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Worker Loses 4 Fingers, OSHA Finds $74K in Violations

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Jackson, MO – On Aug. 17, 2015, OSHA cited DW Wahlco Tool Inc for one repeated and 12 serious safety and health violations, including a lack of machine safety guards. Inspectors went to Wahlco to investigate how a 54-year-old employee lost four fingers using a machine at the facility. Wahlco had been cited in 2013 for not having machine safety guards, which OSHA said could have prevented the March 19 amputation. Proposed penalties total $74,480.

Inspectors also found the company failed to train employees about machine hazards and combustible dust; did not turn off machinery before servicing; lacked housekeeping to control dust; operated an inadequate respiratory control program; and did not provide protective equipment for employees working with energized electrical parts.

The OSHA investigation found fire hazards that could have caused an explosion. Any combustible material can burn rapidly when in a finely divided form, according to OSHA, and even materials that do not burn in larger pieces can be explosive in dust form under certain conditions. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors found “extensive combustible dust and potential sources of ignition” at D.W. Wahlco Tool.

“One worker suffered a life-altering injury, and excessive combustible dust at Wahlco made for a disaster waiting to happen,” Bill McDonald, OSHA’s area director in St. Louis, said in the release. “For the second time in two years, the company intentionally disregarded OSHA standards and requirement for machine safety — an unacceptable practice.”

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