Inspection at Alabama Plant Finds Amputation Hazards, Bloody Machinery

OSHA is proposing $59,250 in penalties against C&W Industries in Union Springs, Ala., for safety and health violations. The agency began its inspection in August 2009 after receiving a complaint about a number of deficiencies at the plant, including unguarded machinery that exposed workers to amputation hazards, insufficient training and certification for forklift operators, and deficiencies in the plant's fire prevention system. The company provides material handling systems.

After conducting a safety inspection, OSHA cited the company with one willful safety violation with a $38,500 penalty for failing to protect workers from caught-in and amputation hazards while cleaning, changing dies, and performing maintenance on press machines. The inspection revealed the employer had failed to implement lockout/tagout procedures to prevent accidental energy start-up despite being aware of its obligation to institute such a program. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

"Workers should not have to risk amputations in order to earn a paycheck," said Kurt Petermeyer, director of OSHA's Mobile Area Office. "Company management was aware of the requirements to establish a lockout program and did not take action."

Eight serious safety violations with proposed penalties totaling $13,750 also have been issued for operating an improperly guarded press brake and inadequate guarding on floor fans. OSHA found employees were exposed to struck-by hazards while operating overhead hoists and cranes, fire hazards, and tripping and slipping hazards.

A separate health inspection revealed hazards associated with failing to offer the Hepatitis B vaccination and training to workers who provided first aid response for two amputations in the facility. After an amputation a week prior, blood was not cleaned off the machine before it was placed back into operation, exposing operators to possible contamination.

Additionally, the employer has been cited for 10 other-than-serious violations with $7,000 in penalties for failing to complete incident reports for seven instances where workers sustained injuries at the facility. Other violations include failing to maintain OSHA 300 logs correctly, prepare annual injury and illness summaries, and develop and implement a Hazard Communication Program for hazardous chemicals, materials, and respiratory protection.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, ask for an informal meeting with OSHA's area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA's Mobile Area Office.

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