A 29-year-old temporary worker's left arm was amputated when his jacket was caught in the drive shaft of a conveyor belt suffered the latter at a sawmill operated by Griffin Lumber & Hardware.

OSHA inspectors found that workers at the Cordele, Ga.-based business risked amputations and the dangers associated with unguarded sprocket wheels and chains on a conveyor belt.

The worker was employed by Labor Finders, a staffing agency that provides Griffin Lumber with temporary workers. Griffin Lumber was responsible for daily supervision, training and direction of the temporary workers. OSHA concluded an inspection with Labor Finders and issued no citations to the staffing agency.

A long time

"Griffin management admitted to inspectors that the unguarded parts had been that way for a long time," said Robert Vazzi, OSHA's area director in Savannah. "This terrible incident proves the company can no longer ignore worker safety and must address all safety hazards immediately."

Griffin Lumber received a willful violation from OSHA for failing to ensure workers were protected from an unguarded sprocket and chain. OSHA alleges that the 74 full-time and temporary employees who work on-site were exposed to serious injury or death due to this violation. The company faces a proposed penalty of $56,000.

A history of violations

Since 2013, Griffin Lumber has been inspected three times and received citations for unsafe forklift usage, unguarded machinery and other workplace hazards.

Griffin Lumber operates a sawmill and three stores in southern Georgia..

In April 2013, OSHA announced an initiative to improve workplace safety and health for temporary workers, who are at increased risk of work-related injury and illness. The initiative includes outreach, training and enforcement to ensure that temporary workers are protected on-the-job. OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have also issued a "Recommended Practices"* publication that focuses on ensuring temporary workers receive the same training and protection as permanent employees. OSHA has also created a National Emphasis Program on Amputations.