Worker's Thumb Crushed in Machine, Wis. Firm Fined $105,000

On July 25, the employee's thumb was crushed while he was bending a metal part between the unguarded dies of the brake. The thumb had to be medically amputated. The company was still operating the unguarded press brake when OSHA initiated an inspection on Aug. 16 based on a referral from the state of Wisconsin.

OSHA has cited Curt Manufacturing LLC with eight safety violations, including one willful violation for allowing workers to continue operating an unguarded hydraulic power press brake after a worker was injured. On July 25, the employee's thumb was crushed while he was bending a metal part between the unguarded dies of the brake. The thumb had to be medically amputated. The Eau Claire, Wis.-based company was still operating the unguarded press brake when OSHA initiated an inspection on Aug. 16 based on a referral from the state of Wisconsin. Proposed fines total $105,000.

"Failing to have proper machine guarding in the first place, and to cease operating the power press brake in order to correct safety discrepancies following the injury of a worker, demonstrate a complete lack of regard for employees' safety and health," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire. "OSHA is committed to protecting workers on the job, especially when employers fail to do so."

The willful violation carries a proposed penalty of $70,000. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Five serious safety violations with proposed penalties of $35,000 involve failing to develop, document, and use hazardous energy control procedures for machines with multiple energy sources; conduct annual inspections of those procedures; ensure lockout devices were affixed to energy-isolating devices by authorized employees; provide point-of-operation guarding on a band saw and tube bender; and provide hand tools that permit easy material handling and prevent workers from placing their hands in machine danger zones.

Two other-than-serious violations involve failing to provide information to workers voluntarily using respirators and failing to evaluate a potential permit-required confined space.

Curt Manufacturing specializes in the manufacture of towing components and employs approximately 430 people.

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