Eight Willful Violations Cited in Machine Guarding Case

OSHA has issued $560,000 in penalties to Custom Rubber Products LLC, a Houston manufacturer, after a worker was severely injured.

Two weeks after citing a Jacksonville, Fla., company and issuing $697,700 in penalties to it in connection with a machine-related fatality, OSHA announced Feb. 28 it has issued $560,000 in penalties to a Houston company for an incident where a machine operator's arms were crushed, according to the agency’s news release. OSHA's citation alleges eight willful machine guarding violations by Custom Rubber Products LLC, a Houston company that manufactures oilfield elastomer, phenolics, and thermoset plastic products for the oilfield and industrial markets.

According to the release, OSHA's Houston North Area Office began an inspection of the plant in September 2013 in response to a complaint that a worker had been severely injured while operating an unguarded machine. "During the inspection, OSHA became aware of two other incidents that occurred previously at the facility; both involved severe injuries to employees while operating similar machinery," it says.

"In an instant, moving machine parts can crush workers or amputate fingers or limbs," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Safeguards are essential to protect workers from these preventable injuries. Employers must ensure that guards are functioning on machines that can cause these injuries, and there is no excuse for failing to provide them."

The $697,700 case earlier in February involved Wire Mesh Sales, LLC and the August 2013 death of a 32-year-old machine helper who had entered a large wire mesh manufacturing machine to retrieve a fallen metal bar and was struck and killed by a part that feeds wire into the machine's welding area. OSHA reported that a light curtain that would have automatically shut off the machine before he entered had been disabled, and it placed Wire Mesh Sales into the Severe Violator Enforcement Program, meaning it will be subject to more inspections.

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