Leather Finisher Fined $105,300 Following Worker's Hand Injury

OSHA has cited Pearl Leather Finishing Inc. for 20 alleged violations of workplace health and safety standards at its Johnstown, N.Y., plant. The company, which supplies finished and cut leather products, was cited following an October 2010 incident in which an employee's hand became caught in an embossing press. Proposed penalties total $105,300.

OSHA's inspection found that the press lacked adequate guarding which would have prevented workers from coming in contact with its point of operation. The inspection also identified several other instances of unguarded or inadequately guarded machinery as well as a lack of procedures, tools, and training to ensure that machines were shut down and their power sources locked out before employees performed maintenance on them.

"This case is a stark example of the devastating consequences to workers when adequate machine guarding is absent," said Edward Jerome, OSHA's area director in Albany. "Had the press been effectively guarded this injury would not have occurred. Pearl Leather Finishing must take complete, prompt, and effective action to correct these hazards and prevent them from recurring."

Additional hazards identified during the inspection included lack of a hazard assessment to determine personal protective equipment needed by workers, lack of protective eyewear, lack of a written respirator program and medical evaluations, blocked fire extinguisher access, lack of a chemical hazard communication program, electrical hazards, a fall hazard, lack of a load rating for an overhead storage area, and excess pressure for a compressed air hose. OSHA issued 19 serious citations for the violations, with $104,400 in proposed fines.

The company also was issued one other than serious citation, with a fine of $900, for inaccurately recording an injury.

"A key tool in addressing and preventing hazards such as these is for employers to establish an injury and illness prevention program through which workers and management work together on an ongoing basis to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions in the workplace," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

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