Two employees in two different incidents each lost a finger last year at a Georgia manufacturing company – injuries that OSHA says could have been avoided.
The amputations occurred within a three month period at Elite Storage Solutions LLC. Following an OSHA investigation into the accidents, the company was issued 24 safety and health violations with proposed total penalties of $125,165.
How they happened
In the first incident, a worker operating a power press had a left ring finger severed in November 2014 as he used the press to stamp small parts for metal racks. The pallet rack manufacturer failed to ensure safety guards were in place to prevent an employee's hands and limbs from entering the machine.
Two months later, a second worker was standing up a fabricated metal rack when the 353-pound rack tipped over suddenly. The rack knocked the worker to the floor, crushing his hand and causing the loss of his left index finger. In this case, the company ignored safety standards to secure the rack.
Newly updated OSHA reporting requirements helped investigators learn of numerous hazards at Elite Storage. In January, the agency implemented new rules that require employers to report incidents that result in hospitalizations, amputations, and loss of eyesight within 24 hours.
"We investigated the first incident and this is when OSHA became aware of numerous hazards at this workplace," Fulcher explained. "Hazardous working conditions cannot go unaddressed, especially when workers are suffering permanent injuries."
The violations included:
- Exposing employees to amputation hazards by not ensuring welded metal beams were secured
- Failing to protect workers from moving machine parts during service and maintenance
- Obstructing exit routes
- Exposing workers to fall hazards up to heights of 10 feet
- Not ensuring employees performing maintenance or service on equipment were trained, according to the company's safety procedures
- Failing to have safety guards on several pieces of machinery
- Allowing employees to work in a 480-volt electrical panel without personal protective equipment at risk of electrocution or shock hazards
- Failing to have a respiratory protection training program
- Storing an oxygen cylinder without a valve protection cap
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