Worker Loses 3 Fingers in Unguarded Punch Press Accident

unguarded punch pressNew Castle, DE – A worker lost three fingers following an lockout/tagout accident involving a punch press at Wilmington Fibre Specialty Company Inc.

OSHA has cited the New Castle (DE) vulcanized fiber manufacturer for exposing employees to multiple workplace safety hazards totaling $146,152 in proposed penalties.

The violations stem from an accident in December of 2017, during which an employee at the Wilmington Fibre Specialty Company reached into the die of a press to dislodge a jam. Unfortunately, as the worker reached into the machine, he also stepped on a lever that started the machine. The die came down on the employee’s hand, resulting in the amputation of three fingers.

OSHA inspected Wilmington Fibre Specialty and found that the facility’s punch press had inadequate machine guarding and that the company failed to enforce mandated safety procedures. OSHA documented violations including inadequate machine guarding, failure to use lockout/tagout procedures to control hazardous energy, and failure to report the incident.

Additionally, OSHA cited the company for multiple maintenance failures: failure to perform maintenance, repairs and safeguards where employees were exposed to amputation hazards; failure to perform maintenance and inspections on multiple parts of the punch press; and failure to ensure employees received proper training and were competent in operating the machinery.

Wilmington Fibre Specialty was also cited for inadequate lockout tag out procedures. Lockout/Tagout procedures are written instructions detailing how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment. Implementing Lockout/Tagout, having procedures visible to the workforce, and training workers on how to safely maintain equipment all help to prevent the startup of machinery that may result in a worker injury.

The OSHA inspection also revealed machine safety failures, specifically the failure to use safety blocks. Safety blocks should have been inserted between the upper and lower dies during machine maintenance to prevent the dies from sliding down.

Lastly, Wilmington Fibre Specialty was cited for failing to report the incident. OSHA was alerted to the need for a workplace safety inspection only after noticing coverage of the amputation in local news media reports.

As stated by OSHA Wilmington Area Office Director Erin Patterson, “When lockout/tagout is not implemented and machines are not guarded, employees are exposed to hazards that can cause amputations, and other serious injuries.”

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Arm Amputated at Industrial Food Plant

Random Lake, WI – A Lakeside Foods employee had her arm amputated above the elbow Monday in an industrial accident at the Wisconsin food packager. The 30-year-old victim was taken by Fight for Life to Froedert Hospital.

arm amputatedOSHA has several standards in place to control amputation hazards in American workplaces. Approximately 3 million workers service equipment and these employees face the greatest risk of injury on the job. OSHA states that “Safeguarding is essential for protecting employees from needless and preventable injury. A good rule to remember is: Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded.”

Safeguards that control amputation hazards include machine guarding, lockout/tagout procedures and programs, application of ring guards, and installation of audio or visual awareness devices, among others.

According to OSHA, “a hazardous energy control program is a critical part of an overall strategy to prevent workplace amputations during machine servicing and maintenance activities, such as during the setting up of machines for production purposes, bypassing guards to clear jams or lubricate parts, and inspecting, adjusting, replacing, or otherwise servicing machine parts. Machine amputations occur when an employer does not have or fails to implement practices and procedures to disable and control a machine’s energy sources during machine servicing and maintenance work.”

Compliance with federally mandated lockout/tagout standards 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 UAW, 20% of the fatalities that occurred among their members between 1973 and 1995 were attributed specifically to inadequate hazardous energy control procedures.

Lakeside foods produces frozen and canned vegetables at the Random Lake (WI) facility.

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Conveyor Belt Severs UPS Worker’s Arm

conveyor belt

Loveland, CO – OSHA is opening an immediate on-site investigation of the UPS facility in Loveland (CO) after a worker’s arm was severed in an industrial accident involving a conveyor belt last Wednesday morning.

Against protocol, other UPS staff members started transporting the injured man to a hospital in a private vehicle. Emergency dispatchers were able to contact the people transporting the man and an ambulance was able to meet the vehicle holding along the highway. The injured worker was transferred into the ambulance and then taken to a local hospital.

Upon their arrival at the scene of the accident, Loveland Fire Rescue Authority (LFRA) personnel worked to extract the man’s arm from the conveyor belt, and then reunited it with the injured man via ambulance.

Conveyor belt lines at the Loveland UPS Customer Center were stopped after the accident, and the plant was expected to resume its normal evening package sorting operations.

Herb Gibson, area director of the Denver OSHA office, said that “it’s too early to determine the cause and exactly what occurred.” According to OSHA’s website, workers caught in, between, or compressed by industrial equipment comprised 7.2% of all worker fatalities in 2015.

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Lack of Machine Safety Costs Austin Worker’s Hand

Austin, TX – Austin-based nutritional supplement maker Genesis Today Inc., faces potential fines of $56,000 for not having the proper safeguards in place to protect workers from getting body parts caught in a machine. Additionally, Texas Management Division Inc., which provided Genesis Today with temporary workers, could also face a $7,000 penalty for not ensuring that moving machine parts were properly guarded to prevent serious injuries.

OSHA announced the proposed penalties and citations on Nov. 9 following an iproper safeguards chia seedsnspection initiated in May after an incident that resulted in a worker’s hand being caught in a machine and amputated. OSHA representatives were careful to say that temporary workers face the same hazards as full-time workers and must be protected and properly trained, and that the “host employer and the staffing agency are both responsible for keeping their workers safe.”

The incident at Genesis occurred when the worker fainted and fell into a machine that shells chia seeds. His hand became caught in a corkscrew apparatus at the bottom of the machine that moves the shelled seeds further down the production line. There should have been a guard on the machine to prevent anything from falling in.

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