinery. An OSHA inspection after the accident identified “12 willful, 12 repeated and 14 serious safety violations.”

Since 1982, Ashley Furniture has been the subject of 33 federal OSHA inspections that resulted in citations for 96 serious, four repeat, and 38 other-than-serious violations. Four inspections were initiated after finger amputations.

Ashley is a global furniture manufacturer with revenues of $3.85 billion as of October 2014 and is ranked by Forbes as the 117th-largest private company in America. It operates 30 locations and employs about 20,000 workers across the country.

Ashley Furniture representatives sharply dispute the agency’s findings, calling the penalties “grossly inappropriate and overzealous.” The company plans to fight the charges, saying they are “allegations” and not “a finding of fact,” and that its incidence rate has actually dropped by 14% in the last three years, with most reported injuries being muscle strains and sprains.

The company has 15 business days to respond.