After Five Amputation Incidents in 14 Months, Missouri Company Faces Over $400,000 in OSHA Penalties

Inspectors found that Missouri Cooperage Company continued to commit the same violation it was cited for in 2018.

A Missouri spirits and wine barrel-making company has been fined $413,370 by OSHA for exposing its employees to amputation, noise and other safety and health hazards at its Lebanon, Missouri facility.

Missouri Cooperage Company LLC, a subsidiary of the Independent Stave Company, is facing severe penalties after OSHA inspectors visited the facility in February 2019 following an employee’s finger amputation – the fifth such amputation injury that the company reported in a 14-month period.

The inspectors cited the company for operating an unguarded chain and sprocket, the same violation that Missouri Cooperage was cited for in February 2018. The agency also cited the company for exposing employees to electrical and occupational noise hazards, failing to guard machines and implement adequate lockout and tagout procedures.

In addition, the inspectors found that the employer created a potential fire hazard by allowing dust to accumulate on floors and surfaces.

“Employers must follow the legal requirements put in place to protect workers from injuries. Anything less than that is unacceptable,” Kimberly Stille, the OSHA regional administrator in Kansas City, Missouri, said in a statement. “Employers must continually evaluate their facilities for hazards, and train employees and managers to use proper safety controls and equipment to keep their worksites safe and healthful.”

The company’s safety director, Lance Blackwell, told The Springfield News-Leader that Missouri Cooperage has cooperated fully with OSHA for many years and during the most recent inspection process.

"Missouri Cooperage currently has an accident rate that is well below the national average for manufacturers of similar size,” Blackwell told the newspaper. “In addition to our peer to peer safety program, our employee safety committees and safety incentive plans, our relationship with OSHA is important, and we share their mission of championing employee safety."

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to either comply, request a conference with the regional director or contest the findings.

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