On Tuesday, the Wayne Independent of Honesdale, PA, reported that a local printer was facing fines of $107,100 for alleged violations of OSHA safety rules. Readers are having none of it. Online comments about the story—six when this post was written—are alike in finding more fault with OSHA than with the printer. And with but one exception, the readers bemoan the loss of U.S. business to China in the same breath as they lambast excessive regulation in this country. Clearly, S.G. Printing of Waymart, PA, has had a rough time at the hands of regional OSHA inspectors, who have been investigating conditions there since last December. A press release issued by OSHA, quoted verbatim by the Wayne Independent, says that the company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations (issued on June 9) to correct violations said to “put workers at risk for potential injury or possible death.” The 13 cited violations include four allegedly hazardous situations brought to the company’s attention in April of 2007 and again in January of 2008. Sye Gross, owner and CEO of S.G. Printing, did not return our call requesting a response. The 18-page citation, obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor-OSHA office in Wilkes-Barre, describes the alleged violations in close detail and proposes penalties for each. The four repeat violations are the most onerous, carrying fines of $74,250 vs. $32,850 for the nine “serious” violations. The citation addresses plant conditions and equipment issues including but not limited to dust accumulation, sanitation, machine shut-off procedures, employee training, lockout/tagout devices, machine guards, electrical boxes, unused openings in cabinets, control of hazardous energy, safety inspections, and the enclosure of pulleys and belts. The descriptions conjure visions of hawk-eyed hazard hunters probing every nook, gap, and cranny in the building, ready to pounce upon any condition that could be deemed non-compliant. The OSHA personnel evidently took the same unsparing view of S.G. Printing’s production machinery, finding, for example, a “potential amputation hazard” at the top of the delivery unit of a sheetfed press. This zeal to discover and penalize seems to be what Wayne Independent readers are reacting negatively to. “OSHA makes it tough, really tough in some cases and it costs a lot of money to get everything in line with them,” writes shuzzbutt, who describes himself as “a maintenance dork at a local metal shop.” But if you don’t, he continues, “you face the big fines that will ultimately make you defunct.” “I’ve been in a similar situation and it’s not always feasible to be OSHA compliant,” observes n3pkc. “At many places around here it would cost a fortune to modify equipment and processes.” As for the China connection, TheNatural vents that frustration thus: “Does China sweat this stuff? No and it practically owns the US. Who is being smarter and more protective?”