Director: Titan turned OSHA away

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 8, 1999

Titan Tire of Natchez did bar federal inspectors from entering the plant Oct. 22, an official with the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s Jackson office confirmed Monday.

But that is not against the law, said OSHA Area Director Clyde Payne.

&uot;An employer has the right to deny entry,&uot;&160;Payne said.

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&uot;Now it’s up to the agency to decide whether it has probable cause to issue a warrant. Even then, a magistrate may disagree with that and not issue a warrant.&uot;

Payne would not say whether the agency will pursue a warrant or how long that process could take.

Dave Fines, manager of the plant, would not comment on why inspectors were barred from the plant but said Titan will not break the law.

&uot;We are dealing with issues that are very sensitive,&uot;&160;Fines said. &uot;We are talking with our lawyers, and I&160;suspect OSHA is doing the same with their (lawyers). Whatever the law is, we’ll do.&uot;

OSHA inspectors were at the plant to conduct an investigation of written complaints recently forwarded to the agency regarding safety hazards at the plant, Payne said.

He refused to give specifics about the complaints or who forwarded them to OSHA.

But he said this investigation has nothing to do with an Oct. 4 Banbury machine fire that burned two Titan workers.

Meanwhile, OSHA has finished its on-site investigation of the Banbury accident and is putting together its final report.

Earlier attempts to reach Payne were unsuccessful.