Just one year after a worker amputated part of her right index finger on a spot welding machine at an Osceola, Wisconsin, metal stamping plant, a 19-year-old female co-worker suffered a similar injury on the same machine. OSHA inspectors found that her employer failed to implement safety procedures they agreed upon to protect workers from machine operating parts.
The injured welder, employed by the company for two months, had operated the spot welder for only nine days before the amputation occurred on Feb. 5, 2015.
Investigators also found that employees were required to weld thousands of parts a month on spot welding machines with their hand and fingers inches away from the machine's operating parts during the welding cycle.
Following the 2014 injury, Kapco agreed to manufacture fixtures to hold smaller parts, so that welders would not need to hold the parts with their fingers, near the point of operation. The company also installed hand controls to cycle the machine, but employees were still required to use foot controls while holding parts.
While investigating the February injury, OSHA found that Kapco failed to implement either of the safety measures fully, as agreed. The two willful violations cited the company for failing to guard points of operation on welding machines.
A repeated violation cited the company for failing to install adequate machine guarding on metal coil straighteners and milling machinery, violations the company was cited for previously in July 2014 and May 2013.
Kapco also failed to notify OSHA of the amputation injury within 24 hours, as required, reporting the amputation five days after it occurred.
Based in Grafton, Kapco is one of the largest steel buyers in the Midwest. The company employs about 110 workers at the Osceola manufacturing plant and more than 430 at its six Wisconsin manufacturing facilities.
The company has been inspected by OSHA 18 times since 1976. It has received a total of 45 safety violations, including 21 for machine hazards.
In 2013, a worker at the company's Grafton facility had three fingers amputated on a power press. In another incident in 2014, an employee at the company's Osceola plant suffered a crushed hand and finger amputation when her hand caught in a metal coil straightening machine that fed a mechanical power press.