Worker's Eye, Facial Injuries Lead to Firm's $175,500 Fine

An inspection was opened after OSHA learned that a worker sustained serious eye and facial injuries when the grinding wheel of the portable grinder he was operating ruptured and kicked back in his face.

OSHA has cited Spincraft in North Billerica, Mass., for 38 alleged violations of workplace safety standards. An inspection was opened after OSHA learned that a worker sustained serious eye and facial injuries when the grinding wheel of the portable grinder he was operating ruptured and kicked back in his face. Inspectors found that the grinder was not guarded or set up properly, and steps had not been taken to ensure that it was operated at the proper speed. The metal fabrication plant faces a total of $175,500 in proposed penalties.

"This is exactly the type of needless injury OSHA standards are designed to prevent," said Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties in Massachusetts. "Portable hand tools are just as dangerous as large machinery if they are not properly maintained and used."

The inspection also uncovered other hazards throughout the plant, including obstructed exit access, improper propane storage, failure to inspect cranes on a frequent and regular basis, failure to inspect crane running ropes and test crane upper limit switches, a lack of hazard communication training and numerous electrical hazards, as well as unguarded ladderway openings, floor holes, and open-sided floors and platforms. A total of 32 serious violations carrying $173,000 in proposed penalties were cited.

"The sizable penalties proposed here reflect both the severity of the grinder hazards as well as the breadth and range of additional mechanical, electrical, and other hazards found throughout the plant," added Erskine. "Left uncorrected, these hazards expose employees to the dangers of falls, electric shocks, crushing injuries, slipping and tripping hazards, and being unable to exit the workplace swiftly in the event of a fire or other emergency."

Six other-than-serious violations with $2,500 in fines were cited for undocumented energy control procedures and additional machine guarding, crane, electrical and hazard communication issues.

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