Worker's Arm Laceration Leads to New York Recycler's $61,000 Fine

The recycling facility located in Buffalo, N.Y., was cited for hazardous energy control (lockout/tagout) and bloodborne pathogen hazards, among others.

OSHA has cited Buffalo Recycling Enterprises LLC for 15 alleged violations of workplace health and safety standards following an Oct. 7, 2010, incident in which an employee's arm was severely lacerated when it became caught in a conveyor belt that activated while he was trying to clear a paper jam.

The recycling facility located in Buffalo, N.Y., was cited for hazardous energy control (lockout/tagout) and bloodborne pathogen hazards, among others.

"These citations illustrate two primary workplace safety and health concerns: traumatic injury from being caught in machinery that wasn't properly shut down and locked out, and potential exposure to disease from inadequate precautions against blood and sharps," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "Both of these hazards can be addressed by equipping employees with knowledge and tools to minimize work-related hazards and help them do their jobs safely."

OSHA's inspection determined that the conveyor had not been de-energized and had its power source locked out before the employee attempted to clear the jam, and that the area supervisor had not ensured that the employee was clear of the hazard before activating the machine.

The inspection also found that neither the employees who cleaned up the worker's blood after the accident nor those whose duties involve the sorting and disposal of needles and other potentially infectious sharps had received training in bloodborne hazards. In addition, the facility's bloodborne pathogen program had not been reviewed and updated, annual refresher training had not been provided to workers, the hepatitis B vaccine was not made available, and sharps were disposed of improperly.

Finally, the facility did not develop and implement a monitoring program for noise exposure when required.

These conditions resulted in the issuance of 10 serious citations with $60,000 in fines. Five other-than-serious violations, with $1,000 in fines, were cited for incomplete illness and injury logs.

"One means of preventing hazards such as these is for employers to establish an injury and illness prevention program through which workers and management continually work to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

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