A teenage worker's life was altered forever when his employer allowed him to operate machinery illegally and the 14-year-old lost his hand in the process.

How it happened

Shady Knob Pallet Co. of Middlefield received citations from OSHA on July 7 following an inspection that found the young man suffered the injury when he touched the operating parts of a wood planer while manufacturing pallets on March 31.

Shady Knob violated the law by allowing an employee under 18 to work on the machine. Inspectors found the wood planer was one of several machines that lacked required safety guards to protect workers.

Know the laws

"Workers under age 18 are prohibited from operating power-driven woodworking machinery, such as the wood planer used here," said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland. "Without safety mechanisms, personal protective equipment and proper training, employees are at risk. Shady Knob Pallet Co. must know the laws and protect the safety and well-being of its workers."

OSHA issued 17 serious safety violations to the company. Proposed fines total $43,200. In addition to missing safety mechanisms, inspectors found Shady Knob failed to:

  • Train worksite staff to provide first aid.
  • Establish an exposure control plan for employees exposed to blood during first aid.
  • Teach employees about workplace chemical hazards.
  • Provide, and train workers on, the use of personal protective equipment.
  • Store flammable liquids correctly.
  • Use self-closing valves on gasoline drums used to power equipment.
  • Install electrical equipment properly.

The Wage and Hour Division is also investigating the company for probable violations of child labor laws.