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June 13, 2022
OSHA issues flurry of six-figure fines

On June 9, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it cited a Swainsboro, Georgia, pillow manufacturer for 7 repeat and 4 serious violations and proposed $190,758 in penalties. The agency announced 6-figure fines for 2 other employers this week, as well.

Place Vendome Holding Co. Inc., operating as R&F Marketing, has a history of safety and health violations, according to the agency, including three different incidents related to workers’ suffering amputation injuries.

The agency initiated an inspection on November 16, 2021, and discovered the company exposed employees to several of the same hazards that OSHA had cited in a November 2020 inspection.

Since the 2020 inspection, three company employees have suffered amputations:

  • A 22-year-old machine operator suffered an amputation injury in December 2020. OSHA found no lockout/tagout procedures to safeguard workers.
  • A 40-year-old machine operator experienced an amputated finger and 9 crushed fingers in February 2021. The agency found the machine’s energy control locks had been removed.
  • A 50-year-old maintenance manager loading a pallet jack onto a truck suffered an amputation after a finger was caught between the wheels of the jack in March 2021.

OSHA cited Place Vendome with repeat, serious violations for obstructing exit routes, failing to post well-lit signs identifying exit routes, and stacking materials in unstable or unsecured tiers. The agency also cited the company for failing to mount or keep fire extinguishers accessible and train workers who were designated to use fire extinguishers.

OSHA issued three serious violations for locking an emergency exit door from the outside, failing to have emergency action plans in place, failing to establish and utilize equipment-specific procedures to control hazardous energy, and failing to train workers on the procedures.

Metal buildings manufacturer faces $154K fine

OSHA cited Corle Building Systems Inc. in Imler, Pennsylvania, for a willful violation for inadequate machine guarding after a 40-year-old worker suffered the partial amputation of one finger and an injury to a second one while cleaning a machine at the facility. The company faces $154,143 in proposed penalties.

“Corle Building Systems' failure to comply with required machine guarding standards led to a serious and preventable injury,” said Christopher Robinson, OSHA’s Pittsburgh area director, in an agency statement.

The agency determined that a lack of functional machine safety locks allowed the rag the worker was using to become caught and pulled into the machine’s steel rollers, leading to the amputation. In addition to the cited machine guarding violation, OSHA also cited Corle Building Systems for four serious violations for failing to develop lockout/tagout procedures to prevent unexpected machine start-up, perform an annual review of its lockout/tagout program, and ensure the machine was locked out before workers began cleaning it.

The employer designs and manufactures rigid-frame buildings, including airplane hangars, commercial buildings, warehouses, and other structures, according to OSHA.

NY employer facing $203K fine

An Afton, New York, agricultural products manufacturer is facing $203,039 in proposed OSHA penalties after a supervisor at McDowell and Walker Inc. told an untrained employee to enter a grain bin to clear a feed buildup that clogged a silo entry point. OSHA cited the company for two willful, nine serious, and three other-than-serious violations of workplace safety standards.

While attempting to clear the buildup, a conveyor transporting feed into the silo activated, partially engulfing the worker in leftover feed. A coworker helped the employee avoid serious injury.

McDowell and Walker now meets the requirements of the agency’s severe violator enforcement program (SVEP).

OSHA concluded that the employer exposed the employee to engulfment hazards by failing to adhere to grain-handling safeguards, such as:

  • Providing the employee with a required body harness with a lifeline or boatswain’s chair and other rescue equipment before entering the grain bin;
  • De-energizing, locking out, and tagging the conveyor and chutes transporting feed to prevent them from operating with an employee in the bin;
  • Completing an entry permit to control hazards in the grain bin before directing workers to enter; and
  • Training workers on grain-handling hazards, including entering confined spaces, loading feed into trucks, bagging feed, transporting feed into bins, and related housekeeping duties.

“McDowell and Walker Inc.’s failure to follow required safety practices nearly cost a worker his life,” Jeffrey Prebish, OSHA’s Syracuse, New York, area director, said in an agency statement. “They must provide training and equipment as required by OSHA’s grain handling facilities standard to ensure workers are protected from grain handling hazards.”

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