Citation Appealed in Washington State Amputation Case

The penalty for the repeat-serious lockout/tagout violation was $52,800; L&I has cited the employer four times in three years for similar violations, with three of them involving a finger amputation.

A Pasco, Wash., food processing plant cited by the Washington state Department of Labor & Industries for repeated serious violations after a worker's finger was partially amputated in moving machinery has appealed the citation, L&I reported Dec. 27. According to the agency, this was the third time in three years that workers for the company, Freeze Pak, suffered amputation injuries on the job. Freeze Pak is a division of Oregon Potato Co.

The company received $92,400 in fines from the department for three repeat-serious violations and one general and two serious violations. L&I reported it began an investigation in June after the worker suffered a fractured wrist and partially amputated finger when his hand was caught in a conveyor as he was cleaning under it.

The penalty for the repeat-serious lockout/tagout violation was $52,800; L&I has cited the employer four times in three years for similar violations, with three of them involving a finger amputation. The latest investigation also found two instances where Freeze Pak did not adequately guard machinery -- a waste conveyor -- to protect employees from exposure to serious injuries. The company was cited for the same two violations in December 2014.

Two serious violations were cited for lack of a written energy control program to prevent inadvertent startup of machine or equipment and for not providing suitable tools to protect employees from hazards while working the conveyor.

L&I said as a result of the repeat-serious violations associated with an amputation injury, Freeze Pak has been identified as a severe violator and will be subject to follow-up inspections to determine whether the cited conditions still exist in the future.

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