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.
OSHA 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.
Neenah, WI – OSHA has proposed fines of nearly $50,000 for safety violations found at Clearwater Paper Corp. facility in Neenah, WI. Violations included a lack of procedures for the control of locking devices to prevent the operation of machinery during repairs, known as lockout tagout. The company was also cited for a lack of safety guards on operating machine parts.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration found nine serious violations during a December inspection of the paper mill, including those that present amputation risks. Matt Van Vleet, vice president of public affairs for the Spokane, Wash.-headquartered company, said they received notification of the violations on April 24, and company officials are in the process of review.
OSHA chose the Wisconsin mill for inspection based on its use of equipment that puts employees in danger of amputation. The administration has put an emphasis on reducing workplace machinery and equipment hazards. OSHA officials say the company and its union took immediate steps to address the issues raised during the inspection.
Clearwater Paper is the country’s largest producer of private-label tissue products, and its Wisconsin mill is one of 10 manufacturing facilities across the country.
Arcadia, WI – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration levied a historic $1.766 million dollar fine this week against Ashley Furniture Industries, based in Wisconsin. Investigators documented numerous and repeated serious violations at the facility, landing Ashley Furniture on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program list for “employers who have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.”
The plant employs 4,500 and in the past 3 years has seen over 1,000 worker injuries. Workers were not adequately protected against moving machinery, most of it woodworking machinery. Lack of training and accidents with tools, blades, and saws have resulted in multiple amputations. The OSHA report and $1.76 million dollar penalty allege that Ashley Furniture “failed to safeguard against woodworking machines unintentionally starting when workers were making tool and blade changes,” which is also known as lockout tagout or control of hazardous energy.
Additional citations were issued for “not training workers on safety procedures and hazards present when servicing machinery; lacking adequate drenching facilities for workers exposed to corrosive materials; electrical safety violations; and not equipping all machines with easily-accessible emergency stop buttons.” OSHA categorizes these violations as serious since physical harm resulted from a hazard they estimate that the “employer knew or should have known [to] exist.”
“We rarely issue a fine that is more than $1 million,” commented U.S. Labor Department Assistant Secretary David Michaels. “Having 1,000 work injuries in three years is proof positive that safety in this plant needs tremendous improvement.” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez stated: “Safety and profits are not an ‘either, or’ proposition. Successful companies across this nation have both.” For its part, Ashley Furniture denies the findings, stressing that they are allegations only.