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December 22, 2021
Amputations net six-figure OSHA fines

Two employers in Alabama and Arkansas are facing six-figure Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties following workers’ amputation injuries.

OSHA cited iSpice LLC of Jackson, Alabama, with 2 repeat, serious and 6 serious safety and health violations and proposed penalties totaling $146,751. The agency cited Maxwell Hardwood Flooring Inc. of Monticello, Arkansas, with 1 willful, serious and 4 serious violations. OSHA also cited Maxwell Hardwood Flooring with 2 recordkeeping violations. The agency is seeking $204,797 in proposed penalties.

On August 8, a 61-year-old maintenance employee of iSpice LLC suffered a partial finger amputation while adding wrapping material to a machine that started and trapped his hand. OSHA cited iSpice for not ensuring that machine guards were in place or adequate while employees worked in close proximity to rotating components on machines. The company also exposed workers to fall hazards, according to OSHA, by allowing employees to work on an open-sided mezzanine 12 feet above the next level without a complete guardrail system and allowing employees to work near uncovered electrical boxes and light switches, as well as a machine with exposed live parts.

The agency had cited iSpice LLC with 3 repeat, serious and 7 serious violations 6 months earlier, in April, for exposing workers to amputation and struck-by hazards and assessed $121,511 in penalties.

“Once again, this employer disregarded safety measures and their neglect resulted in a serious injury that should never have happened,” Jose Gonzales, OSHA’s Mobile, Alabama, area director, said in an agency statement. “Employers have a responsibility to comply with OSHA standards that are in place to keep workers safe on the job.”  

Saw operator injuries

A knot saw operator at the Maxwell Hardwood Flooring plant in Monticello suffered a partial amputation of an index finger in June 2021 when his hand came into contact with a rotating blade that lacked adequate machine guarding. A few weeks earlier, a similar saw at the Maxwell plant lacerated a coworker’s palm severely, leaving the worker with nerve damage.

OSHA inspectors determined that the employer failed to record the laceration on the company’s OSHA 300 log.

Safety and health violations cited by the agency included five unguarded circular saws in use, the lack of safe access and egress to and from walking-working surfaces, obstructed exit routes, and a lack of a stair-rail system and handrails.           

“Maxwell Hardwood Flooring’s disregard for the safety of its workers has left two people with serious injuries,” Kia E. McCullough, OSHA’s Little Rock, Arkansas, area director, said in an agency statement.

“Workers have the right to a safe and healthy workplace. Employers must comply with safety requirements to ensure workers return home each day safely. When an employer fails to fulfill its obligation, OSHA will hold them accountable.”

OSHA’s machine guarding standard (29 CFR §1910.212) is one of the agency’s top 10 most frequently cited standards. The agency cited 1,313 machine guarding violations in fiscal year 2020.

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