WASHINGTON — General Motors agreed Monday to pay $500,000 in fines to settle what government officials described as a "pattern" of under-reporting job injuries.
In announcing the settlement, the Labor Department said the penalty is the largest ever paid by an employer for purely record-keeping, as opposed to actual job hazard, violations.
The negotiated settlement covers citations alleging that GM willfully or knowingly violated record-keeping requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration at four facilities--a GM plant in Oklahoma City, its Leeds Plant in Kansas City, Mo., its Delco Electronics plant at Oak Creek, Wis., and its service parts operation at Martinsburg, W.Va.
Unlike most recent large OSHA fines and settlements, the agreement announced Monday was reached before the government had issued any citations.
Neither OSHA nor GM officials would specify how many violations were involved.
"In terms of numbers, they simply are not available," said Jerry G. Thorn, the Labor Department's deputy solicitor. "If someone wants to calculate them from the documents, I guess they could. The settlements will be posted at each of the plants."
OSHA officials said the plants were served with the citations after the settlement was reached. However, Howard Erickson, a spokesman at GM's headquarters in Detroit, said he was not sure whether each of the plants had been served yet with the documents.
No Admission From GM
"I'm not aware of the number," Erickson said. "The alleged violations refer to record-keeping and did not compromise the safety or health of our work force. We agreed to the settlement to avoid lengthy legal proceedings."
GM did not admit any wrongdoing, he said.
OSHA spokesman Terry Mikelson said a six-month investigation by government inspectors in response to independent complaints from workers at each of the four plants "revealed a pattern of under-reporting injuries and illnesses."
Among the injuries the company failed to report or recorded improperly were fractures, burns, back strains and repetitive motion disorders, he said.
As a part of the settlement, GM agreed to bring all of its record-keeping practices into compliance with the law by October, 1988, and pay the $500,000 fine by Nov. 25.