Two Workers Injured in Rotating Equipment, Recycler Fined $70,000

The employees were performing maintenance work inside a large rotating drum used to sort scrap material for recycling when the drum activated, injuring them.

OSHA has cited Prolerized New England Co. LLC, doing business as Schnitzer Northeast, for 10 alleged serious violations of workplace safety standards at its Everett, Mass., recycling facility, where two workers were injured. Proposed penalties total $70,000.

The employees were performing maintenance work inside a large rotating drum used to sort scrap material for recycling when the drum activated, injuring them. OSHA's Andover Area Office conducted an inspection in response to the September incident and identified several serious deficiencies in the facility's hazardous energy control procedures, which should ensure machines are deactivated and their power sources locked out before employees perform maintenance work. In this case, the procedures were incomplete and not clearly communicated, training was inadequate, and the procedures were not reviewed to ensure that they were effective and understood by the employees.

The inspection also found that the employees were not trained to work in confined spaces, such as the drum, and were not provided a hot work permit for welding performed in the drum. Finally, the employees were exposed to the hazard of falling into the drum through an unguarded chute opening. OSHA assessed the maximum fine of $7,000 for each of the violations, for a total of $70,000 in fines.

"The unexpected startup of machinery during maintenance can injure or kill workers in seconds," said Jeffrey Erskine, OSHA's area director for Essex and Middlesex counties. "Preventing this hazard requires a combination of effective hazard control procedures, training, and diligence to ensure that the proper safeguards are in place, in use and understood by workers."

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    July/August 2019

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