Ohio tile maker Nox US is facing nearly $546,000 in Department of Labor penalties for repeated safety violations and numerous worker injuries, including a finger amputation earlier this year.
Owned by South Korea-based Nox Corp, the penalties follow $1.2 million in fines waged against the company in October 2022 following 14 worker injuries at the plant since 2017, including "numerous cases of severe amputations," according to the department. The plant employs approximately 200 workers.
Nox is currently contesting the penalties related to three 2023 inspections, including two in May and one in March, according to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration spokesperson, as well as the 2022 penalty.
The company could not immediately be reached for comment about its latest penalties. OSHA has only communicated with Nox officials based in the U.S., the spokesperson said.
After an initial inspection in March and a follow-up in May 2023, the department cited Nox with 10 violations related to the facility's lack of safeguards for employees, as well as for repeatedly violating Department of Labor regulations.
OSHA conducted yet another inspection at the Fostoria, Ohio, factory in June, following a reporter of a worker suffering chemical burns. The site is Nox’s sole U.S.-based location.
"Despite repeated citations and penalties, the company continues to expose employees to dangerous hazards and allows them to operate unguarded machines,” OSHA Regional Administrator Bill Donovan said in a statement. “NOX US is failing to meet their legal responsibility to provide employees with a safe and healthy work environment, and they must change the way it operates before another employee is needlessly injured.”
Nox's safety issues landed the company in the Department of Labor's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which puts concentrated resources to inspect companies that willfully and repeatedly violate federal safety regulations. The program currently has 111 companies in it from region five, which includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, according to an OSHA spokesperson.
OSHA will remove a company from the program at least three years after verification of abatement of the violations, including paying all penalties, addressing all hazards, received no additional citations related to previous violations and has received one follow-up department inspection.
Nox's penalties are the second-highest Department of Labor fines in Ohio this year. The penalty was behind only the Cincinnati-based food manufacturer Zwanenberg Food Group, which received $1.9 million in fines in April for 11 repeated and willful violations, including a worker's leg amputation.
The tile maker's $1.2 million 2022 fine was the highest violation last year in the state, according to department data. The company has been cited at least five times since 2017.