A 32-year-old machinist suffered serious injuries to his left arm caused when his hand was caught and he was pulled into a machine on which his employer had bypassed safety devices designed to prevent such injuries. The worker has endured several surgeries and rehabilitation to repair his broken bones.

OSHA inspectors found that his employer, Kemper Valve & Fittings Corp., bypassed safety devices to allow the computer-controlled machine to operate when the guard door was open.

OSHA identified one willful and one other-than-serious safety violation at the Island Lake manufacturing facility following the March injury. Proposed penalties total $71,000.

A "life-altering" injury

"Kemper Valve & Fittings decided to bypass safety devices and put employees at risk for severe injuries. For this worker, that willful choice resulted in a life-altering injury," said Angeline Loftus, area director of OSHA's Chicago North Area Office in Des Plaines. "Employees pay the painful price when companies don't follow safety standards. Each year about 3 million workers in America are injured on-the-job, which affects their ability to provide for themselves and their families."

How it happened

Investigators found the machinist was using sandpaper to remove surface rust from a part. The door guard of the computer numerical control machine remained open, to make the part accessible. The worker's hand was caught during the machine's rotation, and he was pulled into the rotating parts which resulted in the injuries. OSHA cited a willful violation because the company ignored basic machine safety rules.

The company also failed to create an annual injury and illness summary for each of its separate operating locations, resulting in one other-than-serious violation.

The incident occurred at Kemper Valve & Fittings' manufacturing headquarters. The company maintains its national sales and service center in Houston and has similar centers in Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Utah.