Florida Distributor Fined Following Amputation of Worker's Arm

Penalties for the citations total $239,000.

OSHA has cited Prologix Distribution Services-East LLC with 14 safety and health violations following an incident in which a worker suffered an amputation at the company's Doral, Fla., facility.

OSHA began a safety investigation in August 2010 following a report that an employee had his right arm amputated at the elbow after he was trapped in a machine. In September, the agency began a separate inspection focused on health-related concerns at the plant.

"Employees should not have to risk their lives for a paycheck," said Darlene Fossum, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale. "This amputation would not have occurred if the company had been following proper safety procedures and maintaining its equipment."

Penalties for the citations total $239,000. Following the safety inspection, OSHA cited Prologix for three willful violations carrying a proposed fine of $210,000. The violations include exposing employees to being caught in moving machinery parts due to a lack of procedures to lock out accidental energy start-up, failing to provide employees with training related to lockout safety procedures, and allowing access guard doors to remain fully open while machinery is being operated. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Eight serious safety citations, with $25,500 in penalties, have been issued for allowing materials to accumulate around equipment and under the conveyor belt, storing propane indoors, failing to conduct annual inspections of lockout procedures, using a forklift truck with a broken propane strap, failing to maintain equipment in good working order, and exposing employees to electrical hazards in three separate situations. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA's health inspection resulted in one serious citation with a $2,500 penalty for exposing workers to an explosion hazard from combustible paper dust contained within the ductwork; one other-than-serious citation with a $1,000 penalty for failing to include descriptions of incidents when recording them in the OSHA 300 logs for years 2007 through 2010; and one other-than-serious citation with no monetary penalty for failing to develop and implement a written respirator protection program for an employee emptying paper dust collection bags. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

Prologix Distribution Services specializes in magazine and book distribution and recycling unused surplus magazines and books by shredding and baling them. Prologix is owned by The News Group, a periodical wholesaler with about 33,000 employees in North America.

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