Worker's Amputation in Textile Machine Carries $103,950 Penalty

OSHA's Fort Worth Area Office began its investigation Sept. 20 following a report that an employee's arm was pulled into the rollers of an operating textile machine while the employee was cleaning fibrous material out from under the machine.

OSHA has cited Hobbs Bonded Fibers Inc. for one willful and five serious safety violations after an employee reportedly suffered an amputation at the company's facility in Waco, Texas. OSHA's Fort Worth Area Office began its investigation Sept. 20 following a report that an employee's arm was pulled into the rollers of an operating textile machine while the employee was cleaning fibrous material out from under the machine. Proposed penalties total $103,950.

The willful violation is failing to ensure that shaft ends were guarded and keyways covered and machine guarding was provided for rotating belts, pulleys, chains, and sprockets to prevent contact with pinch points.

The serious violations include failing to ensure an exit route met height/width requirements and was not located in a high-hazard area, provide specific lockout/tagout procedures to verify the control of energy, and train workers in relevant lockout/tagout procedures when their job assignments were changed.

"Hobbs Bonded Fibers failed to ensure that proper lockout and tagout procedures for hazardous energy sources were followed," said Jack Rector, OSHA's area director in Fort Worth. "It is the employer's responsibility to safeguard the workplace for employees. No worker should have to suffer what this worker did in an effort to earn a paycheck."

In June 2011, OSHA cited Hobbs with 29 serious violations carrying $161,100 in penalties for exposing workers to a variety of workplace hazards. The company has contested these citations and penalties.

The company, which employs about 210 workers, specializes in the development and manufacturing of nonwoven products for industrial and consumer markets.

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