Queensbury, NY – A worker injured while clearing a machine jam at a wood products facility in upstate NY has prompted a federal safety investigation. OSHA is citing the former RWS Manufacturing Inc. plant for seven safety violations documented during inspections in November and February, stemming from reports of an employee’s hospitalization. The wood shaving plant currently faces $59,577 in fines, and has been fined multiple times for alleged safety violations in the past.
Reports show an employee suffered a “work-related inpatient hospitalization” from a wood shaving machine where federal safety inspectors documented a lack of safety equipment of the type that would have been used when clearing a jam on the machine or performing other maintenance.
These safety devices and procedures are known as Lockout/Tagout (or LOTO). Lockout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment, and preventing the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities. OSHA requires equipment specific lockout procedures be written for each piece of equipment including any prime movers, and machinery and equipment with mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, electrical, thermal, and any other energy source.
There are approximately 3 million American workers tasked with servicing equipment. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation. In a study conducted by the United Auto Workers (UAW), 20% of the fatalities that occurred among their members were attributed to inadequate lockout/tagout procedures.
The OSHA investigation into this wood product plant marks the third time in the past four years that OSHA has fined the company over safety inspections, with a total of more than $360,000 in fines imposed during that period.
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