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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Mineral Trans WA Fined After Worker’s Hand Crushed

A transport company has been ordered to pay more than $63,000 in fines and court fee’s after a worker’s hand was crushed between two containers that were being moved with a forklift in Western Australia.

Mineral Trans WA and another entity operated Cranes Haulage in August 2014 when a truck driver transported sea containers to a yard in Esperance, Western Australia to be unloaded with a forklift by the general manager. hand crushed

The truck driver was releasing twist locks that attached two containers when they became stuck, and as they were separated his left hand was crushed. He was transported to a local area hospital. He required skin grafts and pins to repair open fractures.

Mineral Trans pleaded guilty in Esperance Magistrates Court to failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace, and by that failure, caused serious harm to an employee.The company also admitted allowing an employee to operate a forklift without the appropriate licence.

Mineral Trans was fined a total of $58,000 and was also ordered to pay $5542 in costs.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Ian Munns said, “the hazard should have been foreseen. The worker should have been prohibited from removing the twist locks from the bottom container until the top container was safely removed from the pedestrian area.”

Following the incident, Cranes Haulage stopped separating sea containers and the general manager has obtained an appropriate licence to operate a forklift.

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Machine Guarding Death at AL Polymer Facility Deemed Preventable

Helena, AL – OSHA has proposed fines of $195,144 against ABC Polymer Industries LLC after an employee suffered fatal injuries when she was pulled into a plastics recycling machine at the Alabama facility in 2017. OSHA has determined that ABC Polymer’s machine guarding failure was “willful” and resulted in what they’ve called a “preventable tragedy.”

Following their investigation, OSHA levied one willful citation against ABC PolyMachine guardingmers for failing to provide machine guards which protect employees from hazards like getting caught in machinery and amputation dangers. Of the 16 violations found at the AL facility, the willful machine guarding failure amounts to the largest portion of the proposed fine total. OSHA’s Birmingham Area Office issued a statement: “This company’s failure to install machine guarding equipment has resulted in a preventable tragedy.”

ABC Polymer Industries was also cited for repeat, serious, and other-than-serious violations, including failing to evaluate all powered industrial trucks every three years, not having machine specific lockout tagout procedures, and failing to install a rail system on both sides of an open platform.

According to the local Coroner’s office, the employee, Eva Saenz (age 45), was working next to rollers and bent over to cut a piece of plastic when she got pulled up into the rollers and equipment. She was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency responders.

ABC Polymer Industries makes polypropylene bulk storage bags and flexible containers for industrial markets. They are one of the largest suppliers of flexible intermediate bulk containers in North America as well as a manufacturer of polypropylene concrete fibers, and extruded PP products, including microsynthetic and macrosynthetic concrete fibers.

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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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