AL Auto Workers Exposed to Electrical and Amputation Hazards

electrical amputation hazardsAuburn, AL – Arkal Automotive USA Inc. faces $47,857 in proposed federal workplace safety penalties after an investigation of its Auburn (AL) plant revealed that workers were exposed to electrical and amputation hazards.

According to OSHA, Arkal Automotive was cited for inadequate machine guarding, failure to implement lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures to keep workers safe during machine maintenance and servicing, failing to implement safety procedures for entering a robotic cage, and for exposing employees to hazardous energy.

OSHA’s fines and citations were issued following a complaint that employees were not properly protected while entering injection molding machines. Joseph Roesler, OSHA’s area office director, stated that “Arkal Automotive USA Inc. failed to identify and correct hazards to ensure the safety and health of their employees.”

Multiple lockout/tagout failures were revealed in the course of the OSHA investigation. Arkal Automotive was found lacking proper lockout procedures for working with robots or molds, including when removing parts or cleaning molds. Additionally, safety inspectors found an insufficient amount of the required lockout equipment for employees to use for hazardous energy control. The OSHA complaint said the company failed to ensure that if more than one employee was working in a robotic area, each employee had individual lockout devices.

It was also reported that Arkal Automotive failed to ensure continuity of lockout procedures on shift change and did not have adequate machine guarding when employees reached under a portion of a robot cage to retrieve parts and pass to the operator while the machine was running.

According to OSHA records, the same facility was issued four serious violations in 2017 for lockout hazards and other violations.

Arkal Automotive is a company based in Israel, with production plants worldwide. The Auburn (AL) injection molding plant opened in 2011, and is their only production plant in the US. The Auburn facility produces door carriers, wheel liners and other functional auto parts.

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Lockout Training Could Have Saved Employee’s Life

Jeffersonville, IN – Lockout procedures and lockout training could have saved the life of former Autoneum employee Melissa Stephens. That’s the finding of the Indiana arm of OSHA which found five safety violations following the employee death in October at Autoneum’s Jeffersonville (IN) facility. The automotive manufacturer has been fined $224,000 for violations which IOSHA believes were entirely preventable: “had the appropriate safety precautions been in place, the fatality would not have occurred.”

OSHA found violations of federal safety standards including inadequate procedures in identifying how to control the belt and pulley power and how to stop it; failure to properly guard pulleys that were 7 feet or less from the floor or work area; and failure to properly guard rotating belts from employees. Total fines for these violations are $210,000.

Additional violations were classified as those with a “high probability of death or serious harm,” and totaled $14,000:lockout training failure to establish and maintain safe work conditions through employees’ exposure to being caught in rotating machine parts due to loose clothing; and lack of effective training on hazardous power sources, such as power from moving belts, that could cause employees to become caught or pinched by machinery.

Melissa Stephens (age 44) died after an incident with a machine at the Jeffersonville plant on Oct. 21, 2017. Preliminary cause of her death was ruled multiple blunt force trauma.

Autoneum is a Swiss-based company that manufactures GM and Ford parts and specializes in vehicle acoustic and thermal management systems. They have 50 locations in more than 20 countries and employ over 11,000 people.

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Georgia Automotive Manufacturer Faces OSHA Fines

Suwanee, GA – PAI Industries, Inc. faces close to $56,000 in federal OSHA fines following an inspection by investigators for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The auto parts manufacturer was issued 14 citations for serious violations following an OSHA inspection in the fall of 2014. The inspection was part of a regional The Change in OSHA Lockout Update osha finescanvassing of automotive industries, according to a press release from the U.S. Labor Department.

OSHA cited PAI for not ensuring machinery could not accidentally start up during maintenance and servicing, an industry practice known as Lockout/Tagout. Additional violations included not requiring eye protection; exposing workers to trip and fall hazards; not providing a workplace free from recognized hazards; failure to implement a noise monitoring program; and not ensuring fire extinguishers were properly mounted and labeled.

“The results from this on-site enforcement inspection illustrate the need for OSHA’s focus on the automotive parts industry,” said William Fulcher director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East Area Office. “Employers can’t only rely on OSHA to identify hazards; they must be proactive in protecting the health and safety of their workers.”

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