Amputation Hazards Found at TX Rubber Manufacturer

Houston, TX – OSHA has issued fines over $500,000 for amputation hazards found at a Houston-area rubber products manufacturing facility. Federal workplace safety investigators documented machine guarding failures that could result in employee injury or possible amputation hazards at Custom Rubber Products LLC.

According to OSHA, the rubber fabrication company has “continually failed” to properly guard machinery. As a result of what were deemed “egregious” willful violations, Custom Rubber Products LLC remains on OSHA’s Severe Violator list for continuing to expose workers to amputation hazards and Custom Rubber Products was issued $530,392 in penalties. This amount represents the maximum OSHA can fine based for these health and safety violations.

Custom Rubber Products was cited for four egregious willfull violations for machine guarding and caught-in hazards. The company has been the focus of OSHA investigators since receivingamputation hazards reports of a worker injury in 2014. At that time, OSHA fined Custom Rubber Products for similar hazards. In this 2019 inspection, OSHA officials found that those hazards had not yet been addressed.

OSHA’s acting regional administrator stated that “Employers are required to assess potential hazards, and make necessary corrections to ensure a safe workplace…The inspection results demonstrate workplace deficiencies existed [at Custom Rubber Products which put] workers at serious risk of injury.”

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Willful Lockout Violations Found at LA Noodle Factory

willful lockout violationsLos Angeles, CA – An amputation at an LA noodle factory prompted a Cal/OSHA investigation resulting in $305,685 in fines for two employers. The amputation occurred in 2018 when a temporary worker was cleaning machinery and lost two fingers at JSL Foods Inc.

The injured man was a temporary worker placed at the JSL food manufacturing facility by Priority Workforce. The worker was cleaning a dough rolling machine when his left hand was pulled partway into the moving rollers, amputating two fingers on Oct. 2, 2018.

Cal/OSHA found JSL liable for one willful repeat serious violation and one willful repeat serious accident-related violation for failing to follow lockout/tagout procedures. JSL Foods has been fined $276,435 in proposed penalties for a total of seven violations. According to Cal/OSHA, JSL Foods was cited twice in 2015 for the same violations.

Three additional serious violations were cited against Priority Workforce, the employer who assigned the temporary worker to JSL Foods. Cal/OSHA found Priority Workforce failed to establish, implement, and maintain an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program, failed to ensure employees were effectively trained, and failed to ensure machinery was adequately guarded.

According to Cal/OSHA, their investigation found that “the machine had not been adequately guarded to prevent fingers from entering pinch points, [nor had it been] de-energized and locked out to prevent movement while the worker was cleaning it…Neither employer had trained the worker to follow lockout/tagout procedures before cleaning the equipment.”

Lockout/tagout procedures (also known as LOTO) provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment. Workers who are trained in lockout can use these procedures and practices to prevent injuries that might otherwise occur when machinery or equipment starts up unexpectedly during cleaning or maintenance work. Martin Technical’s certified lockout technicians and safety experts work together to provide your safety team with the most effective and accurate lockout program in the industry.

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Amputation Due to Lockout Failures Nets $160K in OSHA Fines

Picayune, MS – OSHA has fined Heritage Plastics $159,118 after finding willful violations of federal workplace safety standards during an investigation triggered by an amputation accident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration documented failures in lockout/tagout, failures to train employees on LOTO, and failures to install machine guards at the MS PVC conduit, fittings and pipe manufacturer.

A Heritage employee lost four fingers in November of last year when a mixing machine unexpectedly started while the worker was removing material from itamputation due to lockout. OSHA found that the accident was preventable and concluded that it was due to a failure to use a lockout device or properly train its workers on lockout/tagout (LOTO). Heritage was also cited for failing to install adequate machine guarding.

Lockout/tagout is a workplace safety system designed to prevent the startup of machinery or equipment that may result in worker injury. Lockout (or LOTO) procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment. To be compliant with federal energy control standards, employers must establish a lockout program and follow procedures for affixing appropriate lockout or tagout devices to energy isolating devices. Taking steps to prevent the unexpected energization, start up, or release of stored energy prevents employee injury. 
Training employees on the exact protocol to control hazardous energy is a fundamental part of a successful lockout program. Employee must be trained to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program is understood, and so that they possess the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of energy control/lockout devices.
A statement made by OSHA‘s Jackson (MS) Area Office Director emphasized how this accident could have been prevented: “Proper safety procedures, including the effective lockout of all sources of energy, could have prevented this employee’s serious injury…Employers must take proactive steps to develop and implement energy control procedures to minimize risk to their employees.”

Contact a member of our industrial safety team today to discuss how Martin Technical can improve accident prevention measures at your facility.

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Partial Amputation at Window Maker Prompts OSHA Fines

partial amputationHialeah, FL – OSHA has cited CGI Windows and Doors for federal workplace safety violations that include willful failures in machine guarding which will cost PGT Industries fines proposed to total $398,545. OSHA investigated the Florida window and door manufacturer following reports that an employee had suffered a partial finger amputation while using an unguarded punch press at their facility outside of Miami. CGI Windows and Doors is owned by PGT Industries.

OSHA cited PGT for two serious violations and two other-than-serious violations, however the bulk of the fine was for the willful violation of machine safety standards. In their announcement, OSHA stated that PGT Industries “knowingly disregarded machine guarding requirement intended to protect employees from caught-in and amputation hazards.” The Willful violation constitutes $258,672 of the proposed fine. In this case, OSHA applied the maximum fine allowed by law for the violations that can cause life-altering injury.

Federal workplace safety inspectors found guards absent on eight punch presses, a drill press, and a table saw at the CGI Windows and Doors facility. Three other punch presses were documented as having guards that didn’t cover enough area to protect workers.

The serious and other-than-serious citations were for hazards including failing to implement a program to inspect mechanical power presses and correct unsafe conditions; exposing employees to electrical hazards; failing to make sure employees wore hearing protection; and failing to develop specific procedures to verify the control of hazardous energy an industrial safety practice known as Lockout Tagout.

In response to OSHA’s announcement and the associated penalties, PGT asserted that they “share OSHA’s goal of ensuring the safety of each and every one of our team members.”

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Employee Loses Arm While Cleaning Machinery

Elysburg, PA – OSHA has proposed $112,523 in penalties after finding that lockout/tagout failures lead to an employee’s arm being amputated while cleaning machinery.

OSHA has cited Toy Factory TX LLC for workplace safety violations after investigating the circumstances that lead to an employee’s arm being amputated while cleaning machinery earlier this year. OSHA has proposed $112,523 in penalties for the company’s failure to develop acceptable procedures to prevent the release of hazardous energy; failure to apply lockout devices; and failure to train employees on lockout/tagout procedures.

OSHA’s local area office director stated that Toy Factory’s “failure to use appropriate machine locking devices resulted in a serious injury that could have been prevented.” Machine locking devices are an important part of an industrial Lockout/Tagout program. Lockout devices are mechanical means of locking a machine in a position that prevents energization of a machine, equipment, or a process. Energy-isolating devices cleaning machineryare applied to machinery during maintenance or while employees are otherwise servicing equipment to prevent unexpected startup and thereby avoid employee injury.

Nearly 3 million workers service equipment and these employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the federal 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.

Federal workplace safety inspectors determined that Toy Factory TX LLC (doing business as The Toy Factory LLC) failed to develop acceptable written lockout/tagout procedures, failed to apply lockout devices, and failed to train employees on lockout/tagout. OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures. Appropriate training ensures that the purpose and function of the energy control program are understood by employees and that employees gain the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls.

The Elysburg (PA) facility is one of several owned by Texas-based Toy Factory TX which manufactures stuffed toys intended for use as rewards and prizes at amusement parks, entertainment game centers, and crane machines.

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AL Steel Company Cited for Unsafe Working Conditions

Montgomery, AL –Sabel Steel Service Inc faces $320,261 in federal fines for unsafe working conditions, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Sabel Steel, which was honored just two years ago for its safety record by the Alabama Department of Labor, disagrees with the findings and will be meeting with OSHA to discuss.

OSHA announced the fines in November, following inspections of each of Sable Steel’s plants in May of 2018 as part of a national emphasis on amputation prevention in the workplace. In the course of these investigations, OSHA documented employee exposure to amputation risks, and failures to safely controlling the release of hazardous energy during machine maintenance or servicing.

In terms of failures to meet federal Lockout Tagout standards, OSHA inspectors found that the written lockout procedures at Sable were vague, generic, and did not state clearly how to shut down the machine, apply the lock, and restore service. Further, OSHA cited failures to conduct and document periodic inspection of the lockout/tagout (or energy control) procedures. OSHA also fined Sable Steel for failures in regard to lockout training. Employees were found to have been authorized to lockout equipment without first having been trained on how to properly perform lockout/tagout on the machines.

Additionally, OSHA’s statement claims that Sable Steel failed to provide fall protection; failed to conduct medical evaluations to determine an employee’s ability to use a respirator; and improperly stored oxygen, propane, and acetylene cylinders.

Sable Steel is notable as a 162-year-old family-owned company, currently lead by the fifth generation. They supply steel scrap and rebar, and are reported to have quadrupled in size since 1990.

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Amputation Hazards Found at AL Food Processing Plant

Brundidge, AL – Southern Classic Food Group LLC faces $164,997 in fines following citations for amputation and other hazards stemming from separate incidents in which two employees were hospitalized, one for a finger amputation and one for burns.

In the first incident brought to their attention, OSHA stated that an employee suffered burns while using hot water under pressure. Just six days later, another employee suffered an amputation to the tip of the finger.

In the course of their investigation, OSHA found that Southern Classic Food Group exposed employees to amputation hazards; neglected to implement lockout/tagout procedures to control hazardous energy and failed to train employees on these procedures; failed to ensure employees isolated energy sources; and did not provide personal protective equipment or implement a bloodborne pathogen program. 

One OSHA citation was for neglecting to make sure workers isolated energy sources before performing line-breaking work. Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) and Hazardous Energy Control/Control of Hazardous Energy refers to the same standard of preventing unexpected start up or movement of equipment. Machines that start up unexpectedly during maintenance are common causes of industrial injury and amputation. Proper application of lockout-tagout (or hazardous energy controls) violations are on OSHA’s Top 10 “Most Often Cited Violations” and Top 10 “Most Serious Violations” lists.

Approximately 3 million workers in the US service equipment and face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the federal 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.

Risk of amputation is a hazard of conducting maintenance work on industrial machinery, which is why OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies, practices, and procedures. Training ensures that the purpose and function of an energy control program is understood by employees and that the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls are acquired by employees.

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Lockout Accident Costs Employee 1 Finger and Ice Cream Co $103,000

Lakewood, NJ – A preventable lockout/tagout accident at a New Jersey ice cream manufacturer has left one employee missing a finger and the company owing $103,000 in fines to OSHA.

OSHA fined the ice cream maker, Mister Cookie Face, located near Rutgers University, $103,000 after an employee lost a finger and fractured another while performing maintenance on a machine. An inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor found numerous “machine safety hazards,” according to a release from the department.

The department cited the company, which manufactures ice cream bars and sandwiches, for not having a safety lockout procedure on the machine that would have prevented it from starting unexpectedly during maintenance activities.

Lockout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the startup of machinery or equipment that may result in injuring a worker.  As OSHA’s regional director stated, “this injury could have been avoided with worker training and the use of lockout/tagout procedures.”

Mister Cookie Face was also penalized for not making sure employees used “personal protective equipment,” not providing an eyewash station where employees used corrosive chemicals and for exposing its employees to “bloodborne pathogen hazards.”

The Mister Cookie Face is owned by Fieldbrook Foods Corp of Dunkirk, New York.

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Willful Violations Lead to Preventable Amputation

Pennsauken, NJ – Failure to implement OSHA recommendations has led to an amputation and over $200,000 in fines for willful violations documented at an NJ snack food manufacturing facility.

A worker at J&J Snack Foods Corporation suffered a partial finger amputation in a lockout accident that could have been prevented by rectifying prior violations identified by OSHA. Following an investigation, J&J faces $206,019 in fines for federal workplace safety violations, including willful violations.

OSHA’s investigation found that failures to correct previously issued workplace safety violations led to the amputation accident at J&J’s Pennsauken manufacturing facility. The snack-food maker failed to correct prior violations of safety procedures known as lockout/tagout procedures which are written instructions for de-energizing each piece of equipment.

OSHA inspectors determined that the worker was cleaning a machine when it activated. This is typical of accidents whose cause can be traced back to lockout/tagout failures or energy control hazards.

Million of American workers service equipment as a part of their job, and these people face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. It is estimated that compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents 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. OSHA’s area director stated that “the employer’s failure to correct previously identified violations and follow basic safety standards resulted in this preventable incident.”

J&J was cited for willfully failing to conduct periodic inspections of energy control procedures used to de-energize equipment when cleaning; failing to implement lockout procedures to prevent unintentional machine start-up; and failing to train employees on lockout/tagout procedures and energy hazards.

OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures. Training is done to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program are understood by employees, and that the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls are acquired by employees.

J&J Snack Foods Corp manufactures popular snack foods like soft pretzels, churros, water ice, and frozen lemonade for popular brands sold throughout the United States.

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Young Father Loses Both Legs in Preventable Lockout Accident

Spooner, WI – Spooner Machine has been cited for willful and serious safety violations after a preventable lockout accident led to an explosion that resulted in the amputation of a young father’s legs. OSHA has placed Spooner Machine Inc. on its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, and has proposed penalties of $221,168.

According to local police, Spooner Machine employee Bradley Grossen, 29, suffered life-threatening injuries as a result of the explosion at the Wisconsin facility. Grossen was reportedly repairing a water table used in metal fabrication when an explosion threw him from the top of the water table to the floor.

Federal workplace safety investigators determined that the explosion was caused by an accumulation of hydrogen gas. OSHA cited Spooner Machine for failing to develop and implement procedures to control the release of hydrogen gas during service and maintenance; to ensure proper machine guarding; store gas and oxygen cylinders properly; to provide required training; and protect employees from electrical hazards.

preventable lockout accident

OSHA’s Area Office Director stated that “this injury could have been prevented if the employer had properly protected their workers from the release of hazardous energy.”

Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) and Hazardous Energy Control/Control of Hazardous Energy refers to the same standard of preventing unexpected start up or movement of equipment. The terms are used interchangably, although “Lockout” is more commonly used in the United States.

Written Lockout/tagout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the startup of machinery or equipment that may result in worker injuring.

Violations of federal workplace safety standards regarding lockout-tagout (or hazardous energy controls) are on OSHA’s Top 10 “Most Often Cited Violations” and Top 10 “Most Serious Violations” lists. Many companies have general written policies, but lack the equipment specific procedures which provide workers with the specific steps to properly isolate energy sources. Lockout/Tagout fines are based on each piece of equipment, and can add up to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Written procedures for the control of hazardous energy are not effective without training. OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program are understood by the workforce. A robust lockout program pairs equipment-specific lockout procedures with employees who have the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls.

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