Not long ago, we talked about keeping protective guards around machinery to keep employees from amputations or other injuries. In OSHA’s “Quicktakes” for the month of July, it is amazing the amount of money that companies pay for severe violations. It seems money spent on safety would be more cost-effective, as well as keeping employees safe.
OSHA fined a stamping products company $426,100, and cited the company for 27 safety and health violations, including one willful violation for failing to report two amputation injuries that occurred at the company’s metal stamping plant in Cleveland. While operating mechanical power presses in the plant before OSHA’s January inspection, two employees had fingers severed and crushed. The company was cited for a total of nine willful safety violations, which included failing to train press operators in safe work methods and failing to ensure the flywheel on the mechanical power presses were adequately guarded.
A willful health violation is one that is committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. The above company received one willful health violation for the lack of proper chemical hazard communication and training, in addition to twelve serious safety violations. Those include failing to perform a required workplace hazard assessment, ensure employees had appropriate eye protection, train employees in the use of portable fire extinguishers, conduct performance evaluations for employees who operate powered industrial trucks (fork lifts), complete annual crane inspections, ensure proper machine guarding on the shear, spot welding machines, and mechanical press, and establish die-setting procedures. They also had four serious safety violations including exposing employees to excessive noise, having improperly stored compressed gas cylinders and allowing various electrical safety hazards. They have been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. This mandates targeted follow-up evaluations to ensure compliance with the law.
A second company was fined $214,830 by OSHA, and cited the company with four safety violations, after two workers suffered amputation injuries at the company’s metal stamping facility. The company willfully disregarded the law’s requirements by failing to lock out/tag out hazardous energy sources prior to performing maintenance operations and to have point-of-operation guarding on two press brakes that caused the worker amputations in two separate incidents. They were also cited with a serious violation for failing to use safety blocks when dies were being adjusted and repaired. Before this inspection, the company had been cited by OSHA for 47 violations since 1988. They have also been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
Workers have the right to go to work and expect to return home intact. When companies show a blatant disregard for the safety of their workers, they are shirking their responsibility to those who come to perform a job without being in danger. Hopefully, by being placed in this enforcement program with regular inspections, they will wake up and start paying attention to safety, rather than fines.