Ashley Furniture pays settlement in safety case

Posted at 7:54 PM, Jun 08, 2016

ARCADIA, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin-based Ashley Furniture has agreed to pay $1.75 million to settle alleged safety violations at four of its plants, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Wednesday.

Ashley Furniture entered into a corporate-wide agreement aimed at protecting workers from machine hazards, the agency said. The agreement also resolves all pending citations at the company's plants in Arcadia and Whitehall, Wisconsin, and in Ecru and Ripley, Mississippi.

Under the settlement, Ashley will retain a vice president for safety, implement safety measures to protect employees and submit annual status reports to OSHA during the two-year agreement. The company also will correct all of the cited violations, OSHA said.

"With this settlement, Ashley Furniture is taking important stapes to change its culture, invest in its employees and work with OSHA to make significant changes to protect the safety and health of workers," U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said in a news release.

Ashley said the agreement allows the company to move forward while focusing on its employees and the furniture business.

"Safety is a key value and something we at Ashley take very seriously. In the past five years we have spent over $67 million on modern manufacturing equipment and safety initiatives with the goal of improving the working environment for our employees," Ashley said in a statement.

OSHA said the settlement emphasizes employment involvement and management commitment to implementing the machine safety program.