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January 22, 2024
OSHA cites Illinois, Ohio manufacturers for mechanical hazards

This week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Illinois and Ohio manufacturers with lockout/tagout and machine guarding violations. Both employers are facing six-figure penalties.

An Itasca, Illinois, custom manufacturer faces $298,453 in penalties for 1 willful and 13 serious violations—all involving required machine safety procedures—following the agency’s investigation under its National Emphasis Program (NEP) on amputations in manufacturing, OSHA announced January 17.

Walker Midwest LLC failed to guard industrial equipment, develop a lockout/tagout program, and train workers on machine safety procedures, exposing them to multiple injuries and amputation hazards, according to the agency. OSHA inspectors also found workers operating numerous unguarded industrial machines.

The lack of guarding exposed workers to the machines’ points of operation and danger zones during production. The inspection also found employees were engaged in maintenance and servicing activities on the machines without lockout/tagout procedures. 

OSHA revised its amputations in manufacturing NEP in 2019 to address amputation hazards and employers’ compliance with the lockout/tagout, machine guarding, and power tools standards. In October, OSHA reported that its lockout/tagout standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.147) was its fifth most cited standard in fiscal year (FY) 2023, cited 2,554 times. The machine guarding standard (§1910.212) was the agency’s tenth most cited standard, cited 1,644 times in FY 2023.

“Failing to train workers on machine safety procedures and allowing them to operate unguarded machines is inviting disaster,” Jacob Scott, OSHA’s Naperville, Illinois, area office director, said in an agency statement. “Lockout/tagout procedures have been an OSHA and industry standard for decades and there is no excuse for any manufacturer to fail to develop, implement and train workers in these safety procedures.”

According to OSHA, Walker Midwest, a division of Walker Stamping of Ontario, California, is a custom manufacturer that provides metal stampings, fabrication, springs, and other products for commercial industries, including the aircraft, automotive, consumer electronics, and solar industries.

Ohio carpet manufacturer placed in severe violators program

After a worker conducting cleaning operations sustained a partial finger amputation, OSHA cited UGN Inc. of Monroe, Ohio, with three repeat and four serious violations; proposed penalties totaling $234,376; and placed the employer in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), the agency announced January 18.

Employers in the SVEP are subject to follow-up inspections that can yield additional citations and penalties.

OSHA investigators found that UGN didn’t provide or require the use of lockout procedures for machinery located in manufacturing cells that contained rotating drums, hot-air boxes, burn boxes, chains, and sprockets. The cells were enclosed only on three sides, allowing workers to walk inside and around equipment removing excess fiber to prevent machine clogs during the manufacturing of carpet underlayment.

The agency cited the employer for not having required machine safety procedures; a lack of machine guarding on rotating drums; failing to train employees in lockout procedures; and not providing workers heat-resistant personal protective equipment to protect them from exposure to thermal temperatures of up to 191 degrees Fahrenheit while working around rotating drums, the hot-air injection box, and the burn box located inside cells. 

From 2019 to 2023, the agency cited UGN for similar machine safety violations in four previous investigations. 

“In the past three years, employees of UGN have suffered several recordable injuries from machinery, including burns, broken bones, and now an amputation because the company continues to task workers with contacting machinery while it is in operation,” Ken Montgomery, OSHA’s Cincinnati area office director, said in a statement.

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