Partial Amputation at Wind Turbine Plant Carries $164,000 in Penalties

The inspection was initiated after an employee sustained a partial amputation of two fingers and a broken wrist in November 2010.

OSHA has cited Vestas Towers America Inc. in Pueblo, Colo., for one willful and 23 serious safety and health violations following a comprehensive inspection of the wind turbine manufacturing plant. The inspection was initiated after an employee sustained a partial amputation of two fingers and a broken wrist in November 2010. Proposed fines total $164,000.

"Vestas Towers America failed to provide its employees with a safe and healthful workplace," said John Healy, OSHA area office director in Englewood. "The numerous hazards uncovered during this investigation are totally unacceptable."

The willful violation addresses the deliberate removal of support equipment while welding sections of wind towers together, which caused the sections to slide and resulted in the amputation injury.

The serious violations address employee exposure to hazards associated with improper machine guarding, damaged electrical equipment, improper forklift operations, a lack of guardrails, inadequate worker egress, improper use of ladders, a lack of personal protective equipment, and not training workers on the use of hazardous chemicals.

This inspection was conducted at the same location where an employee of Transportation Technology Services was crushed between a forklift and a rail car while loading sections of wind towers for shipment in October 2010. That company, along with Vestas Towers America, were issued serious citations relating to that incident.

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